Casting the movie!

IwishI knew

I’m back because I couldn’t get this book out of my head. And as of now, I’ve had a couple beers, and am therefore taking this opportunity to be the casting director of Handbook for Mortals.

Zade: Early 20’s. Blonde hair dyed “a multitude of fun colors” and “perfectly cut bangs.” Pretty. Beautiful, even. Hourglass figure, but not too skinny: she does NOT have a thigh gap. Round face. 5’9″. T H I C C.

Basically, this: sarempink

But let’s be honest: Sarem is a 35-year-old woman who’s most notable role has been “Roxie” in “Trailer Park Shark.” No one in their right mind would cast a highly maligned unknown for a part in a controversial movie (unless it’s an independent art film, which, let’s be real, Handbook is not.)

No, we need a celebrity. Someone who can appeal to 20-somethings, someone who can believably portray someone around whom the world revolves, and has experience being in the middle of tedious love triangles. Someone exactly 5’9″, and slender, if not supermodel-skinny. She does NOT have a thigh gap.


For these reasons, Mischa Barton is perfect for the role. When was on The O.C, her character was a similar black hole with whom nearly every male characterwas obsessed. Furthermore, I think she could bring some darkness to Zade. She’s 31, yes, but I believe that this will allow her to also allow her to play Dela more believably, and unlike Sarem, she’s actually well known. Also, I think she could be convinced to act in Handbook, as she does plenty of smaller films these days.

Charles Spellman: As Jenny Trout pointed out, Charles is definitely based on David Copperfield:


He’s older, but still handsome, and radiates charisma. He has a thing for younger women, but we later find out that he is deeply emotionally damaged. Jenny Trout also noted Ty Burrell’s  resemblance to Copperfield. Now, this would make his an excellent candidate for the role, but I honestly think that there’s another man in Hollywood who fits the bill:


That’s right: Charlie Sheen.

Think about it. He’s been famous since the 80’s. If you think think David Copperfield is handsome, you might think Charlie Sheen is too. For all his problems, he is certainly charismatic (I think? I’ve only seen him in Wall Street). Charlie Sheen, who is 52, is dating a 26-year-old as of the writing of this post. He, like Charles Spellman, has had substance abuse issues, and I think he could really bring Spellman to life, and imbue him with some of the creepitude that makes the character even a little bit interesting.

Mac: Sandy-brownish hair, hazel eyes. At least 6 feet tall, if not more so. Muscular, but not too much. He’s intense, and hides his sensitivity with sarcasm.

Also, he’s supposed to be of an age with Thomas Ian Nichols, who is 37. Even though canonically he’s 29. So realistically he can be anywhere from 29-40.

With that in mind, I cast:


Joshua Jackson.

I’ve only seen Jackson’s work in Fringe, but that’s essentially the part he plays there. We also know that Lani Sarem loved him as Pacey in Dawson’s Creek (ThreeGeeks Interview, 17:29). And according to the Dawson’s Creek Wiki,   Mac’s characterization is also quite similar to Pacey’s.

Jackson: “Tall, dark, and Handsome.” Extraverted lady’s man, flirtatious and funny. Sings and plays guitar. Probably Zade’s age? Sparkly eyes.

Now, the obvious man for this part is Jackson Rathbone, as we are almost certain that this was who Sarem had in mind. But this cast looks awfully white, doesn’t it? Fortunately, I know an actor who has all of Jackson’s charm and charisma, is musically talented, and can make the ladies swoon with ease. This isn’t simply a diversity cast, though.

And for this one, I’m going to need to use video, because Vincent Rodriguez III is so perfect for this role.

(I finally learned how to embed youtube videos. Hooray! Also, go watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend right now because it is everything).

Now, I’m not sure if Charlie Sheen, who is an old, racist, sexist, awful white dude, would ever shape-shift into an Asian man, but there’s no way the incest sub-plot will be in the film, so that doesn’t matter.

Sofia: Sofia is “undeniably beautiful.” That’s pretty much all the physical description we get of her. She’s defensive and insecure, though, and opens up to Zade the minute Zade reaches out. She also has a beautiufl singing voice. For this role, we need someone who can play mean, but also vulnerable. I also get the feeling that she has dark hair, on account of Zade being blonde.

This one has honestly stumped me. My first instinct was Megan Fox, but I don’t know if she can sing. I thought about Demi Lovato, but I feel like Sofia’s meant to be quite short and stick thin (so that Zade’s tallness and relative curviness can be portrayed as superior).

But who’s an actress-turned-powerhouse-vocalist who’s incredibly petite, a sex symbol to thousands of men (despite her arguably childlike appearance), and is known for being a bit of a diva?


Ariana Grande. Now, I’m skepical as to whether she would sign on for this nothing movie, but these are reach goals.

Mel: Due to the ambiguous number of Mels, there has been some speculation that Scary Spice and Sporty Spice both work on the Charles Spellman Show. However, I’m pretty sure there’s only one Mel. Like Sofia, though, Mel’s only physical description is “hot.” And her only other characterization is that she’s a mean, sexually liberated woman.Also, as commenter DoveCG has pointed out,  it could be that the unnamed redheaded woman described in Chapter 2 is Mel, I’ll assume she’s a redhead. And so, I cast Bella Thorne as Mel


She’s known as something of a wild child, and has already played a mean girl role in The DUFF (a film that was also based on a really shitty novel).

Zeb: All we know of Zeb is that he’s about Charles’ age and has red hair, and that Zade thinks he’s sinister to the point that he even looks evil. Since Zeb is easily one of the most interesting characters I think it’s important that we get an actor who’s really compelling.

In short, I think that  Jackie Earle Haley is the man for this role. Just put him back into his Watchman outfit, and let him glower around the set as much as he wants:


He’s perfect.


I would say Philip Haldiman, the actor who played Denny in the Room:


But no. This is him now:


So I’m actually going to cast him as Drew. But also, I think we can probably just edit in clips of Denny circa 2003, because I don’t think there’s anyone better for the role.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight.

Oh, and obviously Thomas Ian Nichols plays Tad.

Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part Two: Something’s weird between Charles and Zade

Until act 3, Charles makes very few appearances. In this theory, Charles stops actively wanting to bang Zade as soon as he reconciles with Dela, and since there are only a few instances where Charles appears prior to his trip to Tennessee, there aren’t too many moments that show anything inappropriate between Charles and his daughter. But they are there (if you squint). While it’s possible to read all of this as simply a father and daughter reconnecting, that’s certainly not the only way to read it.

Continue reading “Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part Two: Something’s weird between Charles and Zade”

Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part One: Motive and Means

in Lani Sarem’s Handbook for Mortals, there’s something strange about Jackson: He’s the lead singer of a band that already has a lead singer. He doesn’t seem to be friends with the rest of the cast and crew—except for the mysterious Zeb. He is only ever seen in the same room with Charles once, and when Zade does a tarot reading on him, she gets the feeling that there’s something more about him they’re trying to tell her.

All of this can easily be explained if we assume that Jackson is actually Charles (or, on one occasion, Zeb) magically glamoured to look like Jackson Rathbone. It might sound crazy, but let’s take a look at the evidence.

This was originally going to be just one essay, but I think it’s too long for a single post. In this one, I talk about the reasons why Charles might want to dress up as Jackson to seduce Zade, and how he manages to do so.

Continue reading “Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part One: Motive and Means”

Handbook for Mortals: An Autopsy

You probably know that Lani Sarem’s novel  Handbook for Mortals is a total mess. The prose is repetitive, given to stream-of-consciousness tangents about seemingly meaningless details. There are numerous typos, comma splices, and a conspicuous fondness for em dashes. Point-of-view shifts mid-paragraph, only to revert a sentence later; Psychic powers are introduced and then vanish in the space of a single chapter. The love triangle that makes up the bulk of act 2 is utterly inconsequential, as is the magical duel in a mall parking lot. And there are hints strewn throughout that certain characters are not who they seem, but none of this is ever developed, leaving the reader to wonder if they hallucinated entire plot points.

Writing a book is hard, and writing a good one is harder. Most professionally published novels go through countless rounds of revision: anything superfluous is surgically removed, bits that don’t work are tweaked until they do, and, after dissecting every line of their work, the author has to stitch it all back together well enough that prospective readers don’t notice the scars.

My point here is that Handbook for Mortals died on the operating table, and I am here to figure out what even these quacks were trying to accomplish.

Which I guess makes me the coroner?

Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: An Autopsy”