A belated reaction to Book Riot’s MaddAddam dream cast

I’m about three-quarters of the way through Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam right now, and it is the most exciting thing in my life. I’m becoming inordinately excited about HBO’s upcoming Darren Aronofsky-helmed TV adaptation of Atwood’s entire dystopian trilogy, to the point where it cannot possibly live up to my expectations. (The world building of Game of Thrones meets the storytelling density of The Wire meets the visual symbolism and character depth of The Sopranos…)

So, a few months late, I happened upon Book Riot’s MaddAddam dream cast, written by Josh Corman. Needless to say, I have some thoughts on his casting choices. Check out the Book Riot post, then read on:

(Oh, and I guess there might be spoilers ahead. Be warned.)

Aaron Paul as Jimmy/Snowman: Well, we’re used to seeing him as a feckless, brooding underachiever. So, that’s a point in his favour. But Snowman-the-Jimmy is more sardonic than Jesse Pinkman. I’m not sure Paul can divest himself of his sincerity to the extent required for him to match the Snowman in my brain.
My suggestion – Evan Peters: I confess that I’ve only seen Peters in one role – Quicksilver in the latest X-Men. There’s a teensy bit of overlap between the two characters: Quicksilver is basically the world’s most efficient slacker, after all. That role proved that he can bring the wit and the unlikely charm required for Jimmy. And, I just get the feeling based on reading his other credits (seemingly dominated by a bunch of roles on American Horror Story) that he can bring the vulnerability as well.

Paul Dano as Glenn/Crake: A million times, yes. This is so perfect that I’ll be disappointed if HBO casts anybody else.

Rinko Kikuchi as Oryx: Yeah, she’ll do. I liked her well enough in Pacific Rim. I can’t help but think that there must be somebody better out there. But, presumably because of the paucity of visible film and TV roles for Asian women, I haven’t the slightest clue who that person could be.

Anna Kendrick as Ren: I dunno. I can’t see Kendrick playing a character who suffers as much as Ren does. Corman writes that “Kendrick’s winning smile would make Ren’s fear all the more gripping,” but I suspect it would mostly just put a damper on what a shitty deal Ren gets in this story.
My suggestion – Emilia Clarke: It’s a pipe dream, I know. Game of Thrones will almost certainly be raging on when MaddAddam hits our screens, rendering Clarke woefully unavailable. But seriously, how perfect would she be? She could sell the dickens out of Ren’s fear and hurt. And who knows? Maybe the GoT showrunners will kill Dany off brutally next season so she can play Ren. We can only hope.

Ellen Page as Toby: Sorry, no. Even if she looked her age, she’d still look about 10 years too young. Plus, Toby is supposed to be a hard-shelled woman with a soft interior. Page’s calling card is the opposite: unthreatening, but with a steely resolve. I love her, but uh-uh.
My suggestion – Elizabeth Moss: Okay, I know she’s only five years older than Page. But somehow, I see this working. Atwood makes quite a lot of Toby’s unastounding appearance in the books, and we know from Mad Men season one that Moss can be made to look plain, with a certain amount of ingenious costume and makeup design. And, she’s flat out just one of the best actresses working today. She’s good at playing tough, intelligent characters. And I think she’d really shine in scenes with Toby and Zeb. Speaking of…

Chad Coleman as Zeb: Ooh, I like this. I totally wouldn’t have thought of it, since it’s been a while since I watched The Wire, and The Walking Dead isn’t really my thing. But this man has roguish charm to burn. And I suspect he could bring the requisite danger to Zebulon – every bit as important as the snark.

So, there’s my thoughts on the roles that Book Riot cast. But, while we’re playing this game, let’s do a few more. The MaddAddam trilogy is filled with vibrant supporting players. So, who should get the call for those?

Jeffrey Wright as Adam One: It’s all in the voice. Wright is capable of some seriously mellifluous tones. As far as I can tell from having read eleven-twelfths of the trilogy, Adam One’s defining traits are not so much charisma and wisdom, like you’d expect from a leader of a religious movement. It’s more a sort of brazen imperviousness and ruthless devotion to enacting his ends. He’s not a pastor; he’s an activist. I can see Wright pulling this off with marvellous aplomb.

Gillian Jacobs as Amanda: I envision Jacobs’ performance in this as basically a sincere version of her high school anarchist persona that crops up from time to time in Community. I think she could do that. And I think it would work. And, I think she has the range to pull off Amanda’s catatonia in the later parts of the story. And, I think she’d be brilliant alongside Emilia Clarke.

Constance Shulman as Pilar: She plays Yoga Jones in Orange is the New Black. It’s easy enough to picture her lovingly tending bees, but things would really get interesting when she’s pitted against Coleman’s Zeb in a chess match on the HealthWyzer premises. The thing about Shulman is that she’s a reassuring presence, but she can also totally rewire your impressions of a character in the course of a single scene so that she’s suddenly not reassuring anymore.

This was fun. God, I can’t wait for this show.

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