We’re back with another installment in our ongoing fan casting series, Canon Casting! If you’re unfamiliar, we take a canon, non-film project, assign a budget to it, and cast it! Aside from our podcast, Canon Casting gets the most feedback from fans and we are so stoked you guys like them! For today’s update, I am going to keep it short and sweet, and fan cast a novel that flies under the radar for most fans, but one that is among the best – Battlefront: Twilight Company! If you’re unfamiliar with Canon Casting, here’s how it works:
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 Twilight Company I’ve chosen the route of a premium, direct-to-consumer movie (i.e. Disney Now, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, etc.) OK, let’s get to it:
There are a TON of characters in Twilight Company, but not a lot of major ones. For this update I’ve focused on the ten characters I feel made the most impact on the story and/or left the largest impression on me after running through the book a few times. Let’s start with a couple of the minor members of Twilight Company, but two that made an impression on me:
Roach and Pol ‘Charmer’ Andrisius:
For the role of recovering spice addict and new Twilight Company ‘fresh meat’ recruit Roach, I tapped up-and-coming actress Analisse Basso. I recently watched Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime, and while the series itself was up-and-down, I loved Annalisse’s performance in the episode Safe and Sound. The role of Roach is small-but-important, and I have no doubts that Annalisse will be amazing playing the part. For veteran company member Pol ‘Charmer’ Andrisius, I went with a leftfield kind of choice (which I’m known to do..) in Doug Savant. Charmer is a battle-hardened solder for the Rebellion who’s good looks were marred by an explosion a few years back. While he still carries the nickname Charmer, it’s obvious those days are long past for him. I’ve always liked Savant, sue me. Based on his previous work I have no doubts that he will step right into the role of Charmer and perform admirably.
Gadren and Brand:
For the pivotal roles of Brand and Gadren, two of Twilight Company’s veteran members, I am tapping Aisha Hinds and Terry Crews (in a voice/mo-cap performance). Brand, the former bounty hunter-turned rebel, and Gadren, the gruff Besalisk warrior, both play important roles in not only the action but also the character arc and development of our main protagonist, Hazram Namir (more on him in a bit). I first came across Hinds in True Blood, and quite frankly she’s the first actress that came to mind when I was listening to the Twilight Company audiobook. Brand is a reluctant leader who does so by example, and I would be stoked to have Hinds in this role. Since a Besalisk is a large, four-armed alien (think Dexter Jettster from Attack of the Clones), the character of Gadren would certainly have to be brought to life via motion capture. In the audiobook Gadren is Namir’s compass in regards to how and when to do the right thing. And although Jonathan Davis’ (the narrator of the audiobook) performance is deep and commanding, I decided to go a slightly different route and tap retired NFL player and an accomplished actor in his own right, Terry Crews. I think Crews would deliver on both the gruff mentor role that Gadren provides to Namir, but would also lighten the role up a bit from the portrayal in the audiobook. If you follow Canon Casting you know that I will take a chance out of left field once in a while, and this would probably qualify here.
Thara Nyende was a stormtrooper on her homeworld of Sullust and is yet another prime example of allowing the readers to get inside the head of the everyday men and women under the employ and in service of the Empire, something the stable of authors Lucasfilm is employing for their new canon stories is excelling at. We see that she is shunned by many of the locals of Sullust who oppose the oppression of the Empire, yet still feels a sense of duty to fulfill what she believes is right. In the end, it blows up in her face and Nyende is left to face some hard truths about war and the galaxy… For this role, I went with up-and-coming actress Taylor Hickson, best known for her role in the TV series Aftermath. I would love to see the lives of female troopers and officers explored a bit deeper in future on-screen Star Wars projects, and for our Canon Casting series Taylor as Thara would be a great place to start!
Micha ‘Howl’ Evon:
As the battle-hardened founding member and leader of Twilight Company, Micha ‘Howl’ Evon, I went with the no-brainer choice of veteran screen and film actor Scott Glenn. Glenn needs absolutely no introduction, and he’s the very first name and face that came to mind when I first heard Jonathan Davis’ portrayal of the reserved and calculating Captain. Our main protagonist, Hazram Namir, doesn’t always understand how and why Howl made decisions for Twilight Company, and it was this brand of leadership that gives our hero the foundation he needs to step in and lead the battalion once Howl is cut down at Echo Base on Hoth by none other than Darth Vader. Hell, if any actor in Hollywood deserves an on-screen death by the most famous Dark Lord of the Sith in the galaxy it’s Scott Glenn!
Prelate Verge and Captain Tabor Seitaron:
Now we are getting down to the meat and potatoes of this edition of Canon Casting, as we tackle the two main antagonists of the book, the young Prelate Verge and the former Academy Instructor and present Captain, Tabor Seitaron. The latter was easy – as I love Mitch Pileggi. The man needs no introduction to any fans of the sci-fi genre, as he portrayed FBI Director Skinner on The X-Files for a decade. Seitaron is a man who is at the end of his career and certainly doesn’t like being put under the incredibly young and ambitious Prelate Verge, at least at first. However, as the story progresses he learns to appreciate and respect the youthful leader but has to make a difficult decision in the end regarding that relationship… And that leaves us with Prelate Verge. Young. Very young. Brash. Ambitious the point of considering to scar is visage to more closely resemble Emperor Palpatine. I had a few actors in mind for this role, but I decided Freddie Highmore of Bates Motel fame was the man for the job. Equal parts babyfaced and psychotic in his portrayal of Norman Bates on the show, there is no doubt in my mind he would crush it in the role of Verge.
Governor Everi Chalis:
I absolutely love the character of Everi Chalis. In fact, she’s one of my favorite new characters created within the rebooted canon. Beautiful, cunning, and scorned, the former member of the Imperial Ruling Council and Governor of Haidoral Prime, Chalis is a force to be reckoned with – a force who’s introduction into Twilight Company’s ranks wreaks havoc on the destiny of the battalion and its members. For this role, I chose Lara Pulver, who I first saw playing Irene Adler on Sherlock opposite Benedict Cumberbatch. Her initial episode of that show is quite possibly one of the best entries of any television show in history, and I immediately thought of her when I heard the part of Everi Chalis for the first time – so much so that I don’t think I even considered anyone else! For this role, you have to have a beautiful actress that equal parts vulnerable and ruthless, and Pulver is THE choice. Period.
The role of Hazram Namir, the main character in Battlefront: Twilight Company, goes to Ricky Whittle. Best known for his roles on The 100 and American Gods, Whittle is, in my opinion, the best choice for Namir. Hailing from the war-torn world of Crucival, Namir joins Twilight Company after a gruesome battle on his homeworld left him with nothing left to fight for there. A capable soldier, Namir learns leadership as the novel progresses, eventually assuming control of Twilight Company after its leadership is decimated on Hoth. Whittle has the combination of rugged good looks, charisma, and an edge to bring the role of Namir to life on the screen, and I for one would absolutely love to see it happen!
There it is, short and sweet – my Canon Casting of Battlefront: Twilight Company. As I mentioned this book has really flown under the radar for most fans, even those who are all-in on the rebooted canon, and that’s a shame. I for one loved getting down and dirty with the members of Twilight Company, and I have little doubt you’ll enjoy the book as well. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for a couple more additions to Canon Casting, as I have some rad stuff in the works!