Continuing the replies to queries posed in Ask Me Anything! February 2012.
Charlie asks: Imagine you were called upon to recast the Star Wars movies, for some reason. Who would your picks be?
Hmmm, that's tough. Very tough. Really, really tough.
If we were to reboot Star Wars right now, would it even have the same characters? Or would it go another direction? Interesting questions...but assuming that we just live in an alt-universe where Star Wars is made for the first time, right now, here's how it might be cast. Maybe.
Luke Skywalker: Geez, I don't know. I think you'd need a relative unknown for this role. I really do.
Han Solo: Well, if I can't have any more adventures of Captain Malcolm Reynolds...Nathan Fillion!
Princess Leia Organa: Why not? Natalie Portman.
Ben "Obi Wan" Kenobi: We need a somewhat older Brit here, don't we? You know, I'd be intrigued to see what Alan Rickman could do here.
Governor Tarkin: Christopher Walken.
Now, Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, Yoda, and others don't even need casting, because they'll be played by people in suits or CGI. When you really think about it, there really aren't too many major human characters in Star Wars. To really get some interesting casting going, we'd have to re-do the story somehow to get some more people in there, I think. I'd love to get Clancy Brown in there at some point, but where? Meryl Streep as Mon Mothma? Michael Clark Duncan as Lando Calrissian? And Summer Glau could play a female Jedi who is so bad-ass that she doesn't even need to use a lightsaber!
A reader who prefers to remain anonymous e-mails: What Guy Gavriel Kay novels do you think would make good movies? (Are there any films of his novels?)
What about other books? Anything you read recently that would make a good film?
So far, there are no films of GGK's novels. I don't think that all of them would make good movies -- The Fionavar Tapestry would, by necessity, strike people onscreen as a big-time rip-off of The Lord of the Rings, because film audiences wouldn't give him too much slack for 'playing with tropes' and that sort of thing. Tigana, by its structure, would be a difficult film adaptation as well. It might work as a miniseries, though.
I know that The Lions of Al-Rassan has been in development for several years.. I think it would make an interesting movie, but then, I'm biased in that it's my favorite of his books. It would also be easy to screw up, though.
The Sarantine Mosaic is too big to fit into a single movie. The Last Light of the Sun would work, I think, and work very well. Ditto Ysabel, which would work very well as a 'modern day' fantasy -- although the bits involving Dave and Kim from Fionavar would lack most of their impact without the earlier books as context. Given the quality of fantasy and adventure films from the far east of late, Under Heaven could be a magnificent film.
Ultimately, though, I tend to think that the GGK novel that would work best as a movie, by way of its fairly tight narrative, might well be A Song for Arbonne.
In terms of other books making good movies: I don't normally think in these terms, but there have been some books that strike me as cinematic in their writing. I have yet to blog about it, but Jim Butcher's Storm Front (the first of his 'Harry Dresden' novels) would film well, I think. There was a book I read a few years ago, called The Caliph's House, that I think would film really well -- it's about a man who decides, almost on a whim, to move his family from London to Casablanca, into a house that's a fixer-upper. A whole lot of 'fish out of water' stuff ensues.
The bit of reading I've done lately that would make the best movie, though, is this post of Sheila's, about one of the firefighters she met in the course of some recent harrowing (but well-ending) stuff that went on in her life. A man and a woman, brought together by their shared love of Elvis...and one cat! (Well, not really, but a really terrific romantic comedy-drama could be made from this stuff.)
More answers to come! (And new questions are still welcome!)