Invariably in discussions on Skype, email or in person, folks will ask me if I ever think there will be a Dillon movie (I can only hope…poppa needs a new pair of everything) and I’ll be asked who I think should play Dillon and the various characters in the books. So why not indulge our inner casting directors and play the Casting Call Game?
To start with, way back when Dillon was first showing up in monthly installments in the gone-but-not-forgotten FRONTIER days, my good buddy Russ Anderson made a suggestion for this good lookin’ cat to play Dillon in a movie:
Back in the day I was a regular watcher of “NYPD Blue” and when Henry Simmons joined the cast I was impressed with his on-screen presence, his voice, his physicality and I thought he’d make a perfect Dillon:
But here’s the guy who a lot of people tell me they see as Dillon:
And recently I’ve found a new contender for the role. I’ve been enjoying him immensely in his role as John Diggle, the partner of Oliver Queen/The Vigilante/The Hood on ARROW. David Ramsey certainly has the physicality and acting chops. Doesn’t hurt that he’s also an accomplished martial artist with a black belt in jeet kune do and he’s studied kickboxing.
And recently another name has been thrown into the hat as a possibility to play my boy. I’m not familiar with Chadwick Boseman but friends of mine whose opinion I trust have said he’s a good candidate and after looking at a couple of pictures of him, I’m inclined to agree.
And now we move onto the two most important people in Dillon’s life: his parents.
So far the information we have on them is incomplete. We do know that his mother Pamela was an accomplished martial artist having been trained herself by the same Warmasters of Liguria who trained Dillon. How she found her way to Shamballah in the first place is a story that has yet to be told. As is how she lost her eye. She died while getting Dillon to Shamballah. A death that Dillon himself witnessed.
Dillon has himself described his father as a genius. So far all we know of him is that his name is Bancroft and apparently he was the leader of an isolated community called Usimi Dero that blended advanced technology and art. Usimi Dero was destroyed by a being known as Thahali, She Who Wears The Dress of Seven Sufferings. Presumably Bancroft died in the destruction of Usimi Dero, sacrificing himself so as to give his wife and son time to get away. Exactly who or what Thahali is, Dillon has yet to discover. So who do I see as playing Dillon’s parents? Well, given that Blaxploitation movies heavily influenced the creation of Dillon I think the choices of actors to play his parents is obvious:
I have had suggestions that Idris Elba could play Dillon’s dad while Salli Richardson would make a more than acceptable Pamela:
He shows up near the end of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN to lend a hand but he’s in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL from start to finish, backing up his partner with his wisdom, common sense, experience and plain ol’ cussedness. He’s Dillon’s mentor and best friend Elias Patrick Creed and there’s only one face and voice I see and hear when writing Eli’s scenes:
But there’s a lot of folks who tell me that they think this guy would just as good if not a better Eli Creed:
Lady Thelma Sharpe is the one who sets off the events of DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN in a lot of ways. And she continues to stir the soup by actively participating in the hunt for Dillon through a good part of the book as well as making a last ditch attempt to kill him after everybody has long forgotten about her and think the adventure is over. Who do I see as Lady Thelma?
Why Carol Burnett? Even though she’s deadly serious in her efforts to kill Dillon, there’s a lot of comedic elements to her, fueled by her Olympian consumption of alcohol. I’ve seen Miss Burnett play mean drunks and that’s the very definition of Lady Thelma.
Alistair Frayne is a mercenary hired by Lady Thelma Sharpe to track down Dillon and recover the black opal ring that everybody and their mother is hunting for in DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN. Frayne is refined, cultured and ruthless in his job. And here’s who I think would do a good job playing this character:
Why Jude Law? Because he’s just as good playing a bad guy as he is at playing a good guy. He just doesn’t get enough of chance to do so.
She starts out as Lady Thelma’s trusted personal assistant but quickly gets caught up in the whirlwind of action at Dillon’s side as he avoids the hired assassins of her boss. She’s an unwilling ally for most of the story until her eyes are finally opened as to the hideous danger of The Voice of Odin. She’s Kris Quinlan and here’s who I think would be a good choice for the role:
Why Malin Akerman? Because I think she’s a far better actress than she gets credit for. And judging just from “Watchmen” she’s not afraid of throwing herself into the physical stuff.
Frederick Whalen aka ‘The Whale’ is Lady Thelma’s trusted bodyguard. Abandoned by his parents, even as a boy he possessed freakish strength. Lady Thelma took the boy with her to London and saw to it that he was educated in the finest schools and taught a wide range of martial arts. A formidable combination of brains and brawn, Frederick Whalen earns a place as one of Dillon’s most dangerous enemies. And the guy I see playing The Whale is a no-brainer:
At 6′ 9″ and 300 pounds, Tyler Mane most certainly has the physical qualifications for the part. And as he’s proven in movies such as X-MEN, the two Rob Zombie directed HALLOWEEN movies and TROY he can certainly project an imposing menace on screen.
John Velvet is the Director of the American Intelligence Machine aka A.I.M. or The Machine. As such, his position is one of tremendous power and influence. It’s also a position that puts him in opposition with Dillon whenever they run into each other as they often do. My pick for the guy:
Why Ray Stevenson? I just like the guy. And I don’t think he gets enough roles where he gets to wear cool tailored suits.
A powerful and influential administrator in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Gregory Tipp spends a great deal of time in DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN chasing Dillon all over the English countryside, always just one step behind his elusive quarry. My pick for the dogged Mr. Tipp:
Why Ben Cross? He always seems to play characters with determination and no sense of humor whatsoever. Qualities Gregory Tipp possesses in abundance.
Chew Mi is the deadly right-hand of mad scientist Dr. Numby. She oversees the security of his castle fortress with a cadre of professional soldiers and cyborgs at her beck and call. She also loves to dress up in garish military uniforms, prompting Dillon to remark that she looks like a “G.I. Joe” character. Who do I see as Chew Mi?
I’ve liked Maggie Q ever since I saw her in “Live Free or Die Hard” and she impressed me so much that I think she should have been the main bad guy in that movie.
However, my good friend Perry Constantine says that he always visualizes Ziyi Zhang when he reads DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN and I can see why:
Dr. Aristotle Numby figures into DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN when he captures Dillon with the intention of collecting the sizable bounty that has been placed on his head by Odin. Dr. Numby is engaged in research involving genetics and bionics and could use the $10 million he’d get for turning Dillon over to Odin. And who do I see as Dr. Numby?
Who else but everybody’s favorite Mad Scientist, FRINGE’s John Noble?
Colonel Thompson is the ramrod of the British Intelligence Tactical Elite or B.I.T.E. as they prefer to be called. They spend a good amount of time in VOICE OF ODIN hunting down Dillon and they assault Dr. Numby’s castle fortress to do so. Who’s the face I see for this character?
Why Paul Bettany? I don’t think he gets enough action roles. As Colonel Thompson he’d see more than his share.
Dr. Yolanda Merrydew looks like a cheerleader but is actually an expert in electronic interrogation and the creator of The White Room, a sophisticated device for dissecting and examining a subject’s memories. In DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN Dr. Merrydew uses this device on Dillon and in the process gives Gregory Tipp some intriguing information on Dillon’s background. And who do I think would be a good choice for the good doctor?
Why Jasika Nicole? If you’re a fan of “Fringe” (and if you’re not, shame on you) then you know she plays brainy very well. Being beautiful doesn’t hurt, either.
Donovan and Paul Gynt show up in DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN later on in the story when the action moves to South America. They’re the sons of Leopold Gynt, creator of the deadly Voice of Odin that is terrorizing the world and Dillon tracks them down, thinking that they must know the whereabouts of the device and of their father. At the same time, they’re tracking Dillon along with Chew Mi.
So who do I think would be good at playing this pair?
Now before you jump up and down squawking that they don’t look anything alike and couldn’t pass for brothers, allow me to point out that in the book itself a couple of characters themselves observe that the Gynt brothers don’t look like they’re related.
Why Sacha Baron Cohen? Just because he’s such a mystery to me as an actor. When he’s writing, directing and starring in his own movies he’s horrendously bad. But when he’s in a movie directed by others such as Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese he’s so good it’s scary.
Why Woody Harrelson? Because he’s Woody Harrelson. No more reason is required.
And even though the Gynt Brothers are dangerous men committed to killing Dillon, there are some comedic elements to them and I think both of these fine actors would have no problems conveying menace while being slyly humorous at the same time.
And at last we come to the final Casting Call for DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN. And it’s only fitting that this final Casting Call is for the villain of the book: Odin.
For those of you who have read the book you know about the surprise at the end when the true identity of Odin is revealed. If you haven’t read the book, don’t come crying to me about spoilers because if you had any intentions of reading the thing, you would have by now. So there.
And who do I think would make a perfect Odin?
Need I say more?
And now we continue with our Casting Call for DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL!
When DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL begins we’re introduced to Lenny Crawford. A smooth-talking gangster who interrupts Dillon’s vacation on Star Island (is it me or do a lot of Dillon’s vacations get interrupted?) He gets word that Dillon may be on a job that will net him a big payday. And since Dillon owes him seven million dollars, Lenny is naturally interested in seeing if he can get his money back.
So who do I see as playing Lenny?
I’ve been a major fan of Colm Meany since his Star Trek days. First on “The Next Generation” and then on “Deep Space Nine” And as he’s proven in numerous movies and on the AMC western series “Hell On Wheels” he’s exceptionally adroit at playing bad guys when he has to. Especially bad guys who are equal parts businessmen and ruthless cutthroats. Which describes Lenny Crawford perfectly.
Ompuri Winwood has the official title of Operations Chief in Lord Chancellor C’jai’s service. As he explains to Dillon in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL it covers a lot of territory as he is Lord C’jai’s closest adviser and confidant as well as managing C’jai’s day-to-day schedule and being in charge of his security. The position is hereditary as Winwood’s family has served Lord C’jai’s family for seven generations.
So who do I see as Ompuri Winwood? This rather popular chap:
Why Sam Neill? I really don’t know. When I start writing these things I very rarely start off with an actor in mind as a template for a character’s appearance or mannerisms. It was only after I finished writing the second draft that I started hearing Mr. Neill’s voice coming out of Winwood’s mouth and visualizing him as the character when I wrote the third draft. So there you are. Go figure.
Lord Chancellor Murphy C’jai figures very prominently in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL. He hires Dillon to find The Golden Bell of Malacar as he believes it will provide a symbol to unite his country and stop the civil war tearing it apart. Who do I see as playing this character?
Why Brian Blessed? Even though I usually don’t use actors as templates for characters I write about, there was no way I could write Lord C’jai without seeing Mr. Blessed’s face and hearing his voice. And I gotta admit, there’s a part in the book where I was sorely tempted to put in the line; “Dillon’s ALIVE?” purely as a homage to his classic reading of a similar line in “Flash Gordon”
In DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL, Ciryna is one of the most persistent thorns in our hero’s side and one of the most dangerous enemies he’s ever faced. Her beauty hides an unholy bloodlust and desire for death she is more than capable of indulging thanks to her ability to shapeshift. A product of illegal genetic experimentation, Ciryna is able to morph into a variety of lethal forms, each one more fearsome than the last. Who do I think would be a good choice for this role?
Why Ali Larter? She impressed me during her time on the TV show “Heroes” with her ability to be sexy and cold-blooded all at the same time which is Ciryna to a T. And as she showed in “Heroes” and in the “Resident Evil” movies, she’s more than capable of handling the physicality the role would demand.
In DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL, Glaze Binswanger is Ciryna’s partner. A mercenary and professional gunrunner, he’s known for his eccentric manner of dress and speech which is right out of 1940’s Warner Brothers gangster movies. But his eccentricities disguise a ruthless and highly dangerous nature. So who do I think would do a good job playing this character?
Glaze Binswanger is known for being a very handsome man and I’ve got it on good authority that this guy is rumored to be such. I’ve never seen him play a bad guy but I think he’s got a memorable one inside of him somewhere just looking for the opportunity to come out and play.
Reynard Hansen first appeared in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL and has a major role in DILLON AND THE JUDAS CHALICE. We know that he’s a master thief, rumored to be among the best in the world if not the best. Trained by The Thieves Guild of Seville he operates mainly in New York where he has his own team of specialists that he calls his Five Fingers. But whenever his skills are needed by Dillon, he drops whatever he’s doing to help his friend. The details of where and how they met are as yet unrevealed but we do know that Dillon performed such a service for Reynard that Reynard himself says he will never be able to pay Dillon back. Who do I see as playing Reynard?
I actually didn’t see it at first but a couple of people who have read the stories he’s appeared in have suggested Don Cheadle. However, my wife Patricia has somebody else in mind:
She’s a huge Kevin Hart fan, what can I say? What do you think?
Dagna Summers is an Executive Operative working directly under the orders of Ompuri Winwood. She’s a valuable member of his staff having been personally trained by him, making her as dangerous as she is beautiful. She’s assigned to help Dillon in his quest to recover The Golden Bell of Malacar. And since the two of them have very different ideas of how to accomplish that task, it makes for some wonderful friction between them. So who do I think would be a good fit for the role? This chick right here:
Why Pink? I have absolutely no idea if she can act at all. But right from the first sentence I wrote with Dagna, I was seeing Pink’s face and hearing the words in her voice.
Brandon Panofsky was born with a degenerative brain disease that caused seizures and threatened to kill until until his father spent millions on a experimental treatment involving the implanting of organic computer chips that actually took root in his brain and grew. As a result, Brandon is a living computer, capable of absorbing and assimilating tremendous amounts of information. During the course of their adventures together, Dillon and Brandon grow so close that they consider themselves brothers. And who do I see as playing Brandon?
Asa Butterfield has already distinguished himself as the lead in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” and he’s the star of the upcoming “Ender’s Game” He sold me when I saw him in “Hugo”
Brandon’s father has a small but pivotal role in the story. And you may look at my choice for Jerry Panofsky and say; “Really? Him?” But remember how well he played the sleazy manager Billy Fish in Walter Hill’s “Streets of Fire” and I think you’ll agree with me:
Captain Leopold Broz enters the story in command of a Xoniran battle zepplin that is blown up by Dillon. from then on, Captain Broz makes one inept attempt after another to kill Dillon to avenge the loss of his ship and his honor. I say inept because as those of you who have read the book with confirm…Captain Broz simply isn’t very good at it. Who do I see as Captain Broz?
Why Tony Shaloub? Because he’s a fantastic character actor and Captain Broz is a character who has to be comical without knowing he’s comical and Tony Shaloub can do that very well. And I’ve provided a picture of his with a beard and mustache since Captain Broz wears them.
And now we come to The Big Bad of DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL. Evarghan Trout. The man who has thrown the entire island nation of Xonira into civil war that is tearing the country apart. Unknown to anybody, he is also in league with a otherworldly power…a Demon of Chaos named Tikon who owns his soul. Who’d be a good Evarghan Trout?
Really? Bill Paxton? Well, sure…he’s played more than his share of unsavory characters. Enough to convince me he can be a more than credible bad guy.
Timothy “Awesome” Times is a mercenary who has worked with Dillon many times in the past. Most notable is the job that left Dillon stranded on the island kingdom of Tosegio while Awesome Times flew off with the Tosegian Princess, Sathyra. Awesome reappears in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL and Dillon has a chance to settle that score. Who do I see as Awesome Times? This handsome gent right here:
If you’ve seen Mark Boone Junior’s work in the Best TV Show That Nobody’s Watching: “Sons of Anarchy” then I think you can understand why I see him as Awesome Times.
And even though she’s not in the book, while we’re talking about The Princess Sathyra we might as well cast her:
Yes, I know Sade Baderinwa isn’t an actress but thanks to her Nigerian/German parents she has an outasight beauty that is at once exotic and mysterious. Two words that certainly fit Sathyra.
Brighteyes Dillinger is a living enigma for several reasons: he’s an outstanding martial artist who wields a sword with such skill as to wring envy from a samurai. He also possesses a considerable storehouse of knowledge that he shouldn’t have. He shows up about halfway through LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL to help out Dillon but what he actually gives Dillon is the heebie jeebies. Because Brighteyes Dillinger knows that Dillon was born in Usimi Dero and nobody (not even Eli Creed) knows where Dillon was born. Dillinger helps Dillon and manages to get away without ever revealing how he knows what he knows but it’s a certainty he’ll show up again. Who do I see as playing Brighteyes Dillinger?
I don’t think I’ll hear any objections from the ladies as to this choice of casting.
James Tolliver Summers is Dagna’s cousin and like her, works for Lord C’jai. Even though he’s young, he’s steady as a rock and totally committed to the task of saving Xonira from civil war. He proves to be solid backup for Dillon and Co. at the apocalyptic battle of The Norianas Bridge. And here’s the guy who I think would make a good Tolly Summers:
Liam Hemsworth is no stranger to being in action movies as he had substantial supporting roles in “The Expendables 2” and both “Hunger Games” films. And he’s another casting choice I don’t think the girlies will kick about too much.
Lygos Vad is the ruler of Blagdasen Citadel and of those who have lived inside of there for fifty years, cut off from the rest of the world. Lygos Vad has bided his time, waiting patiently because he knew that sooner or later, someone would come for The Golden Bell. Who do I see as Lygos Vad?
Why Denis Haysbert? I’ve been a fan of his ever since his short-lived TV show “Now and Again” He’s a marvelous actor with presence and that wonderful voice.