If I was to be so lucky as to be provided with an option for the Crisin Guest books to be made into a television series, who would I cast in the various roles?
When I was developing the books, I wrote biographies of the characters and included images, and usually those images came from movie stars and models, just so I could fix their faces, expressions, and voice in my head, though I have to say that they have evolved over the years as I got to know my characters better.
But if I could have my dream casting, we'd get some mighty interesting actors to play those roles. The problem is, the ones I had in mind originally are aging out of these roles. That's because I began devising this series way back in 2005. But let's take a look.
There is a stable of reoccurring characters and and I'd like to start with them.
Lenny is a thief and a very disreputable character indeed. He has very little in the way of redeeming qualities but on occasion and for a price, he helps out Crispin do a little spying. The actor here is David Bradley, who played the caretaker Argus Filch in the Harry Potter series.
Chaucer is an old friend of Crispin's from his better days in John of Gaunt's household. Poet, knight, comptroller for the ports, and sometimes spy for the king, Chaucer is an ambitious man, and not above a little double-dealing. He was hard one to cast because--having illustrations of him--I didn't want to go too handsome. I think of him as somewhat foppish. So far he has appeared in two books: TROUBLED BONES and BLOOD LANCE. In the end, Damien Lewis seemed a good fit.
JOHN OF GAUNT, THE DUKE OF LANCASTER
A father figure to Crispin, though he was only ten years older, as was Chaucer, Gaunt is everything to Crispin. Imagine the hurt when Crispin realized how much he had been betrayed? Gaunt is regal, polished, powerful. I think Clive Owen has the stature and presence needed to be the larger-than-life duke of Lancaster.
John Rykener first appeared in THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT as a male prostitute who liked to dress as a woman and even served as an embroideress. He will make an appearance again in the next two Crispin books THE SILENCE OF STONES and A MAIDEN WEEPING. I think of him as a congenial fellow and an early friend to Crispin when he was first cast upon the streets of London, knowing little how to make his way. John is sexy and sweet and full of heart. For him, I think of Tom Hiddleston.
Crispin's brow-beatend landlord, the tinker Martin Kemp is Crispin's ally, at least against his own shrewish wife Alice. He means well, but there's usually little he can do under the onslaught of his wife's sharp tongue. It's a comedic role, to be sure, and Simon Pegg seems the perfect guy for it.
There is little good to say about Alice. She is protective of her daughter Margaret and always concerned with finances, such as making sure their recalcitrant tenant, Crispin Guest, pays his rent, but that's about it. Rebel Wilson is far too attractive, but with some proper make-up the transition could work. She could play her own daughter, too!
I got a lot of my imagery for actors from the Harry Potter series of films. Of course I did, because just about every British actor and actress appeared in them! The congenial and no-nonsense tavern keeper Eleanor has always been in my mind Mrs. Molly Weesly herself, Julie Walters. She is a sort of mother figure to Crispin and cares a great deal about him, even though they are as far apart as could be in social standing.
Likewise, I have always seen Gilbert--the understanding tavern keeper and husband to Eleanor Langton--as actor Mark Addy. He often gives Crispin sage advice while supporting his bar tab. He and Eleanor are truly Crispin's best friends.
Crispin was one of Henry's overseers when young Henry was a child. The oldest legitimate son of John of Gaunt, Henry was born into privilege. He's about the same age as his cousin King Richard II. And though they got along as children, their adult selves didn't get along so well. After all, it is Henry who eventually usurps the throne from Richard to become King Henry IV. But Crispin clearly adores him before those difficult times looming ahead. Owen Young can play the youthful and stubborn young Henry.
KING RICHARD II
Richard is young, not yet in his majority when we start the Crispin series. Seventeen, in fact, but he is already the man he will grow to be; stubborn, unruly, and devout in his assertion that he is the anointed of God to be king, and so he knows best, even though he has favorites in court that the other nobles do not like and do not think should be in the positions of power they now possess. Shakespeare's play Richard II captures all the problems of this young monarch and I have seen no one play him better than Ben Whishaw in the Hollow Crown series. If you want to know anything about Richard, watch his nuanced and spot on performance.
Philippa Walcote appeared in VEIL OF LIES as a love interest of Crispin's but she will return in future books. That would be a spoiler to say in what way, but suffice it to say, it will be in an interesting way. I see Romola Garai, sensual but vulnerable.
Jack Tucker is Crispin's right hand man. He's eleven years old when he first encounters Crispin and worms his way into a grumpy Crispin's life as his servant at first and later, once he has proven himself, as his apprentice. Jack is a tough one to cast because they keep aging out! If they'd produce the series already we wouldn't have these problems. Jack grows up as the series progresses, starting out as a child and cutpurse and growing into a reliable young man. When I first cast Jack in my head all those years ago, it was a young Rupert Grint from the first Harry Potter film. But now it's the kid who plays Ron Weasley's son in the last movie, Ryan Turner. And then probably HIS kid while we wait for the magic to happen.
And finally, the man himself, the Tracker, the disgraced knight Crispin Guest. As far as I am concerned, it's always been Hugh Jackman in my mind for the grumpy, stoic, and always honorable Crispin. But as the years go on, everyone's getting a little older. Crispin is thirty, after all, when we start the books, though it's a hard thirty. But who knows?
How would YOU cast it? Do you agree or disagree with my choices?