Page 16 of the Complete and Uncut version of The Stand has printed on it the words “penis” and “vagina.” I know this because those words leaped off the page at my third grade teacher as she was reading over my shoulder during quiet reading time. She confiscated my book for the day and told me I couldn’t bring it back without a signed permission slip from my parents. So, I did what any intelligent kid would do. I ripped out page 16, took home the novel and permission slip, told my mom the teacher was upset because the book had “monsters,” and brought back the signed permission slip. I finished The Stand over the next four months. That was my first of several readings of the epic novel. To say that this is for me a beloved work is a gross understatement.
I also love villains. And I count Randall Flagg as one of the two best literary villains in modern literature (behind Judge Holden of Blood Meridian, right ahead of Amy Dunne of Gone Girl). Yesterday’s announcement that Matthew McConaughey could be stepping into the role of Randall Flagg in the four-film theatrical adaptation of The Stand (The Guardian) is one that will probably be a crowd-pleaser for general audiences. Critical consensus suggests that McConaughey is riding a career wave right now, and, aside from his rather pedestrian turn in Interstellar, I’m inclined to agree. But, as a fan of the novels, villains, and this particular villain, I am very skeptical of this decision.
Like Amy Dunne just a few months ago, Randall Flagg, as he exists within the novel, has the opportunity to earn the sort of status held by the greatest movie villains of all time. I can think of no villain role of this status that was successfully assigned to the star of the moment (feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). Great villains catch you wholly off guard, they step onscreen with no preconceptions and none of your trust. And aside from his turn in Killer Joe, McConaughey’s roles have generally been of the sort to earn audience affection or indifference.
No worries, Warner Bros. reps. I have your backs. I’m going to fix this decision for you and go ahead and decide who should be cast in all the other major roles of the film. Don’t worry about thanking me. My contact information is in my bio, or just drop my site a seven figure donation.
Redman is as close to a central protagonist that exists in this sprawling narrative. He’s sorta like Frodo, but a Texan. He’s smart, crafty, and strong willed. His decisions are the most crucial of the narrative (and perhaps the most obvious).
This could be the perfect breakthrough movie role for Timothy Olyphant, who has already conquered similar roles in TV twice (with Deadwood and Justified). His face is both sympathetic and searingly intense, his ability to walk along lines of moral complexity could add layers to this movie.
The pop star. The rock icon who is on his way up when the world ends. Larry is a ladies’ man, a heartthrob, he is Springsteen meets Timberlake. At the time of the novel’s writing, Larry was built to a certain template and that template has since changed.
Larry Underwood, today, would need to be a bit of indie, a bit of pop, clean with only a hint of stubble, a singer/songwriter sort. Number one hits go to guys like Adam Levine. With that in mind, perhaps it would be best to go with someone who already has a presence in the indie movie scene. Ryan Gosling has musical side projects and know how and has been due for a mainstream theatrical breakthrough in film.
Fran Goldsmith is the young, Maine-borne voice-of-reason and eventual moral compass in Hemingford, Nebraska.
If there’s one criticism that can be leveraged against the 1994 miniseries, it is this: The cast of the made-for-TV miniseries The Stand is about as ethnically diverse as the cast of Hee Haw. Young Frannie offers a perfect opportunity to remedy this unintentional ethnic cleansing. Lupita Nyong’o is an actress in possession of both strength and a delicate grace, the sort of thing demanded by this role. And wouldn’t it be nice if the first baby born post-Apocalypse served as a symbol of a finally-post-racial world?
This role is tough. The young, deaf mute is present and pivotal in some of the most explosive moments of the story. His role in the book is, obviously, illustrated through textual monologue. An explosively expressive actor is required.
I’ve been campaigning for Casey Affleck to receive more leading roles since Gone Baby Gone. His turns in Ain’t Them Body Saints and The Assassination of Jesse James are evidence of his ability to carry narrative weight. And his throwaway usage in Interstellar suggests he might come at a discount, B-list price tag.
I don’t feel comfortable casting Tom Cullen.
Shit. Prosthetics often suck. And there aren’t exactly an abundance of bajillion year old black actresses in Hollywood.
Viola Davis comes to mind?
Sam Rockwell. Damn, son. Let’s move on.
Nadine = Emma Stone
Glenn Bateman = Chris Cooper
Harold = Miles Teller
Lloyd = Edward Norton
Ralph = Idris Elba
Recasting Randall Flagg (2 Options)
The ultimate evil, the heart of darkness, the black side of existence.
I’m going to give two options here: One logical and one ideal.
Logical Option: Michael Shannon. He deserves this role. He would make this role one for the ages.
Ideal Option = Nic Fucking Cage. Disregard everything else. This post is now a full-on petition to reverse the McConaughey talks and offer the role to Nic Cage. Sign it in the comments. Let’s get this to Congress.
Killer Joe: LD Entertainment Drive: FilmDistrict Fury: Columbia Pictures Ghost Rider: Columbia Pictures