Friday, March 12, 2021

Claire Holroyde's "The Effort"

Claire Holroyde is a writer and graphic designer living outside of Philadelphia.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Effort, her first novel:
With its ensemble cast and multiple narrative threads, The Effort would better adapt to an original series. I select Naren Shankar, showrunner for The Expanse, to bring the novel to life. Naren respects science. He holds a PhD in Applied Physics & Electrical Engineering from Cornell University no less. However, he doesn’t let science overshadow meaningful drama. The Expanse is one of the best shows on television, outside of any categorization. It’s a successful adaptation of the book series by James S. A. Corey and features everything I would desire for my own: an epic storyline, a large and diverse ensemble cast, expert screenwriting, and complex production design.

As for casting the international characters of The Effort, let me roll up my sleeves and populate its two main settings: a spaceport at the South American equator and a polar icebreaker on a research expedition in the Arctic.

Spaceport in French Guiana

Dr. Ben Schwartz, a NASA manager turned science lead of the Defense Effort for Comet UD3, would be played by Hugh Dancy of Hannibal and Homeland. Dancy could emanate brilliance, manic intensity, sarcasm, and desperation as the mission’s launch window reduces. Ben’s partner, Amy Kowalski, would be played by Mackenzie Davis of Halt and Catch Fire and The Martian. Davis has proven that she can play an intriguing cyberpunk with pluck and fortitude that is not to be underestimated. Love Mwangi, UN interpreter and renowned linguist, would be played by Lupita Nyong'o of Black Panther and Us. Like Love, Nyong’o was raised primarily in Nairobi. She is worldly and has dual Kenyan and Mexican citizenship. Dr. Zhen Liu would be played by Chinese actress Zhou Xun of Cloud Atlas and The Equation of Love and Death. Zhou has appeared in over 30 films and is the first entertainer to receive the UNEP's Champion of the Earth award.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Arctic

Jack Campbell, a photojournalist on assignment with National Geographic, would be played by Bradley Cooper of A Star is Born and Silver Linings Playbook. He is older than the character, but he’s too perfect as a golden boy with good looks and easy charm. He could flip on a dime between comedy, drama, and the middle ground. Dr. Maya Gutiérrez, an oceanographer, would be played by Gina Rodriguez of Annihilation and Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez can be endearing but dogged like Maya. Lt. Ned Brandt, Healy’s helicopter pilot and crewmember, will be played by the physically strong, funny, and lovable Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy and Parks & Rec.

Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate and Indigenous activist, was both my most complicated character and biggest casting challenge. The role requires an Indigenous actor with Amazonian heritage who can also speak English. A friend tipped me off to the Indigenous actor Nilbio Torres of Embrace of the Serpent—the first Colombian film ever to receive a nomination for an Academy Award. Torres worked in a jungle plantation when a film crew arrived, offered him a role, and sent him to acting classes in Bogotá. The new actor is more than 20 years too young to play Gustavo and lacks the language capability, but he exemplifies the right kind of casting decision.
Visit Claire Holroyde's website.

--Marshal Zeringue