Welcome back to Casting Couch, your favorite column for the fictional fan casting of potential comic book adaptations! And today we’ll be taking a look at perennial Multiversity favorite, Terry Moore’s “Rachel Rising.” Moore is perhaps one of the best voices in comics, having given us the incredible “Strangers in Paradise”, and his work in “Rachel” has been creepy and unnerving, at times completely skin-crawling. And the recent first arc finale? Wow.
“Rachel Rising” is a book that seems like it would make an amazing series in another media, specifically on television (those first 24 issues could make a wonder season, or mini-series). And so without further ado, let the casting begin!
Rachel – Taylor Schilling
I had my reservations about Orange is the New Black at first, but upon sitting down and watching it over a few evenings I was hooked. It took me completely by surprise in how engaging it was, and a large part of that is Taylor Schilling’s career-defining role in it. As such, I’ve wanted to see her appear in more things, in more challenging roles, and I think the eponymous character here would be a really great opportunity for Schilling to display her talent. And while Piper Chapman and Rachel do not have a lot in common at first glance, I think there is a good deal of similarities between the archetypes that each woman embodies to the point that Schilling could easily make for a great Rachel.
Jet – Emmy Rossum
For the role of Jet, I felt it was important more to focus on who would be a good counter-part to Rachel. And with Schilling taking the lead role, I thought that the consistently underrated Emmy Rossum could easily fill in the shoes of her best friend in the series. Rossum’s acting career starting point differs depending on what kind of a fan you are (there’s Phantom and Shameless to consider, really), but Rossum has shown that she’s capable of an incredibly wide range — and her role in Shameless in particular has shown the depth at which she can access and bring a character like Fiona to life. I think she could easily bring that same level of depth and consideration and blood, sweat and tears to a seemingly more light-hearted character like Jet, while still delivering an unforgettable performance in the role.
Zoe – Bailee Madison
Zoe was one of the more tough characters to cast, especially given how important she is to the overall narrative. It’s a minor role at first, but Zoe very quickly became one of the most important characters to watch in the book. But while it was tough, I think casting Bailee Madison is a pretty obvious choice, if only because of her role in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Dark is a rather underrated horror film of the past few years, and Madison was right at the center of it, delivering a rather memorable performance at of 10. Now she’s 15 and has had more experience, and I think that she’s a perfect fit for a character like Zoe.
Johnny – Annette Bening
Johnny is one of the unforgettable characters in this series, pretty much a trademark Moore-type character. She’s incredibly level-headed and unique to the cast, as she pretty much offers the central grounding throughout the book — even if her current existence is a bit in flux. So for a role like Johnny we obviously need someone extremely talented who can offer a strong balance to the overall cast and I feel that someone as talented as Annette Bening is a good choice to be that dose of reality that we need. Bening is an incredibly talented actress, offering a great mix of humor and heart to her various roles (American Beauty, anyone?), and I’d be happy to cast her in just about anything.
Earl – John Carroll Lynch
This may at first seem like a bit of typecasting. Looking at the pictures of each character, it’s easy to see how Lynch could be Earl with a pair of glasses. But while John Carroll Lynch very much fits the physical look of the character of Earl, I think it’s important to note how accomplished he is, and the amount of roles that he has played over the years. In fact, he played what you could call the most important role in Zodiac, and he did it with a great amount of subtlety. Earl is no Arthur Allan, but Lynch could really bring this character to life in unexpected ways.Continued below
Doc Siemen – Richard Jenkins
The Doc is a tricky character, because I’ll relent: when we first met him, I expected him to be something quite sinister. Yet over time, he seems a little bit more genuine while still maintaining that murkiness; you’re never fully sure if he wants to help, or if he wants to learn more about what has happened to Rachel. So for him, I think we need someone that has been known to do a mix of a great protagonist and antagonist, someone who can be that blurred line — and for that you really have to look no further than Richard Jenkins. Jenkins is great at being someone you root or sympathize with, but he’s also someone who knows how to be menacing or foreboding if the role calls for it. I think that could make for a really interesting take on Doc Siemen, especially when placed against the other actors picked in this scenario.
Malus – Richard Armitage
Ah, yes. The devil. I’m a big fan of Armitage, especially for his frequent scene stealing role in the Hobbit, and because of this I’ve gone over his filmography and found that, generally speaking, there’s nothing that Armitage can’t play 100% convincingly. Armitage has done a wide variety of roles over the years, but he always plays his characters with a great amount of conviction; whatever the character believes, you really feel that Armitage believes as well. So to give him the role of Malus, I think you have an interesting opportunity to get a genuinely different kind of devil onscreen. We live in a world of satanic archetypes when it comes to demons, but Armitage could do something different — something where there’s just enough in the character that maybe, just maybe, you might believe he’s not really the worst thing out there.
Lilith – Hayley Atwell
Our ultimate villain, at least for the first arc, Lilith is a very complicated character. She’s not necessarily bad, yet she is; you can buy into her belief system a little bit, but you never quite forget that she’s a witch. So we need someone capable of being convincingly likable yet at the same time walk that line of death and destruction — and I promise I mean this as a compliment when I say Hayley Atwell is perfect for the role. Atwell is basically a cinematic darling, especially with her performance as Agent Carter in the Marvel movies, but when you see her elsewhere (like Black Mirror, for example) she still remains unforgettable. Atwell has a very commanding presence in her films, and it’s pretty easy to see her take to the screen as an all-powerful witch that we can’t help but fall under the heels of. It’d be a role unlike anything she’s really done before, but she’d be perfect at it.