After a short week break, Casting Couch has returned. Apologies for the delay. However, now that we’re back I see no reason to waste time with introductions, so I won’t.
Today on the Couch, we have Josh Williamson’s “Ghosted.” Essentially Ocean’s 11 if it were a horror film, the book puts a pretty dick-ish version of Danny Ocean inside a haunted mansion as he attempts to steal a crew with his particular band of misfits. But, since it’s a horror film, it does not really go well for most of those involved.
And to start things off, we cast our lead with:
Jackson Winters – Clive Owen
In recent years, Clive Owen’s star power has somewhat diminished has he’s gone from frequent action/drama star to the guy in the Three Olives Vodka billboards. Gone are the days of Children of Men, and currently he stars in films you probably didn’t see. (There is a theory I have, the Clive Owen Trenchcoat Theory, that if you put Clive Owen in a trenchcoat then you automatically have a good movie — and have you seen him wear one lately?)
But this isn’t to say that Owen isn’t a fantastic actor, and he could do with a revival. So what better way to bring him back to the spotlight than to throw him in a suit and tell to act like an asshole Danny Ocean? Owen has the swagger and is suave enough to pull it off, somehow managing to still be charming despite the character’s otherwise insufferable personality aspects. If anyone is supposed to represent the inverse of roles that Frank Sinatra and George Clooney defined, Clive Owen could certainly do the job.
Anderson Lake – Olga Kurylenko
Anderson is the femme fatale of the group, Markus’ woman on the scene and loyal hired muscle. What makes Anderson interesting, though, is that despite existing as a walking trope of sorts, she still ends up being never the less compelling — particularly in the second volume of the series when her character goes through a bit of a transformation. So with that in mind, Olga Kurylenko feels like a good fit to the character to both represent her more physically strong/badass qualities (having had starring roles in Quantum of Solace and Oblivion) yet still being talented enough as an actress to not just be a sexy lamp in the group. If anything, I’d argue that Kurylenko is more of a threat than Owen is, and I think that represents the dynamic between Jackson and Anderson perfectly.
Markus Schrecken – Christopher Plummer
Over the years, Christopher Plummer has defined many roles and made them unique, introspective and three-dimensional portrayals of complex people. Markus, on the other hand, is pretty much a villain’s villain, living in a mansion full of eccentric oddities and then asking people to steal ghosts for him. Markus on his own seems rather one-dimensional; he’s an evil old man with evil old plans. That’s why you need someone talented like Plummer to bring his particular brand of nuance and insight to the role, really straightening the character and his motivations out. Plummer could certainly play an otherwise evil character, but what Plummer can do better is exert a presence about him, a particular air if you will — one that immediately strikes fear and lets you know that this is not someone to mess around with.
Oliver King – Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright is perhaps one of the most underrated actors around, and every time I see him in a film I’m reminded how much I like him. Whether he’s the only modern recurring Bond character Felix Leiter, Dr. Rutledge in Source Code, “Dr. Watson” in Only Lovers Left Alive or Valentin Narcisse in the latest seasons of Boardwalk Empire, when Wright arrives it’s always great to see. And that’s why it’s so important that he plays Oliver King here, because given Oliver King’s role in the series (the resident skeptic, and a particularly notable event in the second volume) is so inherently vital that you need someone to realistically and believably play the one person who doesn’t buy into any of this.Continued below
Wright? He’s bought into all of it in other films. Now it’s time to see him act like it was nothing in this one.
Jay and Joe Burns – Adam Pally/Clifton Collins Jr.
Jay and Joe Burns are the resident Ghost Hunter bros of the group, somewhat playing off a recurring ‘bro’ archetype we’ve seen a lot in comics lately (particularly in “Hawkeye,” of course). In terms of their role in the greater scheme of things, though, they’re easily the comic relief of the group; everyone else has rather serious roles to play, but these two are of a different feather. As such, if you could round up Adam Pally and Clifton Collins Jr. to play the two, you’d end up with an interesting balance between the outright hilarious (think Pally’s Max from Happy Endings) and the straight man (think Collins’ Tendo Choi in Pacific Rim) for a pretty perfect storm of humor mixed in with all the horror.
Edzia Rusnak – Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Edzia is an interesting character, because she’s one of the few who the characters are never really aware of. Through some nice dramatic irony the readers are let into her mind a little bit more (at least as to whether or not she’s faking it about the whole seeing ghosts thing), but the rest of the group consistently undervalues her role there, essentially making her the staunch believer in a group of non-believers. That’s why Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be good in this role; it’s not that she’s underrated (people certainly love her because of Scott Pilgrim), but in her non-Flowers roles she’s often more unassuming characters, like Kate Hannah, the alcoholic pre-school teacher from Smashed. (If you ignore all the big-budget action films, I mean I don’t think we need to talk about A Good Day to Die Hard or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.)
Winstead can certainly bring a believable amount of duplicity to the performance, being someone that you want to trust because you know ghosts are real here but still find yourself unable to fully confide in. Winstead is also someone who has come up for nearly every Casting Couch for a while, so congrats, Mary: you finally made it!
Robby Trick – John Noble
For many, John Noble has become defined as Walter from Fringe, the supremely intelligent but incredibly goofy old man who literally causes every single problem on that show. However, when you take Noble out of that setting and look at his extended body of work, you’ll find that he regularly plays a wide variety of interesting characters (remember him as Denethor in Lord of the Rings?). So since Trick is pretty much Jackson’s most important companion, you need someone that can play off Clive Owen in a humorous way, but also someone who can (spoiler alert) later become possessed and go absolutely mental. If John Noble hasn’t proven that he’s the right man for that job with all the work he’s done so far, I don’t know what else to tell you.
Abigail – Michelle Dockery
The role of Abigail the ghost is perhaps the least sought after role for this film, but it’s never the less an important one. The main spectre that haunts the mansion that Jackson and his crew attempt to steal a ghost out of, Abigail is an ever-present figure in the narrative, albeit not an exceedingly important one until the end when her role is revealed a bit more. As such, I think it’s important to bring someone who is a bit graceful and elegant to the role, and Michelle Dockery (especially after Downton Abbey) certainly fits the bill for this particular character.