Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Billie Livingston's "The Crooked Heart of Mercy"

Billie Livingston is the award-winning author of four novels, a collection of short stories, and a poetry collection. Her novel One Good Hustle, a Globe and Mail Best Book selection, was nominated for the Giller Prize and for the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here Livingston shares some thought about the above-the-line talent to adapt her latest novel, The Crooked Heart of Mercy, for the big screen:
Directed by: Jodie Foster

Casting suggestions:

Francis, male, 34 years old : Robert Downey Jr., Philip Seymour Hoffman
Maggie, female, 32 years old: Brittany Murphy, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei
Ben, male, 35 years old: Young Jeff Bridges, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Liotta

To cast The Crooked Heart of Mercy, you’d need three actors who could really pull of strong working class people. Jodie Foster has played dozens of these kinds of characters and to have her take the helm, as director, would be really interesting. I bet she could direct the hell out of a story like this.

Francis, though a supporting character is something of a linchpin to the story. A gay, promiscuous, alcoholic priest, Francis is playful, confused, funny and ultimately gifted with a grace that helps people forward with their own secret burdens. A 30-something Robert Downey Jr. would be fantastic. You’d need that kind of temperament—great sensitivity and a sharp sense of humor. Philip Seymour Hoffman would have made a great Francis too.

Francis’s sister Maggie: Like Francis, Maggie is a smartass with a smart mouth, both fierce and fragile, and enormously sensitive. She’s on the other side of a huge loss, and her husband is in the psych ward with a hole in his head. A 30-something Toni Collette could nail it. Brittany Murphy, had she lived the life she should have, would also have made a great Maggie. When I think of the job Marisa Tomei did with In the Bedroom, I bet she too would really brought Maggie home.

And finally Maggie’s husband Ben. Ben has just woken up in the psych ward with a hole in his head he can’t explain. A working class guy, Ben is a limo driver, gentle, with a keen mind and great sense of the absurd —before he retreats into a bit of madness. Mark Wahlberg could pull off Ben. Actually The Crooked Heart of Mercy is story with a Catholic underpinning and from what I understand Wahlberg is a pretty serious Catholic. He would probably bring an intriguing undercurrent to the character. A young Jeff Bridges would have been good. A young Ray Liotta would have made a great Ben too – but you’d need a strong actress to balance Liotta out or he might come off as pure maniac!
Read more about the author and her books at the official Billie Livingston website.

My Book, The Movie: Cease to Blush.

The Page 69 Test: The Crooked Heart of Mercy.

--Marshal Zeringue