Thursday, August 23, 2018

Katharine Weber's "Still Life With Monkey"

Katharine Weber grew up in New York City and has lived in rural Connecticut since 1976, when she married the cultural historian Nicholas Fox Weber. (They have two daughters and a grandson.) She also spends parts of the year in West Cork, Ireland, and in London. She is the author of five previous novels and a memoir.

Here, Weber dreamcasts an adaptation her new novel Still Life With Monkey:
Still Life With Monkey stars a very successful architect, Duncan Wheeler, 37, who has recently become a quadriplegic as the consequence of a car accident. He has an identical twin, Gordon, who has a very different personality and life. The able-bodied twin presents a dilemma for casting, because in principle I would dearly love to envisage an actor in the Duncan role who in real life uses a wheelchair. In nearly every film with a disabled character, able-bodied actors are cast in those roles. But if the same actor were also to play the part of the twin brother, which would be the obvious double-role casting for this movie, this presents a practical dilemma. However, I have the perfect solution in mind—if varieties of time travel are permitted. My dream casting for these two roles would in fact be the same actor: quadriplegic Christopher Reeve for Duncan Wheeler, and pre-accident Christopher Reeve for Gordon Wheeler. The spirit of Christopher Reeve definitely hovers over my novel. In 1981 I saw Christopher Reeve on Broadway when he starred in the Lanford Wilson play The Fifth of July in the role of a gay, paraplegic Vietnam veteran. (The riding accident that paralyzed him lay fourteen years in the future.) In the play there is a running reference to a plan for sprinkling someone’s ashes in the penstemon.

For Duncan’s wife Laura, the third (human) star of this movie, I would cast Alexis Bledel, whose work as Emily/Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale shows an extraordinary and nuanced capacity for conveying wordless emotions. Laura is a bit of a loner, someone who at times does the wrong things for the right reasons. Alexis Bledel would inhabit this part perfectly.

For Ottoline the capuchin helper monkey, I would hope for Crystal the monkey (Night at the Museum, We Bought a Zoo, Community), but she is a very big star, and if she is not available, then Katie the monkey (Friends, Outbreak), would be a strong second choice.

My dream director would be Lasse Hallström, whose quirky body of work, from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? to Cider House Rules, makes me believe he would know how to direct these principal characters and a capuchin monkey.
Visit Katharine Weber's website.

Writers Read: Katharine Weber.

--Marshal Zeringue