"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yet ANOTHER "He Who Must NOT Be Named" (Updated)

For author F. Paul Wilson, that would probably be director Michael Mann.

In 1981, Wilson published his first novel, "The Keep", set in the Carpathians during WWII, at first glance apparently about vampires but ultimately about much older evil ("Forget every religion you ever knew") instead.

In 1983, Mann released his movie version, horribly mangling the story.

How in Hell can one screw up with a cast populated by Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne, J├╝rgen Prochnow (the skipper in "Das Boot") and IAN MCKELLAN (Gandalf and Magneto)?!!!  Suffice it to say he managed.

He even managed to take one of the things I liked best about it (the film score by Tangerine Dream) and get it tied up in a copyrights battle that continues to this day, making it impossible to find a complete edition. I had such a copy for awhile, on a DVD put together by a Brit fan years ago, but like many home-brewed DVDs, it soon ceased to play. You can probably still find bootleg editions on the internet (I have some of those) but they are NOT complete, missing (naturally) some of the passages I liked best.

Such is the perversity of the Universe.

Mr. Wilson had some revenge on Mann in his short story "Cuts".  As my blog doesn't have as big an audience as Wilson does, I'll probably be better off just moving on.

All that above is a digression, as the post title actually refers to not speaking aloud the name of someone whose attention you could really do without.

In one recent popular novel series, it was just a superstition until followers of the evil one (reasoning that only his opponents would dare to speak the name) put the equivalent of a lo-jack on it so such utterance would bring them down upon you.

In the tradition of "speak of the Devil and he'll appear", Mr. Wilson's Adversary is apparently cursed with having to take notice when his True Name is spoken and probably cannot just tune it out. I now understand why he whom I'll refer to as "R" plays around with anagrams of his name so much;  he has to deal with others now and then. If he's busy with something that interests him (as you almost certainly do not), and you somehow manage to speak his True Name, you distract him and he might visit you while very pissed.

To paraphrase the description of another character of legend, "You wont like him when he's pissed."

Wilson's second novel, "The Tomb" (1984) introduced us to Jack (Repairman Jack), who fixes situations that other people cannot.  A court of last resort (a bit like John D. McDonald's Travis McGee, but this is no copy of him), Jack mostly relies on cunning and tries to con the ones he's taking on. But, as with McGee, sometimes the one he's taking on is very bad news indeed and stronger measures become necessary.

The series evolves into a universe of opposing light and dark forces (not necessarily good vs evil; while the force of darkness (the Otherness) is inimical to all forms of life as we know it, the force of light (ironically called the Ally) only cares about our world because it lies within its domain. The best one can hope from Him/It/Whatever would be benign neglect. Indeed, neglect best describes the Ally's attitude to R's machinations here to bring the Otherness upon us.)

So, poor old all-too-human Jack gets more and more involved in this struggle;  apparently fated to do so ("No more coincidences in your life").

Repairman Jack has been opted as a movie series, since about 1995 as far as I can work out from the Official Repairman Jack Website (an entry for May, 2010 mentions, "We're up to 15 years of sound and fury ultimately signifying bupkis."), but has (so far) been unable to survive attempts to create a usable script that successfully depicts some of the creatures involved.

If Mr. Wilson ever gets at a loss for something to write, he could probably create a "Development Hell" series about the attempt to bring a novel (or series) to the screen.

As this is only daydreaming now, I'm going to give a shot at casting the most important character of this series (next to Jack).

The first time R turned up in Jack's series ("Conspiracies"), using the anagram Sal Roma, I saw him as ...
(From oxfordinklings.blogspot.com)

... Polish actor Vladek Sheybal, who played chess-master/planner Kronsteen in "From Russia With Love", and many, many other villains in the 60's though the 80's.

But, as he passed away in 1992, another candidate was needed.  My choice was (and still remains) ...
(From battlestar.helios.com)

... Jamie Callis, aka Gaius Baltar on the rebooted "Battlestar Galactica".

But if you'd rather have someone a bit more recent, let me suggest ...
(From nun-gun.tumblir.com)

... Tom Hiddleston (Loki, from "Thor" and "The Avengers".)

Any of them would be formidable, and still qualify for Jack's description (in "Harbingers") when, after disclosing that he had met R, was asked, "What's he like?" ...

"Just a guy. He doesn't wear a cape or have a vulture sitting on his shoulder. Pass him on the street and you'd never give him a second thought. Just an ordinary, everyday guy ... until you look in his eyes and he lets you see what's going on in---"

From that second line, I can't help wondering if Mr. Wilson is a "Cowboy Bebop" fan and familiar with Spike's former compatriot and now arch-enemy Vicious ...
(From cowboybebop.wikia.com)

If you've never read any of F. Paul Wilson's books, I highly recommend that you correct that deficiency as soon as possible, starting with "The Keep".

The titles below are the books of the Adversary (A) and Repairman Jack (RJ) series. There are other books that connect, and scattered short stories, but these are the main ones. The list below is not in published order, but in the story's chronological order...


That list is gleaned from THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WORLD  (from F. Paul Wilson's official site).

Enjoy :-)

Update 1130 AM CDT, Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 - More than a few commentors (to F. Paul Wilson's gracious linking to my post) have expressed liking for my casting of "R", but have also asked, "Ok, Paul. But, who would you pick for Jack?"

In my search, I stumbled across another possibility for R ...
(From bestof.provocateuse.com)

... Danish Actor Mads Mikkelsen, whom I first saw in the Daniel Craig James Bond movie "Casino Royale", as the guy who wept blood and gave our hero a very rough time. He's now scheduled to be Hannibal Lecter in a new TV series about Hannibal's earlier days.

With that out of the way, some thoughts on Jack ...

Casting him is more difficult than it might appear, because of the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of him.

I don't see him as a pretty boy. He works at being average in appearance and manner, much like Brian Freemantle's Brit spy Charlie Muffin, blending into a crowd so completely that you could take your eyes off of him for a second, look back, and never find him again.

Jack and Charlie have quite a few similarities; both just love to be underestimated and work hard at that. Wrong them and you will truly regret it.

Charlie once described himself as capable of being "one vindictive son of a bitch".  Jack is not so cold-blooded and calculating about it; he's more mercurial, and can shrug off a slight and get over it.

BUT, if you do anything (by design or stupidity) to become a danger to anyone he cares about, that's a whole 'nother story. You are making a milkshake with nitroglycerin and you may not like the result.

So, who to pick?

For a long time, on this project, Ryan Reynolds ...
(From filmequals.com)

... was under consideration (and negotiation). Mr. Wilson liked him (still does as far as I know) and I certainly have no problem there.

One of those commentors I mentioned above suggested Edward Norton ...
 (From adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot)

... another extremely fine actor, very capable of pulling this off, but Mr. Wilson feels that he is a control freak and would try to make it his movie.

I did see commentor Rebecca's suggestion of Christopher Gorham (currently in TV's "Covert Affairs" and whom I remember as Henry in "Ugly Betty") but I just don't see the Hyde part of Jack's nature there.

The eyes should have it ...
I considered Brad Pitt and Chris Pine (the new Captain Kirk in the "Star Trek" movie of a few years ago) but finally decided I wanted someone a bit droopier.

Not too pretty, having a goofy charm around Gia and Vicky, but whose eyes, if aroused by you becoming a threat to either of them, could give you a look that would loosen your bowels and make you want to run for your life.

To meet that last criteria, I hereby submit ...
(From thefancarpet.com)

(From porhomme.com)

... Jeremy Renner, whom I first saw in a very short-lived TV series, "The Unusuals", and who subsequently went on to bigger things in "The Hurt Locker", "The Town", "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and became Clint Barton/Hawkeye in "The Avengers" (he cameoed the same role in "Thor" before).

Although, at 41 he's maybe six or seven years older than Jack should be, I'd think what Jack's been through has probably aged him a bit; wouldn't you? :-)

My not-so-humble opinion is that Renner would be perfect for it. Biggest problem I see is that he's on the verge of super-stardom and may simply be unaffordable if this project ever happens.

(But, HEY! We're still dreaming here. Right? :-)


Anonymous said...

Have read all of F. Paul Wilson's books and they are fantastic.

LScott said...

Both of your choices would be just fine with me. I can see either as "R". I'm curious as to who you would cast as Jack?


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