Welcome back to Casting Couch! After an extended break I’ve returned, and today I’m kicking off the new wave of Casting Couches with a look at Josh Williamson and Mike Henderson’s “Nailbiter,” from Image Comics. While many comics today get picked up and adapted left and right, “Nailbiter” is the type of book that seems like it would make for a perfect show; it has all the qualities we see in procedural programming, but with darker and more raw twists that bring a real sense of grit and intrigue to the book. It’s almost like a more straight-laced Twin Peaks, at least perhaps for Season 1, where there was darkness all around the edges but nothing overtly weird yet. And even with that show coming back, I think “Nailbiter” could make a mark for procedural programming on TV that most formulaic buddy-cop team-ups never can or will.
Additionally, before we begin: in the latest season of Casting Couch I’ll be pretty much sticking to creator-owned books. I’ve dipped my toes in the superhero conceptual waters before, but it’s often too hard to do much with. That said, if you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see done here on Casting Couch, please feel free to sound off in the comment section of what you would like to see.
With that out of the way, lets begin casting for “Nailbiter” as a TV series. As a note, those of you who have read the first arc will notice one character I’ve rather noticeably left out of the cast. That said, if you’ve read the first arc, you’ll probably understand why.
Edward Charles Warren – Alexander Skarsgård
Kicking things off with the Nailbiter himself, really the only person possible for Warren is Alexander Skarsgård. For years Skarsgård has played the same kind of suave creep that Warren essentially is; someone you wouldn’t want to be associated with because you know he’s bad news, yet there’s still something that draws you in. Warren is a monster, but the book shows us that there is something underneath that once could’ve been made into a good person (based on his relationship with Sheriff Crane). Skarsgård’s role as Eric Northman in True Blood plays up the bad-but-potentially-good archetype well, let alone his other performances in films like Melancholia or The East that show off what he can do in a more broad setting.
Nicholas Finch – Harry Lennix
To match Skarsgård we need someone that can bring an intense amount of stoic gravity to the role of Finch, and Harry Lennix is kind of perfect for that. An understated actor most known for Boyd Langton on Dollhouse or Harold Cooper on The Blacklist, Lennix already has that “veteran cop” angle to him that could play well with Finch, who is not retired but certainly greets us as someone very worn down from the grueling life on the job. Plus, while Finch in the book is somewhat younger than Lennix is, going older with the character allows us to create a nice dynamic between him and Skarsgård that the two could play off very well.
Eliot Carroll – Steve Zahn
Steve Zahn is perhaps one of the most underrated modern actors, if only because his body of work is so weird and varied. Zahn has appeared in movies and shows with performances that have been great (Rescue Dawn), and he’s appeared in movies we don’t really need to talk about all that much (the Ethan Hawke Hamlet comes to mind), but Zahn has a lot of potential — particularly in smaller, supporting roles, as much as that may sound like a denigration to his talents. He’s definitely an actor that is wonderful at picking up what others put down and feeding off of that, if not starring on his own. While in the book I think it’s somewhat implied that Carroll is older, I think Zahn and Lennix would have a great dynamic together in flashback sequences — and while Zahn’s role would admittedly be relegated to mostly flashbacks, having Zahn interact with Skarsgård as well would be amazing to watch.
Shannon Crane – Anna TorvContinued below
The primary centering element to the weird town of Buckaroo, whoever plays Crane needs to not just be a strong lead but also a dynamic and gripping one. While we’ve been lucky to have some great female leads on television in recent years, one actress who made a big impact on television and hasn’t really been featured prominently in a role since is Fringe‘s Anna Torv. Torv was great as the Olivia Dunhams, and throughout the show gave us an incredibly dynamic range — whether it was going between being passive and assertive to straight-up re-creating her character in other genres. I would love to see Torv in a regular stint again, and I think Crane would a great fit for her.
Alice Leigh – Jane Levy
Another actress who had a consistent recurring role on television who needs to come back is Jane Levy, former star of Suburgatory. While I can’t say that I was ever really a fan of Suburgatory, it shouldn’t be understated how good Jane Levy was on that show; whenever I’d tune in I found it rather remarkable how much she stood out from the rest of the cast in a really centered, dynamic way. Alice is one of the most important members of the cast in the book, especially after the final page of issue #6, and from the first time we meet her you know there’s something special about the character that will be explored in a very exciting and intriguing way. To me Levy is the perfect person for that role, and she could really bring to life everything Williamson and Henderson have done with her character so far.
Hank – Lucas Till
While there are two characters that fill the role of “bully/jock” in the book’s first arc (the other being his friend Robby), we’ll go with the more pronounced Hank for now. We first meet Hank as an instantly unlikable figure, and nothing he does in the first couple issues changes our opinion on that. That said, there is a sense of importance pronounced to Hank; while he is at first a paint-by-numbers character, we quickly learn that there is something more going on with him, something weird and dark. Lucas Till isn’t exactly a big actor, all things considered (I’d say he’s mostly known for playing Havok and Travis Brody at this point, which isn’t saying much), but between those two roles of “overly broody guy” and “overly sensitive guy” lies some talent that’s yet to have been given any real life. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hank in “Nailbiter” either, so it stands to reason to pick someone who could come back and do a decent job when necessary — and Till fits that bill nicely.
Raleigh Woods – Bruce Campbell
I’ll be honest: this was kind of an accident. I was thinking about casting and came across Bruce Campbell, and it just … fit. Not in every way; Campbell doesn’t particularly look like Raleigh does in the book (maybe a bit in the face, certainly not in the body), and I almost fear that in a horror series where there’s an eccentric guy running a horror memorabilia store, casting a guy like Bruce Campbell in the role is almost stunt-casting. And yet, when you start thinking about it, it really works; you can read Raleigh’s lines and hear Campbell’s voice fitting them perfectly. Look at Raleigh’s swagger and it’s easy to see exactly how Campbell could bring that to life in a boisterous and entertaining fashion. Campbell can be loud and funny, yet he can still be dark and mysterious; you’ll never be able to tell what you’re getting with Campbell in the same way that Raleigh is a bit of a mysterious unknown, and now I just can’t see or hear the character any other way.