Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Robert Wilder's "Nickel"

Robert Wilder is the author of a novel, Nickel, and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink, both optioned for television and film.

A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition.

Here Wilder dreamcasts an adaptation of Nickel:
I live a seven-minute walk from two great theaters in Santa Fe’s Railyard District: George RR Martin’s historic Jean Cocteau and the state-of-the-art Violet Crown. I see at least one movie a week and was lucky enough to attend the South by Southwest film festival this year in Austin. During South by Southwest, I saw the premiere of Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special starring a terrific young actor, Jaeden Lieberher who, in my opinion, would make a terrific Coy, the main character in my novel Nickel. Lieberher really captured the subtleties of being an (very) odd kid stuck in the middle of a variety of odd adults. In Nickel, Coy’s mom is in rehab and he lives with a slightly inept stepdad. His teachers are of little help as he tries to navigate a challenging life that only gets trickier. Even though Coy does not possess supernatural powers like the character of Alton does in Midnight Special, I think Lieberher would make a fine Coy.

I really liked Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, one of my favorite films of 2015. The film is based on the Phoebe Gloeckner’s classic graphic novel by the same name. Powley would be perfect for the role of Monroe, Coy’s quirky friend who falls ill from heavy metal poisoning from her braces. Monroe is very smart, very funny, and, until she gets sick, dresses in clothes inspired by Anime and Manga. Her persona is only really understood by Coy, so she gets teased incessantly even before a mysterious rash appears around her mouth.

There is a terrific young cast in Richard Linklater’s hysterical new film Everybody Wants Some. She’s probably too old to play Coy’s love interest Avree (as is Bel Powley playing Monroe), but I could see an actor like Zoey Deutch playing her. Avree is the girl who can hang out with the so-called popular crowd, but has far more humor, depth and empathy. She connects with Coy on an emotional level even though they live on two different social planets.

Since Nickel is set during Coy’s ninth grade year, there are many secondary characters that would be fun to cast. (I really love films with casts of mostly unknowns but, for the sake of this exercise, I’ll choose known actors.) Coy’s stepdad is a good and flawed boy/man who never expected to be a single father. Dan could be played by the ever-likeable Paul Rudd. I could see Stephen Root of Office Space fame to take on Coy’s goofball and disconnected science teacher, Mr. Beakman. I loved Kristen Wiig in the brilliant Welcome to Me, and she would do well in the role of the hippie/new age school counselor, Ms. Sunday. Finally, Dianne Wiest would be too old for Coy’s mother, but I’d love someone of her caliber to tackle a hyper-sensitive parent unable to reenter the real world just yet.
Visit Robert Wilder's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue