30 days ago

The Oscars took place last weekend, an awards ceremony which always has a special place for me. My grandad, Lionel Couch, was an art director and – as you can see from the accompanying photo – was twice nominated for Oscars, for Sons and Lovers (1960) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). I once asked him if he would have swapped two nominations for a single win from a single nomination. He replied that he’d rather have the two nominations, as that spoke of a body of work, rather than ‘getting lucky’ with a one-off strike. There’s a lot of wisdom in that answer. A friend of mine recently told me that when he was studying for his MA in film, they looked at art direction in classic British comedies, and Grandad’s work – particularly in the Carry On films, of which he made a dozen or so – was spoken of highly. He also worked on several Hammer horror movies, as well as classics such as Genevieve, The Battle of Britain, Casino Royale (the 1967 one with David Niven as Bond, not the later Daniel Craig one) and the TV series Dangerman, among others.

Like, I suspect, most authors, I playfully imagine my work being turned into a film, enjoying the game of matching up famous actors with my characters. For Dead Man Singing, Dave is 40 at the start of the story, although there’s plenty of room for someone several years older to play down. They’d need to convey the world-weariness that defines Dave when we first meet him, and in an ideal world (which, given we’re dreaming here, it will be) they would also be a more than competent guitarist and singer.

One of this week’s biggest headline grabbers from the Oscars has also been my first choice for Dave for some time. Prior to his acting career, Cillian Murphy was in a band who were offered – and rejected – a record deal. He is also a sometime presenter on BBC 6 Music and a huge fan of The Band, which makes me think he would get where Dave is coming from musically. Aidan Turner (Poldark) and Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) are other actors with a musical background who I'd be open to considering.

Cindy is younger than Dave, around 30 or so, and anyone playing her would need to portray her complex mixture of strength and wounded vulnerability. Two actors top my list for Cindy, one a star of British television, the other with a bigger Hollywood CV. Jodie Whittaker and Carey Mulligan would both, I think, be great choices, and Mulligan would have the added bonus of possibly persuading her husband Marcus Mumford to sign on as music co-ordinator (although Sid Griffin of the Long Ryders remains my first choice for that role).

There are other actors I can see in various supporting roles: Dominic West as Tony, Olivia Coleman as Penelope (please please please), Mark Gattis as Creaveny-Walsh. For the role of Jym, I would be more than happy for my friend Ben Goodridge to throw his hat in the ring, although I’d leave that decision up to the casting director – you’ll have to earn the role on merit, Ben.

Over to you: any suggestions on dream casting for these or any of the other roles in the book?

Ben Goodridge

Ooooo, think I’d do a good Jym! Surely the writer gets a say in who is cast!! 😂 Cheers for the nod mate! ❤️

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