Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sung J. Woo's "Deep Roots"

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, PEN/Guernica, and Vox. He has written four novels, Deep Roots (2023), Skin Deep (2020), Love Love (2015), and Everything Asian (2009), which won the 2010 Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award. In 2022, his Modern Love essay from The New York Times was adapted by Amazon Studios for episodic television. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.

Here Woo dreamcasts an adaptation of Deep Roots:
Deep Roots is the second in the Siobhan O'Brien mysteries, and back in 2020, I wrote up My Book, The Movie for the first volume, Skin Deep. Since it would be very gauche to recast the lead, I once again implore Awkwafina to take on Siobhan. Since 2020, Nora Lum (her real name) has starred in seven full-length features and a TV show, Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, which has already had three seasons, so there's no question my imaginary casting has had a very positive effect on her career. No need to thank me, Nora! The only other returning character I've previously fake cast is Seth Rogan for Craig, and even though his role is diminished in this outing, I'd love to continue to hear his instantly recognizable laughter.

Now there is another returning character, but because it was a small role, I hadn't bothered to hold a make-believe audition: Beaker. Here's a snippet of Beaker from Deep Roots, where he makes his initial entrance:
Except as soon as my phone touched the desk, somebody knocked on my door. Jesus Christ, it was going to be one of those days, wasn’t it?

“Come in,” I said.

After staring at the five-inch screen of my phone for more than an hour, if a little person had walked in, they would’ve seemed like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But the man that now stood in front of me was actually tall enough to be an NBA center, so it felt like I was craning my neck up at a skyscraper.
Now Beaker, Siobhan's soon-to-be-intern, is supposed to be a sophomore in college, but since we are in fantasy land, let's jump in a time machine and go back, say, fifteen years to when Nicholas Braun, none other than Cousin Greg from Succession, was a strapping twenty-year-old. I imagine he was already 6'7" then, so he'd be a perfect fit. His goofy energy absolutely channels Beaker.

Since this novel takes place in a mansion not unlike Downton Abbey's, I hope the owners of Highclere Castle would allow the cast and crew to come in and...okay, well, even my own pretending has its limits. I'm sure we can find a financially strapped castle somewhere who'd love to have us, since then after the movie they can give tours and such.

There are so many people in this novel that a genealogy/flowchart is included, but the main ones to address are:

Phillip Ahn, patriarch - Russell Wong is still too young and entirely too handsome, but he's now 60 and makeup can do its magic.

Ruth Ahn, first wife - Michelle Yeoh, of course. In Crazy Rich Asians, she played one hell of a hardass; in this one, she'd have to be an even harder ass, but there's nothing Michelle can't do.

Cassandra Ahn, second wife - one of the few non-Asian roles. Of Greek origin, let's get Tina Fey -- today I learned that she's Greek from her mom's side.

Lola Ahn, third wife - she's a terrible actress, so someone who's a great actress could only play her -- step right up, Ali Wong.

Eve Ahn, first daughter from Ahn's first marriage - Greta Lee's got the acerbic chops.

Lady Mary, second daughter from Ahn's first marriage - elegant and beautiful with a touch of haughty: Elodie Yung.

Duke, the son and heir from third marriage - Bowen Yang was born to play him.

Cameron, butler - I envisioned Mr. Carson from Downton, so why not have Jim Carter himself?

Thomas and William, footmen - I literally used the same names as the two footmen from Downton, so again, let's bring them in: Rob James-Collier and Thomas Howes.

Evie, granddaughter - as sharp, smart, and cutting as her grandfather: Lana Condor would kill, no question.

That's quite a cast. Hopefully they'll all be willing to work for scale...
Visit Sung J. Woo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything Asian.

My Book, The Movie: Skin Deep.

Q&A with Sung J. Woo.

The Page 69 Test: Skin Deep.

--Marshal Zeringue