The recent news that one of Robert Ludlum‘s novels is getting a big screen treatment got me curious and excited. Ludlum is best known by movie goers for his Bourne series, which was one of the most successful spy franchise in Hollywood.
It’s one of Ludlum’s better books and also with big name talents behind the scenes, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing while Chinese film director Yimou Zhang will be in charge of bringing the book to life; I do hope we get to see a great spy/action thriller without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne attached to it. Also, this will be Zhang’s first American-produced film, I wonder if he can handle the pressure of producing a tent pole type of picture without losing his artistic integrity. I know many foreign born film directors just couldn’t handle the work environment in the Hollywood system.
For this post I’m just going to gloss over the plot of the book, pretty sure it won’t be a direct adaption since the book came out in the early 80s and dealt with the current political climate at the time. I’ll also give my thoughts on who should be cast the main leads and how they can make the story more relevant to our current events. I read the book in college so it’s been a while, I’ll just go over the main storyline since I don’t remember much of it and don’t worry I won’t give out any spoilers, the book has lots plot twists.
The book starts out with an intelligence officer named Michael Havelock witnessing the execution of his partner and lover Jenna Karas in Costa Brava, Spain. Havelock works for the US black ops division called “Consular Ops”, think of the group as the IMF from the Mission: Impossible films or MI:6 in the James Bond flicks. Karas has been marked for execution because she’s apparently a KGB double spy. After witnessing this tragic event, he left the intelligence world and trying to find her killers and seek revenge. He traveled all over Europe and while in Rome, he met up with a top director of the KGB named Pyotr Rostov. Havelock wanted to know why the KGB decided to execute Karas but Rostov denied that she’s even an agent of the KGB. Later he saw Karas at a train station alive and well, but when she saw him, she looks frighten and flees before he can get close to her. He pursues her but she’s nowhere to be found. Now confused and angry, he decided to reach out to his intelligence colleagues so he can find her. While on this search for his lover, he got involved in some political conspiracies, which involves assassinations, shoot outs and everything you’d expect from a spy novel.
The book’s storyline is obviously out of date since it dealt with the cold war of the early 80s. So I’m curious to know how they’re going adapt it into a film that would fit into our current world events. Comparing to other of Ludlum’s books, this one was more a of suspense/romance/thriller than the other books he wrote, most of them were straight up action/adventure. As mentioned earlier, this will probably be Zhang’s first Hollywood film and I think he can incorporate his talents into this movie. He’s done a lot of dramas but also he can do action scenes. Although I don’t recall the book contains any huge action scenes like the Bourne series, but I’m sure the screenwriter will come up with something. After all I’m assuming this will be a $100 mil+ action summer flick. I do hope they make into something different than another James Bond or Jason Bourne rip off, like I said the book was more of a romance and suspense than straight up action thriller.
Casting wise, I would love to see they cast Richard Armitage as Haverlock, if you’ve seen the show MI: 5 or Spooks then you know he’ll be a perfect fit as a spy. But since this is a big budget production, I don’t know if his name is well known enough to get him an audition.
It’s at times like this that I wish I were a casting director! I absolutely concur with Ted’s pick here (natch!) and we both agree that Armitage would make a fine Bond, the ultimate super spy.
I’m re-posting this badge I made for that Bond casting article [he’s now 42]:
I think the fact that he’s played Thorin in The Hobbit makes him a bit more well-known to mainstream US audiences (he’s pretty famous in the UK for his various BBC/Sky TV roles). Besides, I actually think that casting a non mega-star would work better for the role as there’s less *baggage* associated with a movie star.
It’s not just his brooding good looks that make me a fan, but Richard’s got an undeniable screen presence, versatility and that *tough guy with a heart* persona that would suit the romance angle here. I’m absolutely convinced Richard is more than capable to carry the role of Havelock, described per Wiki as “…an exhausted and embittered veteran operative … Brought over to the United States, he proved an invaluable operative for US intelligence.” So he’s basically a brilliant spy, not just an action guy, with a chip on his shoulder.
Here’s a couple of clips from Spooks that prove he’s got the versatility for action as well as dramatic scenes.
Now, if they’re going to cast someone with more fame, then I think Hugh Jackman can play Haverlock. I just hope they don’t go with someone like Tom Cruise, I love Cruise but he’s already Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher, so there’s no need for him to be consider for this role.
The book has a strong female lead and I would love if Rachel Weisz gets the role of Jenna Karas. If not her then maybe my current actress crush, Rachel McAdams.
The main villain in the book is Arthur Pierce, described in Wiki as Ludlum’s most fearsome villains. I think Gary Oldman would be perfect. Oldman’s been playing too many good guys lately, I would love to see him as a villain again.
I’m a sucker for spy thrillers so I’m looking forward to seeing this book comes to the big screen. Of course a spy movie without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne is a hard sell, for example the latest Jack Ryan movie was a massive failure, so hopefully this one won’t suffer the same faith. Now since project is still in early stages, I don’t know if we’ll get to see it on the big screen anytime soon. I mean two other projects that are based on Ludlum’s books has been announced before and they’re still stuck in development hell. One of them is The Matarese Circle which MGM hired David Cronerberg to write and direct while Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise were attached as the leads. The other project is The Chancellor Manuscript which director Marc Forster acquired the rights to direct it and Leo Di Caprio was attached to star in it. Those are two good books that I would love to see the movie version but again they’re still stuck in limbo and I don’t know when we’ll get to see The Parsifal Mosaic. Hopefully sooner than later.
Have you read The Parsifal Mosaic? Whether you have or not, based on the info above, what do you think of our casting choice?
41 thoughts on “Our casting picks for Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Parsifal Mosaic’ Film Adaptation”
Arthur Pierce! I totally forgot the name of the villain, thanks for looking it up on Wiki. I should’ve done that myself. He’s quite intimating villain indeed and that’s why I think Oldman would be perfect. Love your photos of Armitage, he’ll definitely do this role justice. My fear is that since Ron Howard is in charge, he might cast some one that’s totally doesn’t fit the role. I mean he cast Tom Hanks as Langdon and then cast Jarvier Bardem as Roland The Gunslinger. I’m glad the latter film never got made yet and I hope by the time the film gets a green light, Bardem won’t be interested in playing the role anymore, he would’ve been a disaster.
No THANK YOU for doing this awesome post and for thinking Richard would be good to lead it. I might’ve gone overboard w/ the photos/clips etc but really it’s criminal how underused he is in Hollywood. Now that he’s living in NYC I can’t imagine why he’s not considered.
I sure hope that Howard would at least give him an audition!! I don’t know if Richard is even interested though, he might think it’s too similar to Lucas North but oh how it’d make my day (no, year) if he were cast here.
Yeah let’s hope Armitage is interested in the role if say he gets invitation for an audition. My fear is that the filmmakers will make offer to the big A-listers like Clooney or Cruise first before they even consider some lesser known actors. Of course if any of those actors loves the script they would get it and they would certainly want to work with Zhang. Look at what happened to Alec Baldwin, he’s going to reprise his role as Jack Ryan in Patriot Games but Ford wanted the work with McTiernan and forced himself into the role and got it.
It always amazed me that more of Ludlum’s novels didn’t get film adaptations (though The Bourne Identity and The Rhinemann Exchange did get TV miniseries adaptations back in the day). Perhaps studios became wary after translations like The Osterman Weekend didn’t exactly pan out — Sam Peckinpah’s flawed but interesting paycheck film of that Ludlum novel. I’ve read most of those you’ve mentioned here, Ted. I always thought some of them the author himself kinda pre-casted the leads by reading his character’s descriptions. The Matarese Circle always seemed a project that Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery were a tailor made tandem when it debuted back in 1979 (at least by Ludlum’s thinking). Thanks, Ted.
Yeah I know, since the Bourne films were so successful, I’m surprised that his other books haven’t made into films yet. I really liked Peckinpah’s The Osterman Weekend adaptation but yeah I think Hollywood looked at that film and thought that Ludlum’s books just aren’t marketable enough. Hopefully one of the three projects I mentioned would be a huge hit and then we’ll get to see more of his books comes to the big screen. One of my favorite books of his is The Prometheus Deception, which I thought for sure Hollywood would turn into a movie fast but seems like no one is interested.
Most of Ludlum’s books are like screenplays since they’re so easy to read and the plot are more in line with Hollywood films than other spy novels. You know I can definitely see both Eastwood and Connery as the leads in The Matarese Circle, too bad they’re way too old for the roles now. I don’t know if both Washington and Cruise are still attached to the project but I was excited mostly for Cronerberg involvement, this would be his first big budget action picture.
“…the author himself kinda pre-casted the leads by reading his character’s descriptions” I agree, but the studio managed to ignore ’em completely, i.e. Jack Reacher, ahah.
So now the big question is Michael, do you think Richard would be good in this role? 😉
Yeah, I think he’d be just fine in a vehicle like this. Finger’s crossed he’d get a solid script ;-).
Yes fingers crossed indeed! It’ll be intriguing to see Yimou tackling this though, it’ll give it an International flair for sure, plus it’ll be beautifully-shot!
I like a lot of Yimou’s stuff so I’ll be interested in seeing how this turns out.
Let’s hope he cast a good lead actor first of all, I think that’d be a good first step!
I don’t know the book, but I’m always happy to see Weisz or McAdams. Not knowing any of the characters, I have no idea whether or not Armitage could manage the role, but I’d be happy to find out. 🙂
Well, we gave you the book description of the story and character… and evidence that Armitage could do it. I think we made a pretty good case for him 😉
You did at that, but it is also a rapid summary. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “not knowing anything.” Perhaps I should have said, “knowing very little.” 🙂
And the strength of your case is why I’m happy to find out. 🙂
I knew very little about it too until Ted pointed it out, but even just from reading the excerpt I’m so on board w/ this film. Hopefully the script turns out good of course. I might even buy the novel before the film opens 😀
I might read it too. I always like reading the book first (same reason I just read the first Divergent novel).
Nice piece of work!
I read The Parsifal Mosaic ages ago. And for Ludlum. it wasn’t bad. Though not a lot of Ludlum adapts well to the screen. Substituting action of even more convoluted plots. Decent flicks to turn off the brain and take in better than average “Shoot ’em up!”.
Still waiting patiently for a faithful film adaptation of any of Ross Thomas’ later novels.
I was quite disappointed with the adaptation of The Bourne Identity the first time I saw the movie since it’s nothing like the book. But I warmed up to it later and I really the sequels, especially The Bourne Supremacy.
Sounds like a very interesting project. I’m not familiar with the material at all. So with what little I know, I would love to see Guy Pierce handle the lead. I’m a huge fan of his and he is criminally underappreciated.
Hey Keith, you know I wouldn’t mind seeing Guy Pierce in the role either. He’s such an underrated actor and in the right age for this character.
Ok so if Richard turned it down I wouldn’t mind Pierce get the role 😉 I actually prefer him than his fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman, I agree he’s very underrated.
I’ve not seen a lot of Richard Armitage but from I have seen I think he’d make a very competent lead. Good choice Ted! Like you mention though, producers do like a “star” and Tom Cruise’s recent portrayal of Jack Reacher shows he has what it takes for this sort of thing but maybe he’d be tied up with the Reacher sequel(s). I’d prefer a newcomer to be honest…
I love your choice for leading lady – Weisz wouldn’t have any trouble bringing gravitas to such a role. Rachel McAdams is good too (she showed in Red Eye that she can handle herself in an action role).
Good stuff Ted and Ruth – I haven’t read the book but it’s definitely something I’d be interested in seeing on the big screen.
Hi Dan! I take it you’ve seen Spooks and Strike Back? He’s definitely competent and the romance aspect would be perfect for him as well. Yes I much prefer a newcomer as well, he’d bring a fresh take to this role.
I REALLY love Weisz and this would be a chance to see her in a Bond-girl type role but she’d infuse it with intelligence as well as sex appeal, a la Vesper Lynd.
Thanks Dan! Yeah studios will always go for the A-list star first for any potential franchise or tent pole pictures and I don’t blame them. With the failures of John Carter and Battleship, two expensive movies with an unknown lead Taylor Kitsch, it’s going to difficult for them to gamble their money an unknown actor. But with good talents behind the cameras, I hope they would trust whoever those guys pick to be the lead.
Hi Ted and Ruth,
Love your post. From your description of the book, I think Richard Armitage would be perfect in the role and what a great opportunity for him to once again work with a great director. I hope Ron Howard is reading your post right now! Armitage also has a large fan following around the world so he also brings that to any film he’s cast in.
I agree with what you’re saying about Guy Pierce, another very underused actor. Don’t know why that is. Maybe he needs a breakthrough role that will get him noticed at last.
Hi MyrL! Thanks for being the first Armitage Army (and only?) who commented 😀 I think the romance aspect made it an even better fit for Richard. It’s not just another spy thriller, at least not on paper. Having Yimou directing this would certainly be very intriguing as his films usually have a love story interwoven w/ the high-flying action.
I like Guy Pierce but I still prefer Richard in this role, oh wouldn’t that be nice!! Really if I won the lottery, instead of buying things I’d start a production company so I can hire my fave actors 😀
Ha ha yeah I do hope Ron Howard this article, he’s awful at choosing a leading man for films based on popular books. Tom Hanks is not Robert Langdon and Jarvier Bardem is not The Gunslinger. With the upcoming final Hobbit film, I do hope Armitage star power will rise since he’ll be a central character in the movie again.
Hey Ted I don’t know if you noticed but I actually tweeted Howard this article. Of course the chance is slim that he’d actually read it but who knows, maybe he got curious who this Richard Armitage is and actually get his people to contact him. A girl can dream 😉
Oh really? Nice, I don’t even know Howard is on Twitter. Yeah maybe he’s curious and read this article. This is reason hope my casting movie site will do, we the movie fans don’t have a say in casting but we can still use our voices when it comes to who we want to play a certain role in films.
The Bourne series still remains my favorite spy-series, (I’m not counting the recent Jeremy Renner one) even more than Bond! Excellent casting ideas you made there. I’d especially love it if McAdams made the role. Its her chance to break out of the rom-com stereotype she has right now.
Hi Asrap! I love Bourne too but this sounds like more of a drama instead of a straight action thriller which is what I love about it. I’d be happy with either actress being cast but would be beside myself if Richard were cast. He’s sooo perfect for this!
I’m casting Michael Fassbender as the lead and the villain–how about Joaquin Phoenix? For the lady, both choices are okay. Still, for something different, I’d like to see an Asian play the role like Jamie Chung or Maggie Q.
I kinda think Fassy is a bit overrated these days. I do like the idea of Joaquin as villain though. Ooooh I LOVE the idea of an Asian villain, not enough of my race as it is in Hollywood 😦 I’d think even Gong Li (who’s still very sexy at 48) or Zhang Ziyi opposite Richard would be fantastic! Thanks Cindy.
Hey Cindy, I like Fassbender too but I want him to star in another spy novel that’s having a hard time making it to the big screen, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. Since he’s becoming a brand name in Hollywood now, I won’t be surprised if he gets an offer to do this role. I like your idea of Phoenix as the villain too but I think he might be too young for this character but they can always write him to be younger for the film version.
Also, I never thought of changing the nationality of the female lead, I think that would be a good idea considering the current political climate. Heck they did similar thing for The Bourne Identity, in the book Marie was a Canadian business woman but in the movie they changed her into a German/Gypsie.
Hey Ted, Gong Li or Zhang Ziyi could be a Chinese spy who defected and thus became a target. I think the International flair would make it even more intriguing!!
Yeah, I can see those two actresses in the role and with an Asian director he might want to include Asian actors in the movie.
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I remember reading this when you first posted and I went about to read more about Parsifal Mosaic since I remember gobbling up everything Ludlum back in the day (was grounded so often that I read to pass the time while friends partied all weekend) – and only realized that I had not commented later on – so sorry this is late.
I hope Richard Armitage is at least on the list of actors they’ll consider for the role of Havelock. He really needs to get out of Thorin’s shadow, and needs to pound the pavement, so to speak, because Hollywood peeps have such short memory recall. It would be nice to see a “new” face instead of the usual ones that we’ve been seeing for the past 5 -1 0 years. I also like the idea of Maggie Q being on the big screen.
As for Guy Pearce, I agree with @keith7198. He’s so criminally underrated and I’d love to see him in something like this as well.
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