Monday, July 9, 2012

Casting Call: Choosing the Right Christian Grey

Spoiler Alert: Clearly, I am going to make references to the Fifty Shades series, so if you haven't read it, (a) what are you waiting for (b) don't read on... or do. I don't really care.  I'm not going to reveal anything very telling. I just figure that if I don't warn people, I'll get a nasty-gram from someone saying "Oh no! I didn't know they had sex in an elevator! You ruined it!" All the spoilers on in bold so when you get up to those parts, close your eyes or something.

Going from best-selling book to blockbuster film is difficult. Everyone is a critic. Hell, I'm about to launch into a sh*t-ton of criticism and they haven't even finished the screen-play yet!

Fans of a book, whenever a book is converted to screenplay, are notoriously as easy to displease as Christian when Ana doesn't want to keep the car he bought her (Chapter 15, Fifty Shades of Grey). That said, the movie people can get off on the right foot by not casting like idiots. I'm not in the film industry but I'm guessing they pick the guy or gal they think will have the biggest box-office draw to all people, whether they have read the book or not. Give Americans some credit. Sure, we are typically morons who don't really deserve much credit at all, but we don't all run to see a movie just because Tom Cruise is in it.

While we are on the subject of Tom Cruise and piss-poor casting choices, any fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher series will tell you that Cruise as Reacher is just plain laughable. Read the physical description of the Reacher character, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Reacher is 6' 5" tall (1.96m) with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 210 and 250 pounds (100–115 kg). He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat, and his muscular physique is completely natural (he reveals in Persuader, he has never been an exercise enthusiast.) He is exceptionally strong but is not a good runner.[2] Reacher's strength is combined with his savant intellect and military training, analyzing his environment and opponents at extremely high processing speeds. He mentally plans his fights using physics in a scientific calculating method, much like Sherlock Holmes. He knows how to break a man's neck with one hand (Bad Luck and Trouble) and kill a villain with a single punch to the head (Running Blind and 61 Hours) or chest (Worth Dying For). In a fight against a 7 foot, 400 lb steroid-using thug (Persuader), Reacher was able to lift his opponent into the air and drop him on his head.

Now, I'm certain that Cruise can pull off the ex-military moves but everything else is beyond a stretch. Years ago, way before a movie was on the table, when my husband and I starred reading the series we were hard-pressed to come up with a good choice for a lead. After a while we came up with Dwayne Johnson. More recently we switched to Chris Helmsworth. But TOM CRUISE? C'mon! The trailer dropped the other day and I was hoping I'd be proved wrong. Check it out. At the end of the trailer, when he's taking on like 6 dudes, an impressive scene in the book, I wasn't sure I'd I wanted to laugh or cry. I'll probably see it anyway, at least on DVD or cable. If I'm anticipating a train wreck, maybe it won't be so bad.

But, I digress. I'm here to talk about the casting of the mercurial, über-hot, insanely rich, damaged and (did I say über-hot?), Christian Grey of the popular Fifty Shades series. To be honest, I don't have a strong opinion about who should be cast but I do have some things to look for, so all you big movie muckety-mucks that I'm sure make up about .005% of my readers, PAY ATTENTION!

Please, don't think of Grey as the Edward Cullen of the BDSM set.  Please, don't dismiss the average Fifty Shades reader as a bored, sexual pent-up housewife looking for a soft-core porn read. Sure there are some of those in every love-story fan base but most of us, I hope, got more than horny out of the series. There's a storyline there and the main characters are complex, so sincerely I hope they don't f*ck-it up like Christian did when he busted out the ruler (Chapter 11, Fifty Shades Darker).

So, who to play Christian? He's late-twenties and insanely good-looking so the pool of actors fitting that bill is vast. I'm hearing a lot of buzz about Ryan Gosling as a good choice for Christian. Sure he's hotter than Christian and Ana in an elevator (Chapter 11, Fifty Shades Darker) but is that enough?

The actor needs to capture the many shades of this character, without appearing schizophrenic. Hell, it's not called Fifty Shades for nothing. He can be cold one minute and tender the next. He is extremely good looking, successful and confident, yet lacks self-assurance in emotional matters. Finding the right fit is is going to be harder than Anastasia's limit with regards to genital clamps (Chapter 15, Fifty Shades of Grey).

We've established that Ryan Gosling is hot. Hang on? Did we? Let's double-check...

...yup, still very hot. But is he Christian?

I find that a lot of comparison can be drawn between the Christian Grey character and that of Dexter Morgan (from Dexter, Showtime), without all the murderey bits.

Both are the products of a traumatic early childhood. Both were adopted into a better life. Both feel they are devoid of emotion are caught off-guard and dubious when they feel something real. Both can be confident yet unsure. Both can be cold and calculated but tender in other moments. Both are typically calm and in control but are prone to rage-driven actions. Both have mommy-issues.

Michael C. Hall pulls that range of emotion off quite effortlessly in Dexter but he's not Christian.  He's too old.  He's not the right-kind of good looking and he wouldn't look like a billionaire even in the fanciest suit.  Plus, you'd always be expecting him to don a rubber apron and welder's mask whenever someone pissed him off.

The part can't be cast on looks alone but I'm as hard-pressed as Ana trussed up in Christian's childhood bedroom (Chapter 7, Fifty Shades Darker) to come up with a good physical match.  I think it's the unruly copper hair that's throwing me off.  I can't think of a single actor that fits that description.

However, copper hair aside, anyone who's watched True Blood from the beginning should be able to easily see Alexander Skarsgard in the role of Christian Grey.  Not only is he plenty hot and very Christian-like in appearance,  (See the picture on the right.  If that's not a Christian pose, I don't know what is!) but the Eric Northman character has been equally mercurially as the seasons have progressed.   There's the cold and seemingly heartless Eric of Season 1. The fiercely loyal Eric of Season 2. The emotionally shaken Eric of Season 3 and the truly child-like and needy Eric of Season 4. Plus, he clearly has no problem taking his clothes off.  I think I've seen him naked more often than my husband. The more I think about it, the more I think the fit might be as perfect as the powder-blue bra bought for Ana by Christian's security detail (Chapter 8, Fifty Shades of Grey).

Ana should be easier to choose.  She's an interesting girl but no where near as complex as her counterpart. I'm no casting director.  I don't really know who to cast in either role.  I just urge the big-wigs in charge, you know, the ones who are NOT reading my blog, to go for more than just a pretty face.  If not, this movie might suck more than Ana in the bathtub (Chapter 9, Fifty Shades of Grey). 

Note:  If you did't read the books, you know you want to now!  I should get a cut of all the copies that are going to be sold now!