Badass Digest is made up of a bunch of nerds, as you might have noticed, and many of us are Stephen King nerds in particular. Some of those nerds (not even all of BAD's Stephen King nerds) worked together to fan-cast Josh Boone's upcoming four-movie adaptation of King's epic novel The Stand. Here we go:
Stu Redman / Dan Stevens
Obviously, the popular choice here is Matthew McConaughey, but come on: that's about as boringly on-the-nose as Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange. For Stu, Boone's going to need someone with charisma, someone who can transition into a believable leader for the people of the Free Zone. He's also gotta be believable as a halfway-folksy/halfway-rough and tumble Texan, a guy who looks equally comfortable in a fistfight and sitting on a porch drinking Lone Star. He's one of the three or four major leads of the film, so he's gotta have the goods to go toe-to-toe with some other heavy-hitters, and he's gotta have a broadly appealing screen presence. With all of that in mind, my choice here is The Guest's Dan Stevens.
His role in The Guest requires him to pull off a tonal balancing act that, while not required for Stu Redman, certainly speaks to his abilities as an actor. Within single scenes, Stevens proves himself able to pivot between any number of emotions and acting styles. You want that "yes, ma'am/no, ma'am" brand of Texas folksiness? He can do it. You want Stu Redman to keep calm under pressure, to be believable as a leader? Stevens can do it. You want an actor who's equally appealing to the ladies and the gents? Stevens is easy on the eyes, enormously likable and would be happy to sit on that porch drinking Lone Star with you, brah. We could hand this role out to any number of obvious choices (your Matthew McConaugheys, your Josh Brolins, your Woody Harrelsons), but I'd rather see some new blood in there. And after The Guest, I'd definitely like to see more of Stevens. My man's got the chops to be a big star, and a showy role in The Stand would probably put him right over the top.
Trashcan Man / Casey Affleck
I rewatched The Assassination of Jesse James not long ago, for the first time in maybe three or four years. I had remembered Affleck being supremely awkward in the film - all fidgety and stuttery and whatnot - but what I hadn't remembered was how unsettling he is in the role. There's a scene near the beginning of that film where the James Gang hangs out in the woods in preparation for a train robbery, and Affleck's Robert Ford goes from one member of the gang to another, desperate to fit in. No one knows quite what to do with the guy, though; while he's capable of taking part in the James Gang's various criminal hijinks, there's something inherently freaky about the dude, so social interactions are an absolute nightmare. Watching Affleck in these scenes, you wanna crawl right out of your skin. He's creepy as shit.
Using The Assassination of Jesse James as a touchstone for Affleck's ability to play creepy, I'm slotting him into the cast as Trashcan Man. It's difficult to imagine anyone else in the role after Matt Frewer (Max Headroom himself!) nailed the part in Mick Garris' miniseries adaptation - he was one of the better casting choices in that version - but I think Affleck would bring a different kind of menace to the character, enough to set him apart from Frewer's take on Trashy. Affleck could nail the insanity of the role as well as the dark comedy the part would call for (just picture Casey Affleck feverishly muttering to himself as he sets fire to a set of massive gas tanks). I definitely wanna hear this dude whisper, "My life for you."
Tom Cullen / Jesse Plemons
I really struggled with this one. Like Matt Frewer's Trashcan Man, Tom Cullen was pretty much nailed by Coach's Tom Fagerbakke in the Mick Garris adaptation. I picture Tom, and I see a big, dumb lummox in overalls, quizzically staring off into the middle distance out from under a mop of blonde hair. For a while I tried going for something else entirely - a wiry, nervous, dark-haired bumpkin with a less imposing physicality, and I pictured Sam Rockwell pulling this off. But is Sam Rockwell simple-looking enough? There's a cunning to that dude's face, and I don't see that meshing well with Tom. With Tom, you can leave or remove the overalls, the blonde hair and the size, but you really should maintain that sense of sweet idiocy. And with that in mind, I quickly arrived at Jesse Plemons.
Because I never watched Friday Night Lights, the first time I encountered Plemons was on AMC's Breaking Bad, where he played a sociopath by the name of Todd. At first glance, I admit I dismissed Plemons as yet another in the long line of less-talented Matt Damon clones currently being bred in Hollywood (see also: Taylor Lautner, that guy in The Maze Runner), but Plemons' work on Breaking Bad quickly disabused me of that notion. Plemons is good - really good. Even in Todd's worst moments, he was able to invest the character with an undercurrent of naive sweetness, and he quickly became one of my favorite parts of the show. He's an endearing presence, and a lot of that has to do with the way Plemons looks. True, he might be a little too young for the character as originally written in King's novel, but I don't think the age matters much: Tom just needs to be simple, sweet and able to pass himself off as a bad guy when it comes time to slip behind enemy lines in The Stand's final act. I think Plemons is the guy for the job.
Fran Goldsmith / Brie Larson
It was really difficult for me to get some of the miniseries casting out of my head, but when I sat back and thought about it while reading the book, Brie Larson instantly came to mind. She's just got this beautiful ease about her that allows you to readily empathize with her characters. Larson is also really versatile, able to play maternal and kind-hearted, but also fierce and confrontational. Her performance in Short Term 12 speaks to this immense talent and holds the kind of qualities I'd like to see in someone who plays Frannie.
Randall Flagg / Matthew Goode
Okay, hear me out. Or maybe go watch Stoker and then I won't need to convince you. Matthew Goode is able to play charismatic and unsettling in the same breath; he can play quiet and charming and then erupt into angry, manic outbursts. These are all things we want in Randall Flagg. When reading his character, he comes off as charismatic and calm, seducing people with his words, and then suddenly lashing out in these fits of rage that always seem to be bubbling beneath the surface. Goode is exactly this type. Also he is very handsome, which you maybe think doesn't matter, but I think it's sort of necessary in order to draw people to him, especially Nadine. Humans are very visual, and I think we need to see that Randall is attractive instead of just being told that he's a guy who has the ability to gather people like the Pied Piper. But when Goode plays a bad guy, you kind of feel bad for thinking he's sexy. This is also a plus.
Glenn Bateman / Jeffrey Wright
When I was initially reading through the book, I kept picturing Brian Cox as Glen Bateman, the older, retired professor with his dog. I could even hear Cox's voice in my head reading all of Glen's lines. It just made so much sense to me. But I've thought about this some more, and I think casting Jeffrey Wright is the only way to go, partially because I enjoy seeing him in scholarly roles where he gets to deliver exposition, and partially because he rules and it would be awesome. Put Jeffrey Wright in some glasses and let him talk about philosophy for an hour in the midst of the apocalypse. That sounds like a great time to me.
Larry Underwood / Justin Timberlake
Larry's a young, handsome, cocky singer who begins his journey as selfish and immature and eventually grows into quite the hero. Timberlake's got the young, handsome and cocky down, for sure, and he can obviously sing. But I think he's also got the chops to really sell Larry's journey to us, from an upstart whose success overwhelms him quite suddenly (a feeling with which Timberlake can probably relate) to a noble, generous man who learns that his life is worth something beyond his own gratification.
Nadine Cross / Eva Green
There's something a bit wild about Eva Green, and that's why I love her. I've long held that she would be perfect for Nadine Cross, that fiercely private woman who believes she must preserve her virginity for some dark purpose. Green not only looks the part, but she feels right, with an innate sensuality that is sometimes at odds with her intensity. She's a knockout, she's a badass and she's also just a little bit terrifying. I can think of no one better.
Nick Andros / Misha Collins
I once believed that Misha Collins (best known as Castiel on Supernatural) would make a good Stu, but I now bow to Scott's choice and his legendary iliac crest. Collins would be better as the deaf and mute Nick Andros, anyway - he can express so much with those cutting eyes, and his face has a natural weary heroism to it that suits Nick's own reluctance to take the role of leader at the prison and later with Tom.
Mother Abigail / Cicely Tyson
It’s not going to be easy for anyone to give us a better Mother Abigail than the one we got from Ruby Dee. But if anyone has that power, it’s Cicely Tyson. Those of you who aren’t up on their Tyler Perry might not know how strange Tyson has become as a deliverer of lines lately, but it’s really something to behold. She has that sage-like power Mother Abigail requires, but also that weirdness that seems both otherworldly and keeps you from knowing if she’s 100% on top of her shit or just making it up as she goes along. My second choice, of course, IS Tyler Perry.
Lloyd Henreid / Titus Welliver
There are probably a ton of actors who could play this petty criminal who ends up being Randall Flagg’s right hand man. Of that bunch, I’m going with Titus Welliver. There’s no doubt he can portray a threatening figure, and he looks natural whether dressed down or dressed up. But mostly there’s just something likable about him. Even when he’s at his worst, you sort of want to be on his side, which might be useful once Lloyd starts questioning Flagg’s actions.
Harold Lauder / Miles Teller
Harold’s a tough one. Do you make him fat? Do you worry about getting his youth across? Or do you just rely on hardcore nerdom as the TV movie did with Corin Nemec?
So here’s what you do. Take Miles Teller, a handsome, charming fellow, and put some Big Macs under his chin. Get him some horn-rimmed glasses. Let him do that good acting everyone talks about. It’s a bit outside of the box (okay, it’s way outside the box), but the more I think about it the more I like it. You all know I’m a weirdo, so there’s no reason to hide it now.
All right - we did ours. Now you do yours.