As part of The Weight of Souls blog tour, I am pleased to welcome Bryony Pearce onto the blog to tell us about her ideal cast and locations for the book should it ever be made into a film.
I put off writing this post for ages. It was one I was really looking forward to, but at the same time, I was also nervous. One of the reasons for this is that I knew I’d have difficulty casting my characters. I know what they look and sound like, but I thought that to find real people that matched my mental image, and more importantly, my reader’s would be impossible.
So, being a wimp, I tackled the easiest part of my Movie Maker post first: the setting.
Most of the book is set in present day London with locations ranging from Shepherds Bush to Hammersmith, Kensington to Streatham. There are a number of scenes in Taylor’s school (which I actually picture more like my own old school, Samuel Whitbread in Bedfordshire) and a number of scenes inside various places, such as Angel Tube station, Pizza Express and the Science Museum. I’m sure they’d let us shoot our fantasy movie there.
Now, the soundtrack. I have a post about the soundtrack to my book on http://www.bookangelbooktopia.com/, so I don’t want to duplicate it here. Needless to say, it starts dark, gritty and urban and segues into something more anthemic.
Justin’s theme is Viva la Vida by Coldplay.
Justin and Taylor’s love song is I’m not Calling you a Liar by Florence and the Machine.
The playlist itself exists on Spotify (http://spoti.fi/12egbcs), so have a listen, let me know what you think and what you might add.
Now, the Director. Again a difficult one to fit. I wanted a Director who worked in the UK, who was able to produce something both dark and urban, and also uplifting, and who could get the best out of young actors. Two films came to mind: Attack the Block and the final Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows part 2). When I realised that Joe Cornish, who Directed Attack the Block, also did Hot Fuzz (one of my top ten films alongside The Matrix, Princess Bride, The Faculty, Serenity, Avengers Assemble, 21 Jump Street, Galaxy Quest, Pitch Black and Stardust), I decided that I would ask him to direct The Weight of Souls.
Now to the hard part. I was especially concerned about casting my two main characters, Taylor and Justin, partly because they are so clear to me, but also because Taylor is half Chinese.
There are not a great many half-Chinese British actresses (in fact I had difficulties casting all of my ethnic cast members, which is a sad indictment of the industry). In fact the only one I could think of was Katie Leung who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise.
A little more research threw up Yifei Liu, a very beautiful full Chinese actress. Both are technically too old now to play Taylor, but as a few of my other actors err on the older side, I decided to allow it.
I was torn between the two, but as Katie is a Scot and I’d quite like to see her play someone bad-ass, I decided to cast her. So here is Katie Leung as Taylor Oh:
Next, my male lead, Justin. For him I have cast Andrew Garfield. Although the actor was born in LA, he has a British mother and moved to Surrey when he was three, so I have no worries about his British accent. He has Justin’s eyes, build and hair and having seen him in Spiderman I think he’d do justice to the part. I also think he and Katie make a lovely looking couple.
Taylor’s best friend, with the ever changing hair is quirky, sweet and believes wholeheartedly that the ‘truth is out there’. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives: her mother is a drunk and brings home a series of boyfriends. Hannah has to maintain the house as well as keep up with her school work. I cast Juno Temple, who was born in England into a showbiz family and has a lovely fragile, ethereal, quirky but tough quality that I feel really exemplifies Taylor’s best friend.
Tamsin should have been easy to cast (a blonde bitchy type shouldn’t have been a problem), but I actually did have difficulties, because Tamsin is deeper than that. She is Taylor’s opposite, but also her twin (Tamsin means twin), she is the Yin to Taylor’s Yang. Tamsin hides her real self behind a veneer and has also been in love with Justin. She is Taylor gone wrong. I was looking at Abigail Breslin for the role of Hannah (I remembered her from Signs) but had discounted her because she was American. Then I saw pictures of her now (she is older and has gone blonde) and thought, wow, she could definitely play Tamsin. In the book Tamsin puts on a fake US accent because she thinks it’s cool, so I have no problem casting an American actress for this part. I’d like to see this actress play a bad guy and I think she’d bring a real depth to her.
Pete is another one I had trouble with. It isn’t easy to find young black British actors on IMDB. Then I remembered Attack the Block. The main actor in that, John Boyega, was incredibly nuanced (and gorgeous). That moment at the end where you find out that he is only fifteen and has cartoon bedding is just heart-rending. So he had to be my Pete.
Pete plays the tough guy, but he has been damaged by all the things he has done with James and Tamsin. He was in love with Taylor and resented her for rejecting him; that led him to join the group tormenting her. Yet Taylor remains loyal to Pete to the point of self-sacrifice. Pete is a boy with a lovely smile and I’m a bit in love with him.
The real baddie in the group is James: a blonde haired, blue eyed monster who looks like a good guy. He takes in all the adults, but not Taylor. His dark underside is as black as the terrifying darkness itself which ultimately comes for Taylor and takes her away. Freddie Stroma is a British born actor, perfect for James. He is a little older than I’d like, but looks the part and has a degree in Neuroscience, so I’m impressed.
The final cast member that I’m going to include is Taylor’s dad, Gabriel. For this one I like Rufus Jones. He’s a British actor best known for comedy, but he was a friend at University and if you can’t cast your friends in fake movies, then who can you cast?
I think this would make a fantastic movie. Having been anxious about casting, I think I have come up with a brilliant cast: hugely talented, reflective of the qualities I like in my characters and a lot of fun. Do let me know what you think.
The Weight of Souls was published on the 1st August by Strange Chemistry.
You can contact Bryony on Twitter as @BryonyPearce or via her Facebook page: BryonyPearceAuthor. You can even email Bryony through a link on her website www.bryonypearce.co.uk
Want to read the first couple of chapters of The Weight of Souls? Then click on the link below.
If that has caught your interest, how would you like the opportunity to win a copy of The Weight of Souls? Check out the link below to see how you can be in with a chance of winning a copy. You have until the 24th August to enter.