Once again I’m trying to use the motivation of National Novel Writing Month to complete already-existing projects. Like my mystery-thriller AMBERGRIN HALL. (Which title sounds far more “gothic” than the book really is…)
The “elevator pitch” for AMBERGRIN HALL goes like this:
When his girlfriend dies in a freak accident, Garrett Anderson is left with her uncompleted play manuscript and a lot of questions about the hidden history of Croton College. When someone makes repeated attempts to steal the manuscript, will finding the thief also answer all of Garrett’s questions and enable him to put the ghost of Lisette behind him?
So it’s a mystery-thriller with a bunch of action and a hint of the supernatural and just a bit of singing, too. Most of the main characters have some connection to the college’s theater department, and there’s a Christmas scene that involves music. Not that I have any idea if most of the actors I mention below can actually sing.
Not long ago, an artist friend of mine who has read part of the manuscript asked for visual reference on the characters because he wanted to do some sketches. That got me thinking about who I would cast in a movie version of the book, if money were no object and I had final say. This is who I’ve come up with.
Jeremy Sumpter as Garrett Anderson. Garrett is a lacrosse player, a solid student, and also plays the mandolin and does a great rendition of The Clancy Brothers’ “Bauladh Bos” (Jingle Bells). Garrett’s struggling back from a dark place after Lisette’s accidental death. Is someone really attempting to steal Lisette’s incomplete manuscript, or is Garrett’s grief making him just a touch paranoid? Jeremy is probably still best known for portraying Peter Pan, but he’s not that little boy anymore. He’s got the build and I think the chops to bring Garrett to life.
Curt Mega as Ezra Sferra. Ezra is Garrett’s best friend and room-mate since freshman year. Ezra is gay, goofy, upbeat, the ultimate sidekick. But he’s also deeper than that. His new relationship causes problems that sidetrack Garrett from seeing what’s really going on. When things start to come to a head, will Ezra’s loyalty to Garrett and Lisette be impaired by his new love for Dylan? Curt Mega, “Nick the Warbler” on Glee, can definitely sing and be the goofy-sweet scene-stealer, and I think given the chance he could pull off the tough decision Ezra needs to make near the book’s end.
Daryl Sabara as Paddy Hamer. Garrett’s other best friend has a family history that is tied to the college’s, which puts Paddy in an awkward place when it comes to what Lisette’s play has to say about the school’s dark past. Does he know more than he’s letting on about why someone wants that manuscript and about how Lisette died? The fact that Paddy and Ezra have never liked each other is another complication for Garrett to navigate throughout the book. Daryl may be best known for the Spy Kids movies, but like Jeremy, he’s not that little kid anymore. He’s got the right look and glower to be Paddy.
Alexandra Daddario as Lisette D’Alayne. Yes, Lisette is dead before the book even starts. But there are flashbacks, and Lisette’s personality needs to be felt throughout the movie. She was (before death) a caring, talented, whirlwind personality. There’s a reason people miss her. I think Alexandra is the way to go on this one. She’s pretty, she can do action scenes (as seen in Percy Jackson and the Olympians) and I think she can bring Lisette’s personality across.
Calum Worthy as Dylan Smith. Dylan is a shy but funny freshman, in a budding relationship with Ezra. Dylan’s the kid who will let everyone turn him into a snowman outside the theater just because it’s funny. But as things get more dangerous, will Dylan’s presence and innocence hinder Garrett’s attempts to learn what’s going on? Calum did a great job several years ago as Garth Ranzz on Smallville, and the previews I’ve seen for his new Disney show Ally & AJ show he’s got the comedic timing Dylan needs.
Jennette McCurdyas Jeri Hawes. Jeri is a freshman girl with a crush on Garrett and a scholarship thanks to being a “college legacy,” although no-one seems to know exactly how she’s connected to the school. She might be a very talented theater student, but she’s often too intoxicated to be on her best behavior. Jeri’s first scene is very slapstick, which I know iCarly‘s Jennette can do, but it would be fun to see her handle the darker scenes.
Shannon Woodward as Danielle Renier. Danielle is Lisette’s best friend. The flashbacks show how strong their friendship was and while she doesn’t play a large role in the main plot, she is a part of Garrett’s emotional support system after Lisette’s death. She’s a reliable friend who handles her own grief and helps Garrett with his, and is someone outside the intrigue. On Raising Hope, Shannon shows she can be more than just funny, and she looks the part.
Colin Morgan as Thaniel Corcoran. Thaniel is a transfer student who takes the empty room in Garrett and Ezra’s dorm suite. He’s taken several years off from school for family problems so he’s a bit older than the rest of the students. He and Garrett immediately hit it off. As things progress, Thaniel’s slightly older perspective helps Garrett sort out what’s going on. Thaniel is also blind. I think Merlin‘s Colin Morgan can pull that off.
There are a few other characters to be cast: Professor Quentin, the head of the theater department, and Dean D’Oro, who is Garrett’s boss but also is heading the committee looking into Lisette’s accident. But WordPress is telling me I’m out of room so I’ll end this here. Would love to see people’s reactions to this cast.