Apologies for taking a while on this one, but judging turned out to be harder than I anticipated. There were a lot of names I didn’t recognize on the casts, and I had to do some research so I could consider them all in fairness. Thankfully, in the age of IMDB, google images, and YouTube, casting research is a lot easier.
Let me start by thanking everyone who took the time to submit an entry. It means a lot to me, really, and everyone’s cast lists were fun to read. I really had a blast with this contest. I’m really glad Matt thought of it. One of the wonderful things about books is how everyone imagines something different when they read.
Since some people used the same names twice, I decided to use a complicated point system to score the entries, which in retrospect made a lot of extra work for me. Without looking at names, I made my own ideal cast from the options all of you presented, and then scored the entries to see which entrants had the most matches. It took all day to compile and sort the lists, and some of the calls were very hard to make. Occasionally there will be runners up, and I will count those as a point as well.
Let’s start with the backup dancers:
BRUNA: Dame Judi Dench
There were a lot of great choices for this one, but while Glenn Close and Hillary Clinton were solid possibilities, there was really no other choice once I saw Dame Judi Dench on the list. Just thinking of her Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love playing Bruna sends a thrill through me. “She’s been plucked since I’ve seen her last, and not by you. Takes a woman to know.”
Arrick was a hard one. There were lots of good entries, but none of them really spoke to me. I picture Arrick as a man who was once very handsome with a beautiful voice, but alcoholism, hair loss and age have taken much of it away. He doesn’t handle it well, using makeup and hats to desperately try and maintain some semblance of his former beauty. Dani and I were laughing, saying it should be Kenneth Branagh.
Out of the choices given, Dani is voting Colin Firth, but I am having trouble picturing him blonde and balding. I was thinking Kevin Durand, whose name I didn’t recognize, but when I looked him up on IMDB, I was like, “Oh! The squinty guy! I love the squinty guy!” I think he could do a pretty good job of being drunk, bitter, and abusive.
I’ll count either one.
RAGEN: Jeremy Irons
I picture Ragen as a rough kind of handsome, late thirties/early forties with a thick beard, and a powerful (but not bulky) build. He is half knight and half cowboy, a hard man no one in their right mind wants to fuck with. I’ve always wanted him to be Viggo Mortensen.
That said, out of the choices at hand, I’d go with Jeremy Irons, despite the fact that every time I think of him, I remember the Dungeons & Dragons movie and throw up in my mouth a bit. Eragon wasn’t much better. Maybe this would redeem him to me.
ELISSA: Rachel Weiz
Elissa is not the biggest character in the book, but she is one that is very important to me. I’m very picky about who I would let play her. I was having a tough time choosing until I saw Rachel Weiz on the list. She is so underrated. I think her stellar performances shine in even bad movies, and she has a unique beauty that is refreshingly outside the plastic Hollywood mainstream. She is a perfect Elissa.
I wanted to pick Felicia Day because she is awesome and I have recently become obsessed with The Guild, not to mention Dr. Horrible. I agree that she can portray a great range of emotions, which is not surprising since she is Joss Whedon approved, and he is very demanding on his actors. However, I think she looks too young. Elissa should be 35-40 and terrified of losing her ability to bear children before she can have one. While Felicia is like 30, she won the genetic lottery and still looks 22, and will likely continue to do so until she is 50.
I always pictured Cob as Oliver Reed (Proximo from Gladiator), but he died a couple of year ago. There were a lot of great entries for this character, and most of them would probably fly, I think. In the end I went with James Cosmo, the dad that has his hand chopped off in Braveheart, but I am granting runner up status to Ray Winstone, as well.
ELONA: Monica Bellucci
There were a lot of funny and creative choices for this key role, but none better than Monica Bellucci. I have long maintained that Ms. Bellucci was as beautiful a woman as the human race has to offer (and believe me, I’ve looked carefully). She is also a brilliant actor. My only reservations with her in this role would be a possible accent trace, and the fact that Elona is supposed to be less beautiful than Leesha, waning as Leesha waxes. You’d need a lot of makeup to make MB less attractive than anyone. Whoever plays Leesha would have to be stunning.
And now for the stars:
ARLEN: Chris Hemsworth
I’ve been joking for months that Arlen should be played by Chris Pine, who was Kirk in this summer’s Star Trek reboot. Ironic, then that I should be choosing Chris Hemsworth, the guy who played his dad in that same movie.
Dani says he’s hunky.
I’ve always imagined Leesha as Jennifer Connelly circa 1991 (The Hot Spot/Career Opportunities/The Rocketeer). She could have held her own against even Monica Bellucci, and she’s a fantastic actress who could totally bring the strength and brilliance of Leesha to the role.
Out of the given options, though, I’ve voting Odette Yustman though I’ve never actually seen her in anything. I looked at pictures of her on IMDB, though, and if she can act worth half a damn, she’s in.
I did seriously consider Anne Hathaway, who I’ve been very fond of ever since she hosted SNL. I’d let her read for it, but I’m not convinced she could handle the role. I’ll accept her as an answer anyway.
ROJER: Rupert Grint
Not really a lot of options came up for Rojer. I guess there are only a limited number of young ginger actors to choose from. The general consensus was Rupert Grint, and I’ll go along with that. Dani thinks ROjer should be Elijah Wood.
Originally, I was all about Naveen Andrews for this part, even though he’s a little short for Jardir. I’ve been converted to Oded Fehr, though. I think he would be good in the role, has the right face/body type, and can handle both the cultured leader and badass warrior aspects of Jardir well. I’ll accept either answer.
Ghassan Massoud would definitely get a part in The Desert Spear, though. Lots of roles for him. I like Alexander Siddig, but he is permanently typecast in my mind as dorky Dr. Bashir. I don’t think I could ever get past that, and he’s not hard enough to be Jardir anyway.
So counting the above at a point apiece, we have two entrants tied at 5 points (Chad Vernon and Melanie), and two tied at four with extra credit (Dwayne and Lisa Childs). Everyone please feel free to double-check my math if you think I short-changed you.
Being the magnanimous type, I’ve decided to up the # of prizes from 3 to 4 to avoid having to choose. I wish I could give prizes to everyone. So now there will be TWO Warded Man hardbacks, a German version, and a UK paperback. Chad and Melanie get first pick of the lot, and then Dwayne and Lisa can claim what’s left. I will of course inscribe the books however you like.
Winners please e-mail me from the address you used for your entry with a mailing address, your order of preference for the prizes, and anything you would like me to write in your copy.
If you didn’t win this time around, don’t be discouraged. There are more giveaways and contests to come!
Don’t forget I will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival today (Sunday Sept. 13)! Stop by if you can!