Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Charlie Lovett's "The Lost Book of the Grail"

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, and the newly released The Lost Book of the Grail.

Here Lovett dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lost Book of the Grail:
I’m going to be honest here—my wife Janice is the real source of this blog. She has an amazing knack for remembering performers and performances and, having spent many years as a director, she is great at casting. I’m better at remembering places. We’ll be watching a movie and I will say, “We stayed around the corner from that building one time.” We joke that if we worked in Hollywood, she would be the casting director and I would be the location scout.

So, before we get to her cast, let’s chat about my locations. The book is set in a fictional cathedral city called Barchester, but many of the elements of the city, the cathedral, and the surrounding countryside, are inspired (or one might say stolen) from real places. I envisioned Barchester as having the cathedral of Winchester, the close (that is the walled in area around the cathedral) of Norwich, and the surrounding city and countryside of Wells. But almost any modest sized English cathedral city would do.

In the role of Arthur, a forty-year-old Brit who likes old books a lot better than he likes most people, Janice votes for Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow fame. She said she heard his voice as Arthur’s as soon as she started reading (though we both admit, Tom Hiddleston would be fairly amazing, too—and we had tea with his mom once, so he’s practically family). Arthur’s foil is Bethany Davis, a young American from the digital world with a rapid-fire delivery. Janice liked my idea of Emma Stone in this part (we have loved her in everything she has done). But we’d be equally pleased with Anna Kendrick or Jennifer Lawrence.

Arthur has two very different close friends. David is a bit of a hound dog, constantly seducing women. Oscar is an introvert with speech hesitation and is probably gay, though very quiet about it. Janice’s first thoughts were Justin Timberlake (if he can do a British accent) as David and Eddie Redmayne as Oscar. I think those are both brilliant choices.

In the role of the overworked dean of the cathedral, Gwyn, a widow with two small children, Janice gravitated towards one of our favorite British comediennes, who has also done dramatic work on Call the Midwife, Miranda Hart. Miranda is tall and imposing and can give that sense of steady leadership, yet she can also play quite vulnerable and I think that’s the trick with Gwyn.

The other ecclesiastical role is the precentor (the priest who plans all the services at the cathedral). He is not named, but is often present, always getting in Arthur’s way and reminding Arthur of a salmon. He is officious and has a streak of arrogance (at least Arthur sees him that way). I at first thought Eddie Izzard (perhaps because we had just cast another comic), but then Janice came up with the superb idea of Alan Cumming. Think about the role he played in Circle of Friends, add forty years, and you’ve got the precentor. Plus Alan can sing, and the precentor leads the sung services at the cathedral.

So, if Julian Fellowes writes and directs with that cast, I’ll be happy to show up on the red carpet!
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: First Impressions.

--Marshal Zeringue