Musings

A Series of Adaptations: Who Deserves Time on the Small Screen?

When I was recently reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, I couldn’t help thinking how he’d written it in a way that just screamed for it to be made into a movie or tv series (and it was, Johnny Depp starred in the movie).

But since I didn’t really enjoy that book, I didn’t want to think about who would play Kemp or Yeamon or Chenault in my own movie or TV version. I didn’t really care. But I’ve read a lot of books, this year and in general, that I’ve loved. I do care who would play those characters.

So today, for a new post in my series of adaptations, I’m going to talk about what books should be made into TV SERIES, not movies, and what actors should play my favorite characters. Some of these have already been made into movies or shows, but that’s okay! This is my dream adaptation, so I’m going to pretend like those casts don’t exist. (NOTE: I’m not going to include the Harry Potter series because I think the cast for those movies was perfect, despite the incredibly low quality (in my opinion) of quite a few of the movies.)

Because there are millions and millions of books out there, I’m limiting my choices down to only a few. I’m trying to go with different types of books to highlight the different ways shows can be made.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus, Rick Riordan

Fun Fact: I saw the first Percy Jackson movie before I ever read the corresponding book. I was on my flight home from my internship in London, and it was an option to watch! I’d heard about the books, so I figured why not. I actually enjoyed the movie, I thought it was cute. (Let’s not talk about the second one released last year). I read the book a couple of months later and was SHOCKED that it was not even close to the same plot! I couldn’t believe how much it’d been altered. I loved the book so much and was an immediate PJO fan, and kept on trucking until The Blood of Olympus, the fifth book in the companion Heroes of Olympus series, was released last fall. I’m definitely still going through Percy Jackson withdrawal.

Anyway, I think these two series would make an INCREDIBLE TV show on ABC Family or even CW. There’s so much material! It could run for 6-8 seasons, even! I wouldn’t mind with changing the ages to make it easier to get an actor. Change the prophecy from 16 to 20. And then you get a teenage show. Perfect. So who should my main actors be? (Because it’d be such a large cast, I’m only doing those who would START the series, AKA just PJO)

Percy: Dylan O’Brien. Dylan has the perfect look to be Percy. He’s thin, tall, and has that little look of mischief about him, but you still know he’s got a great heart. He’s got the acting chops to carry a series (as we’ve seen from Teen Wolf) and has already proved he’s got the perfect sarcasm-meter. If he grows his hair out and puts some green contacts in, Dylan is everything Percy is described as being. I love Dylan’s wit and cannot stop picturing him as Percy now.
Annabeth: Elle Fanning. I debated a lot between the Fanning sisters for the coveted role of Annabeth. Ultimately I chose Elle because I think she’s got the right face. A little more haughty than her sister’s, she’ll be able to pull off Annabeth’s frustration with Percy’s mythological ignorance early in the seasons. I also like that she’s not physically imposing the way others need to be. Elle is very tall and thin, which is how I’ve always pictured Annabeth – she’s not physically imposing because she doesn’t need to be an Ares brute. She’s cunning, and that manifests physically in a thin frame.
Grover: Brandon Jackson. Okay, okay, so this is very much NOT ignoring the movies, since Brandon played Grover in the movies as well. Yes, he’s a little above the right age, but I loved his Grover. He is, in my opinion, the perfect Grover. I think he provides the right amount of support and sass for Percy. Plus, Grover is supposed to be a little bit older than Percy is, although Brandon isn’t scrawny enough really. But that’s okay – I’ve seen goats, and some are pretty muscley. Grover can be a muscley satyr.
Luke: Alex Pettyfer. Alex works because he’s good looking enough to pull you in and think he’s a hero, while also having the ability to turn on the dark side. As the anti-hero-villain of the series, he needs to seem redeemable. Alex brings that to the character. He also looks older than the other characters, which is necessary, because he is older than the others!

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The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

So this is would be a great show because it’s based on a true story. The fact that all of the events are already laid out, waiting to be put onto the screen, is a huge plus. Being able to really dive in to the minds of these crazed characters would be really something. It would have to be on a cable network – maybe A&E or HBO or something like that – because of how dark it can get. I mean, one of the main characters is a serial killer. However, NBC has done well with Hannibal lately, so I guess it’s not unreasonable to think that one of the major networks would want to broadcast a show with this storyline. The juxtaposition between Burnham’s quest to build the world’s greatest fair and Holmes’ evil ability to twist that optimism to his sinister ends would be an incredible exploration and would give for a lot of fun Lost-esque flashes between story lines.

Daniel Burnham: Josh Lucas. This was a hard one. Obviously, I want someone who can emulate the real person, but also an actor that can command the screen. So I decided to go with who I wanted to see, rather than who necessarily looked like the actual person. Sorry?! I feel a bit bad, but I really love Josh Lucas. I think he’s got the right optimism and fervor in his looks to portray someone working on the biggest fair in the world. He can pull off the slow-burning, obsessive longing; we’ve seen that in movies like Sweet Home Alabama.
John Root: Shawn Ashmore. Again, i went for looks and acting here rather than physical likeness. Shawn would be the first main actor to exit the series, since Root sadly dies before the completion of the World’s Fair. The loss of His business partner really eats at Burnham throughout the book, and I think Shawn and Josh would be able to cultivate the relationship necessary where you’d believe that Root’s presence was missed. Plus, you could always bring Ashmore back in flashbacks, which I think would be great.
HH Holmes: Leo DiCaprio. Fun fact: in 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights to this novel and intended to play Holmes in the movie. I had no idea until researching for this post. I think Leo could be a great Holmes, although I think (at this point) he is a little old for the role. Holmes was only 34 when he died, so you’d have to get Leo back into good shape with a shaved beard! I think I’ll go with Leo, though. His range is incredible, and he could definitely portray the madness in the man.

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Graduates in Wonderland, Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

I’m picturing this series very “Girls”-esque. Because this book is literally a compilation of emails two girls send back and forth, there’s already so much narration going on that is just begging to be acted out. I’d love to see how things played out where we can see the action happen that inspired the emails – Rachel’s depression in New York and her  frustration with Olivier, Jess’ confusion over Sam and Callum, and her realization that there’s no actual confusion at all. I think it would be great on a channel like HBO or Showtime, where they really get into the real and nitty gritty of “millennial” life. Their adventures take place over a couple of years in the book, so it’d be easy to stretch the show out to 4 seasons.

Jess: Jamie Chung. So despite the fact that Jamie is Korean and Jess is Chinese, I think this is the perfect fit. Jamie has the same soft face and bright eyes that Jess has (I’ve seen pictures on their website graduatesinwonderland.com) and I heard Jamie’s voice in my head when I read the book, honestly.
Rachel: Jessica Chastain. I don’t know why, but I cannot get Chastain out of my head for this role. I think she’s got the timidness that Rachel displays throughout the book, but still has the ability to hold her head up and make the hard decisions like Rachel eventually needs to. She’s a great actress, and Rachel really goes through the gamut of emotions throughout this book. My only issue is age – can Chastain pull off being in her early twenties? I’m not sure. But, it’s my party, so she’s my choice!

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Playing for Pizza, John Grisham

So I feel a bit like I’m cheating for this one. I haven’t actually finished this book yet. I was going back and forth over whether it would be okay to put it in and then I realized, this is my blog! I can do what I want! F%$k the haters! Or something to that effect. I’m probably only about a quarter of the way through this book, but I really think it’d be a perfect TV show. The book centers around Rick Doherty, a third string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns whose time in the league has most definitely run out. After surprisingly playing in the AFC Championship game, he puts up possible the worst game in the history of games and is subsequently run out of the NFL. When he insists his agent, Arnie, finds him a new team to play for, Rick is in for a surprise. Arnie does have a team for him – the Panthers, of Parma, Italy. I just think it’s a great concept for a show. You’d have Rick’s adjustment period in Italy combined with flashbacks of his woeful NFL career. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?

Rick: Tom Welling. Yes, he’s got a baby face, but he’s actually 38! And if Rick was in the NFL for 6 years, he’d have to be about 30. He might be washed up, but he’s not incredibly old, and you need someone who could theoretically age into the roll. Tom Welling is attractive and athletic looking, and would be a big draw. (My other half, who loves this book, argues Denis Leary is a better fit because he looks older and more rugged. I can’t argue with his reasoning, but I still choose the younger star).
Arnie: Jon Favreau. Doesn’t Favreau just seem like the guy who would shoulder the burden of making calls to teams on poor Rick’s behalf? I think so.
Sam: Mark Harmon. Look, NCIS has to end eventually, right? And when it does, he can settle in as a coach of an Italian football team. He’s the perfect mix of intensity and complacency, and would be able to sell the beauty of an ex-NFLer playing in Italy while being realistic about the way football is handled overseas.

IMG_0676The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson

Who doesn’t love a good supernatural teen thriller? Uh, nobody! I really enjoyed this book – the first in a trilogy – earlier this year and I think it would be an awesome TV show. This story, where England sees a repeat of the gruesome Jack the Ripper killings, has teen angst, confusion, and happiness, and it belongs on a network like CW, where they wouldn’t be afraid to show the gross and would play up the love and happiness as well. Because I’ve only read the first book, however, my character choices reflect that. Sorry if I miss an important one because they show up in book 2 or 3!

Rory: Lucy Hale. I love Lucy Hale as an actress, and I think she would make a great Rory. Though she’s in her late 20s, she’s certainly used to playing a teen on Pretty Little Liars, and I think she could handle it one more time. I’d love to see her go out of her comfort zone and really become a self-assured hero the way Rory does in the book.
Jazza: Emma Roberts. As Rory’s first real friend in England, you need someone who is super sympathetic but also noticeable. Though Jazza’s importance fades throughout the first book, I still think you need to create screen time for her. I wanted more Jazza in the book, so a notable actress would get us that in the show. Emma Roberts has that way about her of looking very proper, and you need that for Jazza.
Boo: Afshan Azad. Afshan played Padma Patil in the Harry Potter movies. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to think of her for this role, but she’s actually perfect. Boo is the reason we see less of Jazza, and Jerome, as her arrival signifies the real move into supernatural territory. Boo is still pretty great though, and she adds a lot of spunk and kindness into Rory’s life. This was one of the hardest choices for me, because I had a picture of a person in my head and literally could not figure out who the person was. But Afshan fits this role. If you follow her social media, she’s got the right kind of spunk and in-your-face-ness that Boo has.
Jerome: Caleb Landry Jones. Caleb is great for Jerome because he’s already proven he’s a great supporting star. Jerome gets less screen time, per se, as the book goes on, but he was really interesting at the start. He knows a lot about Jack the Ripper, making him pretty invaluable to Rory as she learns what’s really going on in London. In my mind, he’s meant to be a ginger, like a young Damien Lewis. Because Damien Lewis cannot be randomly de-aged to a teenager, I decided to go with Caleb instead. He’ll definitely suffice as a beginner love interest.
Copycat Ripper: Clark Gregg. I know, I know, everyone’s favorite Marvel agent can’t be evil! But I’m telling you, in this series he can be. He’s the perfect fit to be our copycat of England’s most notorious killer ever.

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So, lovely readers, tell me what you think? Would you watch these shows? What books would you want to be TV shows – and who would play your favorite characters?

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2 thoughts on “A Series of Adaptations: Who Deserves Time on the Small Screen?

  1. I actually agree with you on the PJO! I thought the first movie was okay, and I didn’t like the second one. I too watched the movie first before I read the book, and I was so shocked to find out that yes, a lot of it was altered! I haven’t read the other books that you were talking about, so I’ll just stick to PJO. I totally love the people that you “cast” for the series, I’d definitely watch it!!!! 😀

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