One of the fiction sites I frequent has been swamped with casting calls for Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. I have learned that too much of this can be a very irritating thing. I have also learned that I’m a lot less interested in what other people’s characters should be cast like. So, I’m going to spend my time putting together a dream cast (pulled from across space and time) to lay out the fantasy dream cast of my Song of Lagrandil books. All I need now is an unlimited budget and a Tardis!
Lagrandil Dream Cast
Idris Elba as King Alfred Martel.
When you want a combination of physicality, gravitas, and command presence, it’s hard to think of a better leading man than Idris Elba.
Yes, I understand that the Martel people tend towards blond hair, but I have an infinite budget, remember? I can afford all the hair dye in the world.
I have seen Idris Elba dominate a room without moving, and throw down in action sequences. He’s the perfect Alfred Martel.
Gina Torrez as Olivia Martel
Olivia Martel is as dignified and powerful as her husband, and bad-ass without losing an ounce of femininity. It’s a tough job, being queen. Gina Torrez is one of the few actresses who could pull it all off. Substitute a recurved bow for a shotgun and this Firefly actress makes the list. She used to star in Xena, too, so she can do the swords-and-sorcery genre as well as any woman. I can see her nurturing someone in one hour and putting down collaborators from fifty yards away in the next.
CJ Ryler as Leif Martel
It takes a fair amount of energy to play comedy relief. Billy from the latest Power Rangers movie would be a pretty good gamble for a role involving strength, swordsmanship, but also emotional and relational vulnerability. He’s a little old to play a 16-year-old, but I have a Tardis in this setup, remember?
And hey, in the latest Power Rangers flick he already got used to wearing a suit of armor around. I wonder if that’s going to come in handy?
Alisha Boe as Helen Northstar
I had a harder time picking an actress to play Helen than almost any other member of the cast. Any actress who dyes her hair red and takes up the CGI hawk of Helen Northstar needs to be have the broadest range of any character in the villain’s list. She must be strong, intelligent, seductive, domineering, secretive, alluring, musical, and privately vulnerable by turns and in combination.
It’s hard to pick a young actress who has done a better job showing the complete gamut than Norweigan actress Alisha Boe.
Jaden Smith as Sven of Rushwater
Let’s face it, the boys’ main antagonist is charismatic, driven, and more than a little damaged. He is also charismatic enough to gather a following.
There just isn’t a better combination of natural talent and psychosocial instability than Jaden Smith. He fits the drama-action acting genre, and I think that the role of an easily-manipulated overcompensating young man with something to prove is, um… within his reach as an actor.
At the same time, Sven’ has his own underdog arc to complete, and Jaden has played a few sympathetic characters before.
Michael Jai White as Richard du Bois
In a cast full of powerful people full of charisma, who can top them all in serious demeanor, honorable nature, and a physically dominating aura? Michael Jai White would be the perfect choice for Richard du Bois, the deadliest warrior in The Martel Kingdom.
He’s large, powerful, a world-class martial artist, and I can totally see him stopping minor battles just by showing up. He carried a great blend of reserve and tenderness in Blood and Bone, which is exactly what you need to put Richard on screen.
Chadwick Boseman as Jefta the Gray
Without throwing out any spoilers, Jefta the Gray has to be as physically capable as Richard De Bois, but not just lighter in movement. He also has to be lighter in spirit. So who can match Michael Jai White in physical prowess but leave the audience (and reader) laughing just as easily? I would pick Chadwick Boseman in a heartbeat.
The world-famous wandering do-gooder character is just as noble as our fortress-dwelling Martel counterparts, but he has to carry an untamed, unpredictable aspect along with his gravitas. If you can’t play a king, play the sort of wandering meddler who makes kings nervous.
Rhenzy Feliz as Keith
Keith is young, strong, eager, and earnest. His quick thinking and dedication set him on a different path from the rest of his generation. For that sort of a role, I think that Rhenzy Feliz from Marvel’s The Runaways would be an ideal casting choice.
At twenty, Rhenzy is almost the exact age to play a young warrior in his first years in the world of men, without coming across as too weak or vulnerable. He has already shown most of the performance qualities I want for Keith in his current television role.
For those who believe that medieval life was full of professional body builders on steroids and wearing too much black leather, I will point out that Rhenzy is almost precisely the age and size of a young man reaching knighthood.
Taylor Lautner as Kenneth
So, who would you go to for a borderlands warrior who was strong enough to survive the destruction of his home and get back up to fight some more? This is probably my most controversial call but I would chose Taylor Lautner for Sir Kenneth. His martial arts background and athleticism fit well with the rest of the cast. Don’t worry, those of you who just had a surge of Twilight-PTSD. A medieval warrior wore at least three shirts at a time. There was a silken undershirt, a padded gambeson, and then armor over that.
I also like Lautner for his ethnic diversity. Dark without the deep color of the royal house, he would help me show the racial diversity of Lagrandil. It is natural to expect those living closer to other nations to have different features from the more insular capital city.
Lautner isn’t a kid any more, but neither is Kenneth. He’s just a lower-born warrior with a junior rank.
Tsuyoshi Ihara as Wolf
It’s hard to think of a better option for a tall, broad-shouldered Oriental warrior than Tsuyoshi Ihara. Western audiences will know him best for his role in 13 Assassins. I pick him for Wolf because of his gravitas, and because he had a mentoring theme in the movie. (He also did very well in Letters from Iwo Jima.) He is, ironically, a little old to play a quadricentarian warrior, but remember I get a Tardis. I can steal him from previous decades!
A little gray hair dye, some contacts, and he would do great. There is obviously going to be no problem in the martial arts and swordplay departments.
Candice Patton as Anya
Candice Patton would be great as Anya. Tardis, of course, because her character is romantically involved with a twenty-year-old, but that is small potatoes. Intelligent, with great stage presence, Candice could hold her own in a scene with the rest of the cast. She has years of experience in a supporting role, which is critical for the woman who is perhaps the embodiment of the compassionate courage of the Martel people.
I also like her for this role because she has held down the leading lady slot for years, proving that she can grow in character. Let’s just say that is important for this particular member of Team Lagrandil…
Taye Diggs as Duke Epee
Between protagonist and plotter, Duke Epee needs a character who is just as believable leading a battle on the front lines and plotting where to plant a dagger behind closed doors.
I’m going to go with Taye Diggs for this role, largely based off of his performance in Equilibrium. I particularly enjoy Taye’s ability to flip between emotions believably on screen.
Alexander Siddiq as High Priest Frenik
No swords-and-sorcery fantasy story is complete without a magic user. I like Alexander Siddiq for the head of the Priests of Ton. His smaller stature is a nice contrast with the raw physicality that carries through for the rest of the cast.
His recent stint as Ra’s al Ghoul in Gotham satisfies me that he can carry off malevolent power without physical intimidation, and that’s going to be critical for the keeper of magical secrets in the ancient fortress.
Won Bin as Noir the Spirit Walker
When you have a cast completely full of warrior types, you have to go above and beyond to make a noticeable ninja. Won Bin’s portrayal of Cha Tae-Sik in The Man from Nowhere cemented his agility and martial arts prowess in my head.
I am particularly fond of Won Bin’s portrayal of a terrifying warrior who is driven, and slightly damaged. It seems like a great fit. He can deliver a lot of character without a lot of dialogue, which works well for the apprentice assassin.
Aramis Knight as Hengist the Omdehsah
If you need a vulnerable kid to throw nearly naked into this pile of warriors with a mysterious past, it’s hard to find a better example than Enter the Badlands’ Aramis Knight. After all, as M. K. he has spent the past three years portraying a vulnerable kid thrown nearly naked into a pile of warriors, with a mysterious past.
Sure, it’s a trope, but it’s a trope that he owns. The character is sixteen, but appears significantly younger, so Aramis’s performance in the first season seems appropriate.
Of course, anyone familiar with fantasy tropes knows that the helpless slave is destined for power. Aramis has some practice at that, too.
So that is my take on a dream cast for The Slave of Tour Hote. Time does not permit me to fill in all the supporting roles from the later books in the series. Who would you cast as Jesse the Prophet, Prince Penda, Prince Thule, Sir Michael, the men of Tarsik, and all the rest? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below!