Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz's "The Possible World"

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz grew up in Washington, DC after an early childhood overseas. She attended Harvard University and then medical school at University of Virginia. While in medical school, she won the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Prize and also published her first novel, Near Canaan.

She specialized in emergency medicine and like most doctors, she can thoroughly ruin dinner parties with tales of medical believe-it-or-not. But she won't do that, because she knows how hard you worked to make a nice meal.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Possible World, her second novel:
The Possible World is set in Rhode Island, and there is a significant historical aspect to the story, so a close adaptation would be constrained with regard to casting. A looser adaptation (a different setting, for example) would open up some roles with regard to type. I think I would learn a lot about my story and characters if they were set free in that way, but for a strict adaptation, set in Rhode Island with the characters as they are written, this is what I imagine for the main roles of Clare and Lucy and Ben and Leo and Gloria and Joe and James:

Clare is a 99 year old, French-Canadian immigrant to Providence, who tells her life story. So there are two roles: “Now Clare” (99 years old) and “Early Clare” (mid 30s to mid 40s); with great prosthetic/makeup work, one talented actress could play both! I envisioned Early Clare as tall, with an ethereal, seemingly-fragile quality, like Saffron Burrows or Charlotte Rampling or Madeline Stowe or Nicole Kidman or Keri Russell. Others with great talent and mobile, expressive faces to carry emotional scenes without much dialogue: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Heigl, Julia Roberts (she is ageless!). For Now Clare (with aging prosthetics of course): Brooke Shields, Kathleen Chalfant, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amy Irving.

Of course I would want Meryl Streep for Clare. Everyone would want Meryl Streep to bring a character to life! But I have a very good reason! Meryl + makeup/prosthetics could play Now Clare and one of her daughters, Mamie or Grace Gummer, could play Early Clare. Just the thought makes me sigh.

Lucy is in her mid thirties, focused and competent; she is not from Rhode Island. I would love Mireille Enos. I can also see Elisabeth Moss, Mamie Gummer, Lupita Nyong’o, Reese Witherspoon, Regina King, Morena Baccarin, Elodie Yung or Alexis Bledel. Saorsie Ronan or Jennifer Lawrence could play “up” in age, pretty please.

Ben is 6 years old. He could be any ethnicity. I would hope for another miracle like Jacob Tremblay who held us all enthralled in “Room”; I am sure there is one out there.

Leo is 11 years old, Rhode Island-born. Well, look at that! Jacob Tremblay is now exactly the right age for this role. Come and get it.

Gloria is 69, an indomitable personality. She is Portuguese-American in the book, but her life story is not told in detail, so her ethnicity and her age are pretty open. Her role would require comedic as well as dramatic ability, so I think of Margo Martindale, CCH Pounder, Alfre Woodard, Neicy Nash, Marisa Tomei, Regina Taylor, Oprah Winfrey.

Joe is in his late thirties to early forties; not a Rhode Islander. He is an attractive, earnest, finding-himself type. He could be played by John Cho or Aaron Paul or Romany Malco or Casey Affleck or Mark Ruffalo.

James is in his early forties; he is a Rhode Island farmer, a quiet, rugged type. John Hamm. Mark Ruffalo again, Bradley Cooper, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Kyle Chandler. I toss in Ed Harris because Ed Harris —I do not care how old he gets; his appeal will never wane. OK, now you know way too much about me!
Visit Liese O'Halloran Schwarz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue