Friday, July 17, 2015

Margaret Verble's "Maud's Line"

Margaret Verble is an enrolled and voting citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a member of a large Cherokee family that has, through generations, made many contributions to the tribe’s history and survival.

Here Verble dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Maud's Line:
I feel lucky to have a book rolling toward publication, so thinking about who’d play the movie parts is like putting the cart before the horse. But who’s not guilty of that? For some of us, it’s a long established habit. And, anyway, people who think strictly sequentially often find themselves looking at buttocks, a dock, and a tail.

I confess I did daydream while writing Maud’s Line, particularly when I was stuck because the characters wouldn’t speak to me. You have to do something during those spats; so I imagined them on the big screen just to massage their egos -- and mine.

I came up with a hair-darkened Matt Czuchry playing Booker. I admire Czuchry’s work as Cary Agos on The Good Wife, and think he can do handsome, vulnerable, and angry, all three.

I can see Oprah Winfrey playing Lizzie. But I can also see any number of other wonderful, mature, female African American actresses doing the same, and I suspect Ms. Winfrey is a very busy woman.

As for Ryde Foxworth, definitely Taylor Kitsch. He was wonderful as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights, and has mastered the hard edge of Ryde.

The rest of my characters are Indians, and that presents a problem. Hollywood has been even worse for Native Americans than it has for African Americans. When I was younger, Indians were most often played by Italians, even though the U.S. Census repeatedly showed more Indians living in California than in any other state, even Oklahoma. Call me a racist, but I’d like my American Indian characters played by Native Americans. Fortunately, as far as I’m concerned, that category can include many Hispanics. Indians with roots in Central and South America are still Indians. And from the Native American point of view, these borders are rather newly invented.

I haven’t ever turned my imagination to who could play Maud. As a writer, I can’t risk letting anything between my main character and me. But I have imagined Viola as played by – you’re not going to buy this – Cher. There are two good reasons for that. One, Cher is a fine actress. Go back and watch Silkwood. And secondly, Cher is also an Indian. A Cherokee. Viola’s a Creek, but she married into the Cherokees and her grandfather was Cherokee. I don’t think she’d mind a bit.

The other Indian character I cast in my imagination was Mustard played by Adam Beech, a Saulteaux First Nations Indian. I did that simply because I like to imagine Adam Beech as often as possible. Check out Smoke Signals to see why.

As for the rest of them, well, frankly, I’d just like to have them played by Indians – First Nations People from Canada, Native Americans, Hispanic Indians. I don’t care which. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Or it shouldn’t be.
Visit Margaret Verble's website.

--Marshal Zeringue