The Blue Cheer: A P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery:
If Tinsel Town ever has the impeccable taste (ha!) to make my latest novel, The Blue Cheer: A P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery:, into a film, I could see Mark Wahlberg playing the lead role of Private Investigator Frank Johnson. Mr. Wahlberg, born in 1971 and now 36, falls in about the same age range. They both have the same wiry build. Plus, Mr. Wahlberg snaring the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2006's The Departed (enjoyed seeing at the theater) can't hurt.
Since my PI books are written in first-person, I haven't devoted a lot of thought or included too much written description on Frank's physical appearance. Given all the jams he winds up in, and the rigors needed to extract himself, I'd say he's fairly young and athletic. If not, perhaps the director would hire a stunt double to film the action sequences.
On the other hand, Frank is something of a pulp novel buff. If using that as a guideline and dipping back in time, I'd tap Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly) or even further back, Dana Andrews (Laura). The only trouble is these three actors would need to speak with a Southern accent, but then that's why they're actors (and I'm not).
Frank's pal and sometimes employer, billionaire-lawyer Robert Gatlin is depicted as a husky man who relishes being in the public eye. Gatlin's brusque mannerisms and quick wits might translate well to a younger Fred Thompson (Law & Order). Besides an actor, Mr. Thompson is also a lawyer. His pivotal question from the Watergate hearings -- “Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?" -- rings like a Gatlin courtroom line. However, Mr. Thompson's latest political aspirations might tie him up for four years (or maybe more).
Frank's other friend, bail-bond enforcer (i.e., bounty hunter) Gerald Peyton, is a tougher call to make. Gerald, an African-American, is large, brawny, and a little rough around the edges. Perhaps Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile), another Oscar best supporting actor nominee and an ex-bouncer/bodyguard, would be casted for the role. If we could stretch this casting across time, I'd argue for football running back/actor Jim Brown (circa 1967's The Dirty Dozen) to play the Gerald character.
Of course no PI movie can be complete without a romance interest for our detective-hero. I'd think the casting director would search for an intelligent, attractive, and tough-minded actress. Kelly McGillis (Witness, The Accused) comes to mind.
Putting together these disparate parts to make an ensemble cast is a like playing Fantasy Football. You'd want them to mix just so and develop the beautiful chemistry to deliver a classic performance. You know, a cult flick that sticks in the mind of viewers, luring them back to watch repeatedly. That, to me, is the best sort of movie to make ofThe Blue Cheer: A P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery.
Reprinted from Marshal Zeringue's web blog MY BOOK, THE MOVIE.