Nero's PUNISHER: DEAD MAN'S PARTY casting and preview
Hers's a peak at my upcoming FanFic
The time has come once again for me to take a run at Marvel’s unfriendly neighborhood sociopath, Frank Castle. With the publishing of the first installment of my new Punisher FanFic, “Dead Man’s Party,” coming in a few days I wanted to take a break from writing part six and give you guys a preview and casting. I always write my stories in a modified script form complete with suggestions for sound track placement, so seeing as I envision this as a film I like to cast it like one.
Based on his chilling performance in “No Country for Old Men” combined with his haggard appearance, low growling monotone voice, and disquieting stare my personal pick for Frank Castle would be Javier Bardem. Yep I still stand by my original pick of Bardem so forgive me for my unoriginality there.
A lot of people didn’t like my casting of Bardem in the role of The Punisher last time around, so I’ll concede and say, I would like to see Bardem, but as a nod to LEEE and others I will admit if Javier didn’t want the job I would love to see Tom Jane pick up the role again.
It would be odd since this is a series utterly divorced of any Punisher film made thus far, both stylistically and chronologically, but I would love to see him have another shot. I am a big fan of Ray Stevenson and though I detested “War Zone” I don’t think the film failed due to his performance at all. I do however feel the film was so bad that it tainted him as a contender to ever again dawn the Death’s Head.
Sorry Ray. No hard feelings.
As for the supporting roles:
Detective Martin Soap:
I am an Ennis lover of the first order, Preacher and his MAX run on Punisher are some of my all time favorite comics. Admitting that, this may be sacrilege to say but I really didn’t like his Marvel Knights run. I know, I know, “But what about ‘Welcome Back Frank,’ it was good right?” I hate to say it, but not to me. I felt Ennis was watered down by Marvel in that run, it was Punisher on a leash. It was PG-13 anchor chained around an R rated character’s and writer’s throat. That’s why with the exception of Soap I don’t like to use any characters from Knights.
I don’t treat Soap as a bumbling buffoon or at all incapable for that matter. In my take on the world of the Punisher Soap is a good detective, he is merely burnt out. This was the main reason he landed as the sole member of the NYPD’s Punisher Task Force, reflecting the department’s tacit acceptance of the Punisher as a needed asset in the crime ridden New York Boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx. This isn’t to say Soap lacks the some of the humor that Ennis wrote him with, but rather than that humor coming from Soap’s general foolishness, and "bad luck," in my version it has more to do with the fact that he simply doesn’t give a shit. Couple that with the more predictable aspect of being a regular guy placed in the situation of partnering with a character as unfathomable as Frank Castle, a human Terminator gifted with a pathological bloodlust and War jones. Additionally, my version of Soap is a willing accomplice to Castle’s activities; he is too jaded to see a moral high ground anymore in letting some criminals live. Though he finds Frank's methods abhorrent, in that he could never commit wanton slaughter as Frank does; Soap does concede the role Frank fills. Additionally, Soap is the only person in the story that really understands what frank is. After “In the Dark Woods” Soap has come to realize there is no nobility in Frank, that he is not a broken wounded man driven to this life by the need to avenge his lost family, but rather a man who in all likelihood was freed from the bonds of normalcy by the death of his family and allowed to let the murderous nature that had always been locked within him free. He knows Frank is an agent of Death.
I can only see one actor in the role of Martin Soap, Paul Rudd. Rudd has a great way of being funny by simply standing there. There is always something going on with him. The wheels are always turning and I like that in reference to Soap. Paul is also not a bad dramatic actor, as anyone who has seen him in his few less comedic roles knows. (Note: Most of those “non-comedic roles” were in films so bad they were funny in spite of themselves.) Rudd brings earnestness to his characters that I think Soap needs to serve as a semblance of a conscience to Frank, a voice he simply ignores most of the time. He serves most as one of the last remaining tenuous connections to the greater humanity that Frank has left.
Charlene, I love Charlene. She is a character born of a little vignette in Ennis’ “In the Beginning” storyline. A hooker Frank uses for info, she’s a chatter and no compunction to change what she is. Ennis never gave the character a name in his story and she only appeared in one small snippet of a scene, but I liked her. So in my last Punisher adaptation I named her after my wife’s aunt and expanded her role a good bit and gave her a part in “Dead Man’s Party.”
For the character of Charlene I chose Parker Posey.
Posey is one of the quirkiest actresses around and always brings a bitchy frenetic energy to her roles, for these reason I just see her as Charlene, despite the fact that she looks nothing like the character drawn by Lewis Larosa.
In previous casting based on his appearance in “In the Beginning” I chose Dennis Franz for the part of Micro, this was primarily based on the fact that Lewis Larosa used him as the visual reference for the now sixty some odd year old Linus Lieberman.
My stories are anchored firmly in the 1980’s era, the bad old days of New York this is done as a means of still keeping Frank’s origin in Vietnam untouched as well as giving him an urban wasteland befitting his savagery so for those reasons I’m casting Micro a good bit younger, firmly middle aged.
For Mico’s first outing in the” Neroverse” I’m casting Stephen Root.
Anyone who has seen a Coen’s film has probably seen Root. Like Rudd he is primarily known for comedic roles. You may ask why I like casting comedians alongside characters like Punisher; the simple answer is comedians understand humanity perhaps better than most people. They can catch nuance and play with it. And with a straight man like Castle there needs to be a character that can bring humanity either to him through interaction or exude enough humanity and vulnerability for both of them without hamming things up too much. Root has this ability and Root has a near spot on look for the ‘80s era Micro from the comics.
As for what my version of Micro; there are major differences in his origin compared to that of the comics. Traditionally Micro became involved with Frank after his nephew was murdered. And while I appreciate the idea it just seems like they were grasping at straws to make the impetus for him aiding in the murder of over 800 people (the kill number he mentions in “In the Beginning” as the number of thugs ended by Frank while Micro was his companion). In this story Micro has a more tragic and personal loss and is shown as a man who cannot bring himself to kill, but whose hatred is so strong he is willing to wield Frank Castle as a tool of destruction to do what he cannot. One traditional Micro characteristic that I will keep is his unshakable belief that there is still humanity in Frank and that one day his war will stop. Whereas Soap and his bleaker view of humanity has come to see Frank as a killer born, Micro has a more liberal view of Frank’s nature, seeing him as merely broken and still able to be redeemed or reformed. Those of you who read the comics know that it is this misguided belief in the nature of Frank Castle that cost Micro his life at Frank’s own shotgun filled hand. This happens many years down the road so I assure you that you won’t be seeing ‘ol Linus’ head explode in this story, but I stand 100% behind the idea of this being the character’s ultimate end.
The Bad Guys AKA the guys whose motivations are only slightly darker than Frank's:
John James Toomey:
John James is another rather minor character in the MAX series that I’ve expanded on and fleshed out a good bit as a cross between the real life Frank Lucas and fictional Nino Brown. In the comics it is actually Toomey’s wife who plays a larger role in the “Widowmaker” story arch, and she will appear in “Dead Man’s Party,” but in a very small part. The fictional John James Toomey is the number one crack lord of Bedford Stuyvesant and Brownsville in Brooklyn in the early days of the real life Crack Epidemic that swept over the US in the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s.
I wanted Toomey to have some depth as a villain and not just be the typical shallow drug dealer cliché. Toomey is a family man and that is his primary motivation. He’s a black man that came home from Vietnam and found that there weren’t a lot of breaks for black men in 1970s Brooklyn and saw his opportunity for easy money and took it so that his kids would have a better life than he had. In public he is like Frank Lucas, a respectable businessman and real estate owner hiding his criminal empire behind a legitimate facade. Amongst his soldiers he is Nino Brown, tough, feared, and ruthless. With his family he’s Cliff Huxtable, a loving father who genuinely cares for his wife and kids.
For Toomey I’m going with Eamonn Walker who you may have seen in his roles in “Oz” as Said, “Tears of the Sun” as Zee or “Lord of War” as Andre Baptiste Senior.
As Toomey’s chief lieutenant, confidant, and younger brother Elvin Toomey, I’d like to see Dwight Ewell. Yes, Hooper X himself.
The next baddie was originally intended to be Barracuda, but I just didn’t feel I could do him justice yet. For one thing Barracuda just didn’t fit in this time frame (and truthfully as a southern white guy I didn’t feel entirely comfortable writing a character that spouts the “N word” every few sentences.) He is a generation younger than Frank having had almost as much military experience as him, but in small conflicts the US Army saw throughout the whole of the 80’s and 90’s. For the role of the mercenary brought in by the Cartels I really wanted someone that had been in ‘Nam and knew Frank, and that just wasn’t Barracuda. It was, however the character of J.R. Walker, Shotgun. Shotgun is a little used character from Daredevil and the Punisher: War Zone comics of the 1990’s and a favorite of John Romita JR.
My version of Shotgun is a bit different from the Shotgun of the comics his motives and code of ethics is by no means as altruistic. For all the appearances I read with Walker in the comics he never got his man, Frank or Murdock or some other hero always got in the way, yet despite this the guy still commanded a $5,000,000 per hit fee. I never bought it. In my version JR is a man not unlike Castle; he has become enamored of fighting and killing, the only difference is that he has no compunction about who he kills. Pay JR Walker his fee and you will get your corpse and those of anyone who gets in his way to deliver that corpse. This Shotgun is part from the comics, part Jules from “Pulp Fiction,” and part Sam Gerard of “The Fugitive.”
To don the dreads I choose Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Adebisi of “OZ” and “Lost’s” Mr.Eko.
Alejandro Ruiz, Conejo:
Conejo, or “Rabbit” as Shotgun likes to call him is a sinister guy. He is the chief security/intelligence officer for the Sandoval Cartel. He is a former Cuban Army major that defected and found his way into the employ of the cartels as a man that knows how to get certain things done. He is a diminutive man, standing only 5 feet 6 inches tall, but there is something terrifying about the little man. This character has a core basis as a tribute to Tom Clancy’s character Colonel Felix Cortez from his novel “Clear and Present Danger” played by Joaquim de Almeida in its film adaptation.
To fill his Italian loafers I chose Lobo Sebastian who you may remember from several smaller roles on TV shows like “24,” “CSI,” and 2005’s “The Longest Yard” remake.
Last but not least there is the man himself. Ernesto Sandoval the head of the Medellín Cartel. Sandoval is a background character for much of the story, but trust me he will be given a big scene to shine. To play this shadowy and fearsome figure I’m going with Benicio Del Toro.
As for if by some one in a billion chance anyone ever actually makes this into a film there are a few directors I would love to take on the story. My top picks for directors would be: Antoine Fuqua director of "The Replacement Killers,""Training Day,""Tears of the Sun," and "Brooklyn's Finest."
Also I love the frenetic and frantic pace of Tony Scott director of films like "Top Gun,""True Romance,""Crimson Tide," and "Man on Fire."
My ultimate director pick due to the era the film takes place and simply because I adore the rough matter of fact almost documentary style of filming he has evolved into is the one and only Michael Mann. Mann is the crafter of the original "Miami Vice" television series as well as the theatrical release, among his other films are "Manhunter,""The Last of the Mohicans,""Heat,""Collateral," and "Public Enemies."
The setting is the winter of '84-85, Brooklyn and the South Bronx primarily with a few stops in Westchester, Connecticut, Manhattan, and somewhere south of the boarder. A lot of current CBMers may actually be too young to remember the Crack Epidemic in any way (and Jesus that makes me feel old), but this was the closest thing to the wild west that there’s been in modern times here in America. The crime rate was sky high in the major cities; there were murders in numbers that younger readers can’t even relate to. Crack is a drug that gives an intense, but very fleeting high. It was cheap to make with one Kilo of pure cocaine yielding ten times that in crack and that resulted in a very small street cost making it the drug of choice for the poorer areas. The problem was it was hyper addictive. It might not cost a lot to get it, but what you bought would only keep you high for a couple hours then you were out of cash and jonesing for your next hit and you’d do whatever you had to for the cash to get that hit. People stole, robbed, mugged, and murdered at a rate unheard of to get their cash for crack. Add this to the fact that the drug war on Columbian coke and the Cartels that produced it was really just getting started and the huge supply being smuggled into the US meant that the wave of crack violence was nearly unstoppable.
As for the basis for “Dead Man’s Party” I am going completely off script for this one. This will be my first FanFic that is completely original and not an adaptation of existing material. I am going to be giving homage to Ennis with the prologue of the tale, using a great scene from “Widowmaker” to set the tone. Like my previous stories this will be set entirely in the mid 1980’s and I will root it in many real locations and events, there will be no hanging upside down from chandeliers firing modified MP5Ks akimbo, only reasonable military tactics used in urban and guerilla warfare. The will be blood, there will be shootings, stabbings, bludgeoning, strangulations, eviscerations, executions, and one big ass bombing giving this story a death toll large enough to make an 80’s action movie blush. One of those deaths will claim a member of the supporting cast and may make a few fans angry, but it’s my call. I’ve tried to infuse the story with wit and heart, violence and substance, action and genuine drama. Here’s hoping I pul