It’s been a minute since our last edition of Canon Casting, our ongoing feature where we fan-cast various Star Wars projects. In the past we’ve covered novels like Thrawn, Bloodline, and the entire Aftermath trilogy, as well as Star Wars Rebels (through season three). I’ve got a few Canon Casting projects in the works but figured I’d throw you a bone and tackle the excellent tie-in novel to the game Battlefront II, Inferno Squad, by Christie Golden. And of course ***SPOILERS*** will be prevalent, but I’m sure you figured that.
For those new to the feature and/or those in need of a rules recap, here you go: We tackle a non-film project and fan cast it – with a few rules. Actors have to be alive, and age appropriate. So, in other words, you can’t cast an actor who’s passed away, even if it means a recast. Same deal with not being able to ‘time travel’ to find the perfect actor – no, Marlon Brando isn’t available… Lastly, if one of my current or previous Canon Casting choices actually gets cast in an official Star Wars film, I have to recast them. Yes, it happens, ask Thandie Newton…. Make sense, good? I also approach each Canon Casting project with what I feel is an appropriate budget, etc., as not every story will be made into a billion dollar movie. For Inferno Squad I’ve chosen the route of a premium, direct-to-consumer movie (i.e. Netflix, HBO, Showtime, etc.) OK, let’s get to it:
Iden Versio, Del Meeko, Gideon Hask, and Garrick Versio:
Yeah, these were the no-brainers as each of these roles were cast for motion capture for the game Battlefront II and I love each and every one of them – especially Janina (duh!) and T.J. Ramini as Del Meeko. Let’s meet the actor I chose for the fourth member of Inferno Squad, the one who doesn’t appear in the game:
I went back-and-forth on the casting choices for Seyn Marana for quite a while, and she was one of two characters that held up this post for a week or so. In the end, I kept coming back to Kimiko Glenn, a memorable supporting actress on Netflix’s highly acclaimed Orange in the New Black. Some of this decision was based on Janina Gavankar’s narration and portrayal of Seyn in the audiobook, as I really heard Kimiko in Janina’s voice: fast-talking, slightly high-pitched, and a quick-thinker with perfect recollection. Aesthetically she fits the role perfectly, and in addition to that, based on the perfomances I’ve seen of the young actress I think she is more than up to the task of portraying the youngest member of Inferno Squad with the photographic memory. Here’s to you, Kimiko! Moving on, let’s cast a couple smaller roles…
Zeehay Versio and Lassa Rhayme:
These were both small roles (as was much of the supporting cast in Inferno Squad), with one being a must-cast and one being a fun-cast, if you take my meaning. For the role of Iden’s mother, Zeehay Versio, I went with Eva LaRue. The role of Zeehay is small in the book and I went with an attractive actress best known for her work on CSI Miami and the soap opera All My Children (so maybe I’m an old-school soap aficionado, don’t tell anyone..). Iden’s mother is a galaxy-renowned artist responsible for painting Imperial propaganda posters and flyers. She’s described as a very beautiful woman, and much of Iden’s physical features are attributed to her. Eva is a gorgeous woman, and at 51 years old she is old enough to portray the mother of our protagonist and wife of the hard-ass that’s Garrick Versio. For the tiny role of pirate queen Lassa Rhayme I went outside the box and tapped UFC fighter Paige VanZant for the role. Lassa is a beautiful blue-skinned Pantoran with a helluva mean streak, and I have a feeling we will be seeing more of her after having appearances in both of Christie Golden’s Star Wars books – Dark Disciple and Inferno Squad. Time to meet The Dreamers:
Piikow, Dahna, and Sadori Vushon:
Before we get into the fan-casting of The Dreamers, let’s talk for a minute about who they are for those that haven’t read the book. The Dreamers are an offshoot of Saw Gerrera’s Partisan Rebels, formed after the destruction of Jedha in the amazing standalone film Rogue One. They hold steadfast to Saw’s vision of the war, including his tactics which Mon Mothma and the Rebel Alliance leadership deemed ‘extreme’. Above are three members of The Dreamers’ supporting cast that I felt were vital to the story. Let’s start with the diminutive and good-hearted Chadra-Fan, Piikow. I absolutely loved the character of Piikow, and he served a vital role in the book as we see his relationship with Del Meeko blossom to the point of friendship and you as the reader really don’t want anything bad to happen to Piikow, even though it was Inferno Squad’s main objective to eliminate all of The Dreamers… As far as the fan-casting for Piikow goes it was super easy – of course I went with Warwick Davis, as he has to be in every Star Wars project, right? The role of Piikow would give him a much-deserved chance to shine as well, as most of his parts in Star Wars films are small. Moving on to Dahna… I love the character of Dahna, the sultry second-in-command Twi-lek. Dahna is beautiful and was formerly a slave, so she takes to Seyn Marana very quickly, as Seyn’s cover was to pose as a slave to gain entrance into The Dreamers. I also must note that once again Janina Gavankar’s narration of the character of Dahna very much played into my casting choice, and I loved it. For this role I went with Alicia Witt, a versatile actor known for playing diverse characters in TV (Cybill and The Walking Dead) as well as film (88 Minutes and Urban Legend). Alicia is a beautiful actress who also has the range to be sultry and vicious in the same breath. She’ll do nicely… Finally, for the role of Sadori Vushon, the young Kage who falls for Seyn (and vice-versa, with heartbreaking results) I tapped one of my favorite up-and-coming young actors, Will Poulter. Sadori is a large, physically imposing figure, while still having an air of youthful vulnerability. Will Poulter at 6’2″ can certainly portray the physicality of Sadori, and I have no doubt he can play the softer side as well, as we’ve seen this side of him in film before. Also, his height will play well against Kimiko Glenn, who’s only 5’2″, so the differential will look great on the screen. Now for The Dreamers’ leadership:
So Staven…. this was a hard one and is probably most responsible for holding this post up for a few days as I deliberated it. The charismatic-yet-dark leader of The Dreamers first appeared in the amazing novel Rebel Rising by Beth Revis, and popped back up in Inferno Squad as the perceived leader of The Dreamers. I don’t like Staven. I didn’t like him in Rebel Rising and liked him even less in Inferno Squad. Which means the authors did their jobs, because you aren’t supposed to like him. He chided a younger Jyn Erso in Rebel Rising and was a complete asshole in his role as the paranoid and sadistic leader of the remnants of Saw’s band of rebels in Inferno Squad. I went back-and-forth on the actor to portray this pivotal role and almost scrapped the entire post before I had a revelation. I absolutely love the show Halt and Catch Fire, and think it’s one of the most underappreciated shows in recent television history – if you didn’t catch it you should go back and binge it on Netflix. Mark O’Brien plays the role of Tom Rendon in the series and much like Staven, he’s a character you’re supposed to hate. Mark is the man for the job, and he’s a casting choice I’m proud of for being completely out of left field. I have no doubt he would crush it in Inferno Squad as The Dreamers’ leader. Which brings us to the last role I cast for the book…
Casting the amazing Hugh Dancy in the pivotal and mysterious role of The Mentor was almost too easy. I loved him in Hannibal. I loved him in The Path. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen him in. Throughout Inferno Squad we get hints of just who The Mentor is, and it becomes obvious he has a long history in the galactic conflicts of both The Clone Wars and the struggle of the Rebel Alliance versus the Empire. When it’s revealed he’s none other than Lux Bonteri, a character that’s appeared onscreen many times in The Clone Wars animated series, it all makes perfect sense. Although not in control of The Dreamers per se, he is responsible for their intel and in turn the man that’s most wanted by the members of Inferno Squad. Lux has lost more than his fair share throughout the course of the wars, including Saw’s sister, Steela Gerrera, who he was in love with. And don’t forget that Togrutan Jedi he had a thing for as well… The way the story plays out, with Iden beginning to sympathize and possibly fall for him as well is a nice touch, as she lets him live in the end after the Squad kills the rest of The Dreamers. That’s one of the great things about this book that author Christie Golden does so well – showing the gray area of the conflict by having three of the four members of Inferno Squad bonding with members of The Dreamers, with only Gideon Hask abstaining (which also plays well with the campaign mode of the game Battlefront II, for those who’ve played it). But back to the casting. I have little doubt that Hugh Dancy will find his way onto a Star Wars project at some point, but for now, he’s my Lux Bonteri.
So there we have it, my Canon Casting for Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. I highly recommend reading this book or grabbing the audiobook (which as mentioned above is narrated by none other than Janina Gavankar herself), you won’t be disappointed.
Got any feedback for me or want to discuss further? Hit me here and we’ll make it happen. As always, thanks for the support and May the Force Be With You!