An interesting thing that has happened to me a number of times since my first novel hit the Bestseller’s list on Amazon last year has been getting approached by film producers, agents and actors interested in in. And by “interested” I mean “they sniff around anything out there with even the tiniest bit of buzz.” Still, it’s cool to be considered one of the pretty girls at a dance, even if it is just for a moment or two.
The idea of who I saw as playing Malcolm Weir in a movie adaptation of “The Cestus Concern” was the question most often asked…not that any of those asking really cared what I thought. The actual casting process is generally not one the creator of a property usually has a whole lot of say over. It did get the gears turning in my head, though: if there was a movie, who would I see in it?
It’s a cool question to play around with, and to answer it I have to back to the what I asked on the back of the cover for “The Cestus Concern:” Who is Malcolm Weir?
When I sat down to write Malcolm Weir I had some very specific things in mind for the character. I wanted him to be a likable every-man type. He was a nice guy tossed into some pretty horrible events and I needed the audience to still be on his side in spite of the character having to do some pretty awful things along the way. The other important thing that constantly rattled around in my head was his age: Mal is a veteran military guy heading towards mid-life. He’s just a shade passed his prime, although having cybernetic arms grafted onto his body probably helped to even things for him a bit. As a guy just now entering into my 40s, kicking and screaming I might add, being able to write a character with similar things going through his head was a huge help for me. I just like the idea of a hero with a bit of dust on him and some life experience.
So, when it comes down to casting an actor for the role of Malcolm Weir, the things I’d keep in mind would be: age (no one too young or soft looking), likability, and physicality…after all, the Weir Codex novels are all about as hardcore action as you can get. That last bit sort of negated the two actors I kept in mind during my writing process. The guys I tried to visualize when working on the early stages of “The Cestus Concern” were 1990s Scott Bakula and Nathan Fillion. They’re both incredibly likable, down-to-earth guys will a lot of presence. Unfortunately, neither one of them is what I’d call an action star…and that’s not mentioning the fact that 1990s Scott Bakula hasn’t existed for a very long time now.
With Fillion and 1990s Bakula out of the running, who would I cast? Well, I’m glad you asked because I just happen to have put a list together of my top five casting choices for Malcolm Weir in a film version of “The Cestus Concern.” Here there are in no particular order.
Top 5 Casting Choices for The Cestus Concern
Scott Adkins: Ok, so I said the list was in “no particular order,” but I sort of lied because martial arts actor, Scott Adkins, is about as perfect a fit for the role of Malcolm Weir as I could possibly imagine. In terms of on-screen martial arts, there really aren’t very many people in his league. Adkins is amazing. He’s also got a really cool nice-guy look to him (when films let him show it off) at the same time. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got a lot of nerd street cred from being in things like Expendables 2 and playing Deadpool in X-men Origins: Wolverine.
Michael Jai White: This may seem like a strange choice because in the books Malcolm Weir is caucasian. For me that’s not really a defining aspect of the character. In fact, I was once asked “Your boy, Malcolm, what do you think about him coming in a flavor other than vanilla.” My answer then, as it is now, was: Michael Jai White. MJW has amazing charisma on screen, can handle comedy as well as action, and is a pretty darn good actor. Throw in the fact that he wrote and starred in Black Dynamite and you’ve got a winner. The only problem we might run into is that he played “Jax” in the “Mortal Kombat” tv series…a guy with metal arms.
Chris Casamassa: This is a name a lot of you might not be familiar with, but you probably know his work as Scorpion in the “Mortal Kombat” films. Or, if you’re my age, you may remember him from the TV show “WMAC Masters.” He was also George Clooney’s stunt double in “Batman & Robin.” In addition to film work, Chris is a championship martial artist with an 8th degree black belt in Karate. This guy is the real deal when it comes to martial arts, on screen and off. He’s got the likeable everyman look as well as being one of those guys whose personality and charm dominates any room he enters.
Liam McIntyre: I go back and forth of Mr. McIntyre of “Spartacus: War of the Damned” fame. I really enjoy his work, but I had such a man-crush on the late Andy Whitfield that I didn’t warm up to him for a long time. However, Liam’s work in the Starz series was amazing and showed what a fantastic range the guy has. If he could pull off a Southern American accent, he’d be a damned fine choice for Mal. Of course, I’d have to resist the urge to write some scenes of Mal kicking the hell out of Romans just for fun…
Jon Bernthal: In a list filled with martial artists and action stars, it may seem a bit odd for me to toss Jon Bernthal of “Walking Dead” fame into the mix. As far as I know, he’s never really done an action role of any sort — unless being a douchebag on an episode of “Friends” counts. But, damn it, I love the guy. If his attitude and ego don’t get in the way, I think he’s got the makings of a big star. His character, Shane, was the only reason I watched “Walking Dead” for as long as I did. Bernthal was able to make a dick character into someone I rooted for. He did some awful things in the show, but I understood why and stuck with him because of Bernthal’s portrayal. I think he could pull of the acting side of Mal in film in spades…plus, he’s in good enough shape that I could buy him as a former US Army captain.
So there you have it. My top 5 casting ideas. What do you, my loyal readers, think of my choices? Surprising? Horrible? What do you think? I’d love to hear who readers would like to see playing Mal in a movie. Send me your choices or respond with them down below!
Oh, and don’t forget, my latest novel (and sequel to “The Cestus Concern“) is now out. You can buy “The Cestus Contract” in digital and print formats on Amazon right now! What are you waiting for?! Go buy it and join in on some of the most insane action ever put down on paper!!
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius