How I'd Cast a BATTLE FOR THE WASTELANDS Film Or Television Series
Awhile back, I appeared on the podcast Here Be Tygers to discuss The Thing in the Woods and how I'd cast a movie or TV series. Here's the episode. I later elaborated on that in a spoilery blog post.
Well, here're some ideas on Battle for the Wastelands, which would be good as either a series of feature films in the vein of The Lord of the Rings or (even better) an each-book-a-season prestige show like Game of Thrones. An earlier version was originally published a few months ago in my newsletter, which comes out every two weeks and is the first place to go for news of my public appearances, writing updates, etc.
Andrew Sutter-The protagonist of the novel, around 21 years old. Tall, lanky, with green eyes and straw-colored hair. Alex Pettyfur could conceivably work, although his being British is a problem. We don't want some kind of "Cary Elwes in Twister" accent situation. Dylan Sprayberry could work as an alternative. However, I'm not familiar with either's acting ability.
Sarah Sutter-Andrew's twin, also 21. She'd need to have the same hair and eye color and general coloring. Elizabeth Olsen and Emma Stone have the look, but they're too old to play the character. Maybe Hayden Panettiere? Here's a list of blonde actresses under 25. Some of these overlap with some of my ideas for Astrid Grendelsdottir (more on her later), although Astrid is several years younger.
Grendel-Antagonist, military dictator of the known world. Middle 50s and of essentially Viking background, but dark-haired rather than stereotypically blond. Built like a linebacker. Stellan Skarsgard has the right facial structure for Grendel and he seems to be around the right age, but he's too blond and people might not him seriously as a villainous warlord after seeing him as the comic-relief Erik Selvig in the Marvel films. It's not like he was really impressive as the Saxon king in King Arthur, where he just growled a lot. Lars Mikkelsen might work as well, since he doesn't look so old and Grendel is described as only starting to turn gray hair-wise.
Falki Grendelsson-Grendel's eldest surviving son and heir, around 20 years old. Whoever's cast as him would need to convincingly convey intensity and physical danger--he's a hunting fanatic, an extremely dangerous foe in hand-to-hand combat, and advocates harsher and more vindictive policies than his father. And due to his mother dying of cholera (and him nearly dying of it himself) as a child, he's more than a little bit of a germaphobe. However, he does have a couple Adorkable moments in the book, so there's a lighter side to him. Grendel's late wife was Jiao (a fantasy counterpart culture combining Chinese and Japanese elements) and Grendel's children most take after their mothers in looks (other than how they all have Grendel's gray eyes), so an Asian or biracial actor would be best. The cover of "Son of Grendel" is the one canonical image of Falki, so that can be a guide. Henry Golding from Crazy Rich Asians might work, although since I haven't seen the film I don't know how he could play an intense and kind of grim character.
Alonzo Merrill-Leader of the last major anti-Grendel force between the mountains and the deserts and the seas, in his 30s. Between how the Merrill culture gives me serious Rohirrim vibes and given Eomer's role as Eowyn's protective (if somewhat overbearing in the third film) older brother in The Lord of The Rings, Karl Urban would work well. He has the right intensity (in The Two Towers, he puts the hurt on the slimy Wormtongue when he figures out he's turned traitor in exchange for Eowyn as a reward) and can convincingly play military. The problem is, Urban is too old for the part and he'd basically be playing Eomer again, updated for an age of firearms. Scott Eastwood has the right look, although I've never seen him act. Anson Mount? A bit on the old side to play the character, but he was in the Western Hell on Wheels.
Jasper Clark-Commander of the Flesh-Eating Legion, a vassal regime of Grendel's known for ritual cannibalism. Dave Bautista has the physical presence, but he looks too young even if he's probably the same age as the character. Arnold Vosloo has the right look, but Jasper Clark (and the Flesh-Eaters more broadly) are the hill people in comparison to the lowlander Merrill elite and their subjects. Despite the differences in lifestyle and religion, they're broadly the same ethnically. A white South African would be a bit too exotic to play essentially an Anglo-American, although since I've only seen him in the Mummy films (where to be fair he convincingly plays an ancient Egyptian priest) and in Hard Target, I don't know his range. From a cash perspective Vosloo would be better, as owing to the MCU and Dune Bautista would probably be too expensive.
Catalina Merrill-Alonzo's younger sister and unwilling concubine of Grendel, very early 20s. In looks I based on her on early-career Danielle de Luca--red hair and hazel eyes. However, according to IMDB de Luca was born in 1978, making her older than me, let alone the character she'd portray. Also, Catalina is very, very math-smart in addition to being attractive and is particularly dedicated to her four-ish-year-old son's proper education. Felicia Day might be a better choice given how she's the Internet nerd queen, although she's only a year younger than de Luca.
(Having watched Baby's Day Out for a Myopia Movies bonus Patreon episode, Lara Flynn Boyle circa 1994 or someone like her would work even though her facial structure is rather different and her voice comes off as rather insipid. To be fair, that might be her character rather than her--I haven't seen her in anything else.)
Alyssa Carson-Andrew's tomboy love interest, part of the Merrill cavalry, in her early 20s. Blake Lively kind of looks right, although Alyssa's hair has more curl in it and the actress would be rather too old for the part. Alyssa is more worldly than Andrew and is the aggressor in their relationship, but she's not nearly twice his age. If Saoirse Ronan can play tough like Hailee Steinfeld in the 2010 True Grit, that'd work.
Arne Grendelsson-Grendel's second surviving son, in his late teens. Inherited his father's sharp mind, but easily bored (possible ADD?). Timothee Chalumet (playing Paul Atreides in the upcoming Dune mega-adaptation) might work, since Arne has dark and curly hair. Also although he's been physically trained in combat and other military matters since childhood like a medieval noble, he isn't assigned a formal military role until the second book and hasn't yet commanded men in battle. That Chalumet doesn't come off as as tough as a lot of other actors wouldn't be an issue, although I doubt Grendel would tolerate a son who's too emo.
Astrid Grendelsdottir-Blonde Sejer (Norse) girl in her late teens. Lilli Reinhart might work, especially given the more Germanic angle. Maiko Monroe from It Follows would work too. Of all of Grendel's children she seems like a more conventional teenage girl, especially in contrast to her grim older brother Falki, so mining CW shows for actors seems doable.
Signe Allensdottir-Grendel's senior concubine and Falki's de facto stepmother--Falki explicitly wishes his father would have married her formally rather than having a harem of much younger women. Someone like Jody Foster, Helen Hunt, or Laura Linney would work. She's not actually in the first book (she's referenced as away visiting relatives), but given her role in Grendel's gross personal life and her importance to Falki (as the mother of Arne and Astrid, whom Falki actually values rather than viewing as rivals, and advisor when he sits in for his father), that could be tweaked.
Lenora Starr-Another of Grendel's concubine's, mother of his third surviving son and greatly desirous he be heir instead. Amber Heard might be a bit on the young side to play the character. Anna Paquin could work, but she's so associated with Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood and Rogue from the X-Men films that people might have problems taking her seriously as a later-30s/early 40s schemer-type. Blake Lively might be more suitable for this part given her age.
Jessamine Keith-Grendel's youngest concubine and the first one we meet on-page, probably in her early 20s or very, very late teens. Here's a list of possible choices.
Sam Cotton-Andrew's hometown best friend, also early 20s. Ansel Elgort from Baby Driver might work, as could Freddie Highmore, although I've never seen them act. Chalumet from what I've seen him in comes off as too emo and pretty-boy to play a hardscrabble Old West small-towner.