Chris Hemsworth turned 29 not long ago, and I’d like to offer him a belated birthday present: the starring role of the upcoming movie of my latest book, “Empress of the Seven Hills!”
Sigh – if only. The fact is, I doubt HBO will be burning up my phone line anytime soon with offers to turn Empress of the Seven Hills into a star-studded 7-season miniseries a la “Game of Thrones.” Historical movies are hideously expensive to make, what with all those costumed extras and elaborate battle scenes and CGI Colosseum fights, and even if I did get a movie offer, writers never get casting approval. “Empress of the Seven Hills” could get turned into a C-grade borderline porno with Fabio in nipple rings as Vix, and I’d have no power to stop it.
But it’s always fun to dream – so here is my ideal cast for “Empress of the Seven Hills!” (Blog reprint from My Book, The Movie, by kind permission of blogger extraordinaire Marshal who has also hosted me on Writers Read and Coffee With A Canine.)
Vix: My brash and abrasive soldier hero is the hardest to cast. For one thing, he starts the book out as a swaggering boy of nineteen, and ends as a capable war hero of thirty-three. But I’ll go with Chris Hemsworth–in “The Avengers” he showed humor, charisma, and swagger just like Vix, and in “Snow White and the Huntsman” he proved he could swing a blade with serious heft.
Sabina: Emma Watson would be perfect for my intelligent, reticent, and just-a-bit-mysterious heroine. Playing a senator’s daughter with a yen for adventure, Ms. Watson would get to dress up and dine with emperors, or go grunge to hunker down with legionaries, all with equal aplomb. Plus rock a pixie cut.
Hadrian: for Sabina’s husband and the book’s villain, I’ll pick Wentworth Miller. His stint in “Prison Break” showed him as charming and intelligent, his good looks hiding a serpentine mind and a cool, detached ruthlessness–perfect for Hadrian.
Titus: Vix’s unlikely best friend is a shy over-educated patrician boy who grows into confident man-to-be-reckoned-with, and I can think of no one better than Zach Gilford. As the teenage quarterback in “Friday Night Lights” he showed both sweetness and steel beneath a gawky inarticulate surface.
Emperor Trajan: the confident, charismatic man’s-man emperor of Rome, beloved by all and especially by Vix who is his protege. Put Harrison Ford in a breastplate, and we’re done.
Empress Plotina: with a name like that, you know Trajan’s wife will be a scheming villainness. Michelle Forbes would be perfect; handsome but cold.
Mirah: Vix’s fiery Jewish wife with the red hair? Emma Stone.
Senator Marcus Norbanus: Gabriel Byrne would be perfect for Sabina’s intellectual senator father
Faustina: Sabina’s little sister, who grows up into a beauty and sets her sights on the shy Titus for a future husband. Jessica Brown Findlay plays an identical type in “Downton Abbey” as an earl’s spirited rebel daughter who uses beauty, charm, wit, and everything else in her arsenal to make sure she gets her own way. Just like Faustina.
Now for funding. HBO, are you listening?