Every avid reader has at some point in their life found themselves appalled or angry over the silver screen butchering of their favorite novel. Hollywood and literary greatness can be vastly different, but when the two come together just right and the right the cast and crew blend with the perfect story the result is nothing short of magic. Sometimes books that never deserved the spotlight end up as films because their plot is easily transferable to that media and sometimes, more tragically, I think, books rightly decorated with awards and cult followings never make the cut.
I’d like to point out three such works. They have everything a producer could want in a film: drama, suspense, engaging characters and yet they’ve never successfully made it to the silver screen.
Ayn Rand’s magnum opus has almost but not quite made it to film on several occasions since its 1957 publishing. Even now talks are happening and contracts being circulated in attempt to try once more to bring this incredible novel to movie theaters. I imagine successfully editing the massive work down to a manageable script is no small feat, but let’s say they do. Who should direct it? Who could possibly play a believable Dagny Taggart? And Hank Reardon? What about the enigmatic John Galt?
Clint Eastwood had previously expressed interest in a potential film adaptation though there’s no word on what capacity he would be working on it if at all. Though you’d be hard pressed to find a more talented and experienced director.
Dagny – Imagine Charlize Theron tall, slim, and captivating, defiantly wearing the bracelet of Reardon Steel.
Hank – He should be played by someone with apparent strength and a blue collar look about him, a man never afraid to get his hands dirty, Russell Crowe perhaps or Viggo Mortensen.
Francisco D’Anconia – This would be a difficult role to cast. Guy Pierce is a possibility though Antonio Banderas would probably be a better fit.
John Galt – By far this would be the toughest character of all to cast. It would be more fitting to use an actor who didn’t yet have a name, someone who could rightly embody the mystery that surrounds the character. If I had to choose someone from the current known pool, however, it would be Brad Pitt hands down.
This is another novel that keeps swinging and missing in the movie business. Diana Gabaldon’s hit book series has everything a good movie needs: passion, suspense, drama, mystery. It’s like a ready-made blockbuster. The series is so popular there is a cache of Youtube clips from fans nominating their favorite actors for parts.
Claire Beauchamp – The actress that plays Claire needs to be fiery and self asserting and Kate Winslett fits that bill beautifully.
Jamie Fraser – This would be a controversial role to fill. Every woman who’s read this series inevitably has a personal attachment to this character and finding just the right man to live up to those standards would be no easy task. My first choice for the part would be James McAvoy though Gerard Butler is a close second. McAvoy encapsulates that boyish charm that is necessary for the role but Bulter has the build that makes Jamie such a physical force in the novel. However, Collin Farrell (though Irish rather than Scottish) may be the best of both worlds.
Frank/Jonathon Randall – This part could easily be played by the same actor and for the sake of the story it almost should be. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter) would be a good fit though the Jonathon Randall character is almost perfectly suited for the talents of Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Carribean – Lord Cutler Beckett).
Colum MacKenzie – A fitting role for the ever authoritive Brian Cox (Bourne Identity – Ward Abbot/Super Troopers – Captain O’Hagan).
Dougal MacKenzie – Brendan Gleeson would be perfect for either of the MacKenzie brother roles but I’d choose him for Dougal based solely on his performance as Kingdom of Heaven’s Reynald (He also played the role of Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter).
As for a director for the potential film, it would have to be someone who could capture the time travel element without making it cheesy. Robert Schwentke did this well with The Time Traveller’s Wife and would be an excellent fit.
Brave New World
There was, in fact, already an adaptation of this Aldous Huxley novel made back in 1998 though it was only made-for-TV and had a lackluster reception. Let’s say a new script could attract the attention of a large enough production company, what cast would suit the updated version?
Thomas (or Tomakin) – Ralph Fiennes is such an excellent character actor that he could truly fill almost any role.
Lenina – This character is so simultaneously shallow and complicated. Rachel Weisz would be a perfect fit.
Bernard Max – Barring his height, Colin Firth has the quiet, contemplative air that would serve him well playing the brooding, antisocial Bernard.
Mustapha Mond – Perhaps it was his role as the chancellor in V for Vendetta but when thinking of this part my mind went instantly to John Hurt. He has the commanding presence and air of authority that would be needed to play the Ford.
Helmholtz – This character is such a man conflicted. I can see Hugh Laurie or Daniel Craig easily fitting it well.
John the Savage – The Savage, like John Galt, would almost have to be played by an unknown, but if forced into picking an established actor I inevitably think of Ewan McGregor.
The director for Brave New World would need to experienced in the world of science fiction in order to adequately capture the futuristic world. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Terry Gilliam or even Stephen Spielberg are all excellent choices.