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March 12th, 2013, 05:46 PM #1
Takoren is back...to beat a dead horse (WOT Casting thread; I'm sorry)
First of all, let me say that it has been a long time since I was here last; quite a bit seems to have changed, and I'm not sure where, if anywhere, a post like this belongs anymore. I don't see a Robert Jordan/Wheel of time board anymore (there was one the last time I was here but now no author save those who moderate/post here seems to have one). So, if this isn't where this post belongs, I apologize, and mods, if you could move it, that would be great.
Anyway, I want to start off by acknowledging that what I'm about to discuss has been discussed ad nauseum here and other places. But I can't help it; I'm a fan-casting nerd and I cast most of what I read. I fan-cast A Song of Ice and Fire when I first read those, and a few of my choices actually were cast (Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa, Conan Stevens, Gwendoline Christie).
I also know that quite a few on this board have long ago lost patience with The Wheel of Time. For a while, I was among them, and I still acknowledge the many, many flaws in this series.
But that being said, with the final volume finally released, I decided to get back into the books. I'm starting from the beginning, as there is much I don't recall, and as I read, I thought once again about how to adapt this to live-action media.
I honestly can't count the number of WOT casting threads, and casting SITES, out there. I know there are several. But what always struck me, even when I was first reading them, is that they seemed less to be "let's cast a live-action production of WOT" and more "These are the actors I picture when I visualize these characters". So we get some choices that just aren't gonna happen, like Clint Eastwood as Jaem. Maybe I'm too realistic, but when I see these casting threads for WOT, I get the feeling that some people not only expect that we'll get a series of big-screen films, but that they'll be the most expensive, cameo-laden films ever produced.
Back when I was first posting here, we fantasy fans were just starting to see our favorites on the big screen. We got The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Eragon and The Chronicles of Narnia practically back to back. Televised fantasy had mostly been ridiculous stuff like Sci-Fi channel originals (or their bastardizations of stuff like the Earthsea books) or Sam Raimi's intentionally silly shows like Hercules and Xena. Period tv in general almost didn't happen, and neither did co-productions with British TV. So naturally, back then we almost all wanted to see WOT as movies, not a TV show.
Times have changed. Since I quit posting here, we've seen TV series like Rome, The Tudors, Merlin, Game of Thrones, Camelot, The Borgias and Spartacus (and I'm sure I'm leaving a few out). These shows have ran the gamut in terms of overall quality, but all have shown that doing a period TV series (whether fantastical, historical or a mixture of the two) can be done, and while it may not be perfect, it can be done very well. There have also been numerous books of numerous genres adapted to television rather than film, and most have worked beautifully.
And when you think about it, if it is done as a long-form TV series, many of the problems that people complained about the most where the books were concerned (the repetitiveness, the languid pace, the pages upon pages of idle description, or the characters just sitting around doing nothing useful, the plot tangents that seemed to do little more than pad the story, etc.) can be cleaned up or gotten rid of, while the strengths of the story, the characters, the mysteries, the world-building, etc., can be played up and refreshed.
What really got me started thinking about this as I delved back into this series was a series of threads by Werthead over at his blog that discussed turning the books into a TV series, and how that could be done. It's a very well-reasoned argument (but then, I've always found Werthead to be a level-headed guy). He argues that with the success of the very shows I listed above (well, mostly Game of Thrones) that the likelihood of this series happening is now 100%, even if it's several years from now when it finally happens. The only thing he doesn't do is suggest actors for the roles.
Well, Takoren is here to fill that void. I did one of these way, waaay back when, and I found that site again, and let me tell you, back then, I was as bad as others when it came to putting expensive actors in roles they would never have taken. I took the time recently to cast the series again, and put my choices on a blog of my own.
What I tried to do (you can tell me if I succeeded) was place actors in roles appropriate for their level of fame vs. screentime. First off, I only cast certain roles; if a character appears only once or twice and has little effect on the plot (like, say, Lord Agelmar or Howal Gode), I left them off the list. Roles cast had to either be oft-appearing characters, or characters on whom the plot turned. In choosing who would play what role, I weighed the actor's fame and considered the amount of screen-time the character might have. If they were minor, but oft-appearing characters, then I tried to pick unknown or little-known actors. If the roles were larger or more memorable, I picked actors that were more recognizable (but the leads are still not very well-known). I confess I cast some roles because I just really liked the character. I also didn't cast some characters that might be considered essential, like Aginor or Balthamel, because they likely wouldn't appear more than once.
I'd like some input: you can find my blog here: http://wheeloftimetv.blogspot.com
Also, I'd really prefer constructive criticism. Believe me I understand, and share, many of the criticisms of these books, and even understand that some people on this forum just plain hate the series or tried to get into it and never could, etc. Please understand that what I'm asking for is constructive criticism of my casting choices, NOT opinions (good or bad) on the books or Mr. Rigney (Jordan) himself.
I also understand that many might be tempted to respond with "Why bother, this has been done to death". Well, I bother because I don't think a realistic casting for this series has been attempted yet. Here you won't find any "Chris-Hemsworth-as-Rand" (although that would be great) or "Clive-Owen-as-Lan" (which wouldn't be). You'll find actors chosen that will fit a TV series budget.
March 13th, 2013, 12:06 PM #2
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Cool list. I must admit that I am not familiar with most of the actors you have chosen, but based on looks, you did a great job.
I also initially thought of Christopher Lloyd as Thom, but I changed my mind to Sam Elliot after seeing how good of a fighting man he is. Your Padan Fain pick was decent, but I always saw him as Steve Buschemi. Love that guy! (Buschemi not Fain.)
It looks like you put a lot of thought into it and it's really well done.
March 13th, 2013, 12:32 PM #3
Wow. That's a lot of work. I always want to see every good book I've read turned into a movie. I imagine these things, but would so much rather be watching the story unfold. So I really hope something gets done like this. There has been talk of "Eye of the world" becoming the first movie for the WoT series for years and years now. Is there any new updates regarding that or a TV series?
March 13th, 2013, 05:35 PM #4
Thanks for your kind words. I admit that Sam Elliot LOOKS like a great Thom, but I just can't picture Thom with a Texas accent, and Elliot has never shown that he can speak in any other voice.
March 13th, 2013, 05:39 PM #5
To the best of my knowledge, it's still in development hell. The problem is, as I said, when the company that holds the rights first started planning to adapt this, the idea of bringing it to TV was considered ridiculous. After all, it was the big screen that fantasy was having its main success. But after GOT, I would seriously think that some exec somewhere is looking at the option and thinking "we could make this a series".