How Do I Get Paul Rudd?

One thing writers like to do is cast the movie version of their own books. It’s especially fun when you have absolutely no sign of a movie deal on the horizon. At any rate, people have asked me before who I’d see playing various people in The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. And I’ve typically been stumped with the part of Father Steve.

Vicky, I always sort of saw as Jennifer Aniston. Don’t judge me.

But Father Steve? George Clooney’s too old and John Krasinski was too tall (and goofy) for my liking. Then, yesterday, while walking up Third Avenue, I saw a movie poster and Paul Rudd’s face was on it.

It’s totally him. I think. Someone make that happen.

Anyone else who read the book, who’d you cast in the various parts?

Miss Rita’s tough as well. Only person I can kinda come up with is Alfree Woodard. Someone who can play older and pull of comedy as well as gravitas. Problem is I picture Miss Rita as pretty skinny. (One Facebook, someone suggested Wanda Sykes, which I kind of dig. You know how comedians like that crossover dramatic roles)

Brother Paul. Hmmm. Robert Duvall. But he’s getting up in age. Maybe John Goodman?

34 thoughts on “How Do I Get Paul Rudd?

  1. Catherine and I both agree that Paul Rudd is our “bags packed” situation.

    Excellent choice for Father Steve. Hot, intellectual, charming, boyish, humble.

  2. Oh, I’m totally buying Paul Rudd as Father Steve. To me, the man can do no wrong – he is hilarious with amazing comedic timing. Have you seen him in ‘I Love You, Man’? Paul Rudd is someone children and little old ladies will adore. Also, I already love him (see Nichole’s comment above).

  3. Alfre Woodard? Wanda Sykes? Isnt this woman posed to be 100???? Pretty sure both those women will be fixin to stab you in the throat for putting them up to play a centagenarian, or however you spell that word.

  4. I’m digging on the Paul Rudd. Sweet, goofy, handsome, & smart. Can’t really even picture anyone else now.

    I really like Alfre Woodard for Miss Rita, but what about getting Angela Bassett to play waay older than her age? Spunky & strong as hell.

    In my humble opinion, Aniston doesn’t have enough spine to play Vicky. What about Diane Lane or Charlize Theron (though she’s maybe too good looking)? Elizabeth Banks?

    Father Mark Johnson – If it can’t be Ryan Reynolds, I will cry. A good backup is Jason Lewis.

    For B.P.: man I always pictured him as a charming, all American gone to seed a bit. How about Jeff Bridges (BP abides). Or go for the funny: what about Brad Pitt with a gut?

  5. I just finished reading The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival… It was outstanding. Props to the illustration by Tim O’Brien.. it really caught my eye at the bookstore–and I’m glad that it did.

    Paul Rudd is a perfect pick for Father Steve.

    I’m looking forward to reading more from you. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  6. Dawn,
    How many 117-year-old women do you know working in the business? That’s what I thought.

    I’ve heard Angela Bassett is a pain to work with. Lane might be a little too old now? She also just spent half a year filming in Opelousas, so might not be ready for more of that. Theron’s too good looking.

    But oh my god, Ryan Reynolds. YES! And I could get behind Elizabeth Banks (heh).

    Thanks for reading. Glad you liked the book

  7. He may be a little on the young side, but I was picturing Colin Hanks as Father Steve as I read it.

  8. I retract my “a little on the young side” statement. I just checked imdb–Colin Hanks is in his early thirties. He’s perfect. What are the ages of Steve and Vicky? Because it seems like you are going a little high on the age range. Jennifer Aniston is a shriveled prune. Gross. (Though that assessment has more to do with with her closed off attitude than her age.)

  9. I think Hanks could work. Certainly not too old.

    And I didn’t want to sound mean, ageist or anything, but Aniston might be too old as well.

    And quit picking on her! (Have a soft spot for her for some reason.)

  10. That is not ageist! She is too old; it’s a fact, not discrimination.

    I’m still working on other casting. I was picturing Eartha Kitt as I read Miss Rita, and that’s gonna be a little tough since she’s dead. There’s some other older actress who looks similar to her though I don’t know her name and I’m not sure Google’s search function is good enough for me to put in “who’s that old black lady who looks sorta like Eartha Kitt but not really and I saw her in that movie one time” and get the result I’m after.

  11. Mrs Rita should be played by Betty White, slap a little of the face paint on her like they did with robert downey jr. in tropic thunder!

  12. I think Cicely Tyson would be perfect as Miss Rita. She was born in 1933, but she’s still working, and is in a movie this year, “Why Did I Get Married Too.” In 1974, she won two Emmys for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittnam,” playing an 110-year-old former slave. Another age appropriate casting would be Ruby Dee (b. 1924), nominated for an Oscar for “American Gangster.” These are two of the greatest and most respected film actors ever.

  13. It would be interesting to cast R. Lee Ermey as BP & stress the church as a Full Gospel, Holy Ghost-filled, Pentecostal Holiness (or non-denominational) church. It’d be VERY IMPORTANT not to spoof the religious sect, but to give it an honest portrayal to keep from getting sued or boycotted (which might not be a bad thing) & to give “outsiders” an honest look inside. (Anyone see the documentary Jesus Camp?) You REALLY need a scene-stealer in the role of BP.

    What about Jason Ritter for Father Steve? He has the awkward and coy mannerisms of someone who can be pushed around easily and the boyish appearance that comes with having spent years around priests learning how to be sex-less.

    TOM HANKS for Father Mark! I saw him interviewed somewhere and he had this laid-back, raunchy, bad-influence stance the whole time. It was hilarious!

    I vote for Catherine Keener as Vicky. I can’t remember if Vicky’s age was specifically revealed in the novel, but I always pictured her noticeably older (20 years?) than Father Steve. For the film role, I think showing an age difference between Vicky & Steve would provide an extra visual layer of tension and “wrongness” (since the churchgoing South still operate in a traditional and genteel manner) to their sexual desire (as though a sexually-active Priest isn’t enough).

    — For BP’s “sexually confused” son, it depends on if you’re wanting someone that “looks gay” or some dirty good ‘ole boy redneck guy that no one would expect being able to hook up with ANYONE of any gender. Here’s a list of possibles: Macaulay Culkin, DJ Qualls, Patton Oswalt, John Mayer (wouldn’t THAT be hilarious!), Danny McBride, John C. Reilly (with R. Lee Ermey as BP, Reilly would work).

    And to all those discounting certain actors due to age differentiation: Make-up! I still cannot believe Tom Cruise was Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. Wanda Sykes’ is a great choice for Miss Rita because she has that timeless spunk to her voice where everything she says is funny. Rita also needs to be a scene-stealer.

  14. Chloe Sevigny and Steve Buscemi. Are we making an idie in 1996? 🙂 I’m a fan of Buscemi, but I don’t see him playing Southern … or a priest.

    Oh, but how about Buscemi as the carnie? (Though I pictured someone burlier. And with red hair)

    Reid, great ideas. (Doesn’t surprise me that you’d come up with a couple).

    Seth, I’m sure Betty White would do a lot for comedy, but I don’t think she’d go that far.

    Jason, I love Keener. To be honest, I’d been thinking of Steve, Vicky and Mark as all the same age, but it’s interesting how an exercise like this opens it up.

    Now I want to get Matthew McConaughey in there somehow. Just to have him with his shirt off and saying, “All right, all right, all right.”

  15. I too pictured Rita as a skinny ole lady. You may have to find someone local and give her a one time shot at the pic screen. I suggest you start your search in Plaisance and Belaire Cove.

    Or, you could just get Eddie Murphy to play all of them. Just Sayin

  16. Yeah, I started reading the book thinking of Steve, Vicky and Mark as the same age too. Then Mark got older and more jaded. Then it starting feeling like Mark & Vicky were close in age and Steve was younger by 10 or 20 years, thereby intensifying him as the outsider & newcomer not only to the area, but to the role of priest (since Mark & Vicky both know more about the practicalities of being a priest than he & become mentors for him).

    How about McConaughey as BP’s gay son? He fills both the dirty good ‘ole redneck boy role and can play narcissist well enough to cause Southerners to question his sexuality.

    Imagine this scene: Use a tripod and don’t cut, zoom, or pan to different views of what’s happening within the frame, just focus the lens on whatever is taking center stage in the dialogue and leave everything in frame (though blurred) the whole scene.

    Put the congregation building the church in the background (hammering sounds, etc.) while McConaughey tans on a lawn chair in front of the church (maybe holding one of those silver folding sun reflectors on his chest) and in the foreground BP is talking with Father Steve about all the progress on the building.

    That’d be a great scene! And it would open up Steve’s curiosity (even if unexplored) about BP’s son seeming out of place in that environment. Then, when he’s shown the tape, he could remember that scene (flashback?) and be easily convinced.

    AND, McConaughey fits perfectly as R. Lee Ermey’s son!

  17. Okay, I’ve been thinking about this one a good bit. I like Colin Hanks as Father Steve. I think he could do the emotional scenes much better than Paul Rudd.

    For Father Mark, Nick Swardson.

    Vicky, Evangeline Lilly. She’s got that tom boy persona that the role needs.

    All three of them are the same age with Evangeline being a bit younger.

    Brother Paul, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Chubby, Charming with a whole lot of crazy underneath.

    And as Miss Rita, Maya Rudolph. A good make-up job and she would steal that movie away.

    Just for the love of god make sure that they speak normally. The parishioners can put on thick cajun accents, but anyone else and I will riot.

    Oh and you have to work the song “Effigy” by Andrew Bird into the movie. I’m thinking during Steve’s epiphany. Sunset, and a crane shot of Steve alone sitting by the bayou him and Vicky sat by.

  18. Corey, some good choices. But Maya Rudolph? No way. She’d have to put on as much black makeup as Betty White would.

  19. I know this sounds like an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, but I like Jason Segel as Father Steve and Neil Patrick Harris as Mark.

    Vicky, a little tomboyish, maybe Piper Perabo. Pretty, but with a tough edge.

  20. I stand by Maya Rudolph. She can nail the comedy and I think she never got enough credit as an actress. As for her complexion, if she was hired by a family back when it was appropriate to call people “the help” it would stand to reason they would be comfortable with a housekeeper that closely resembled their own features. Besides, Morgan Freeman played an Irish guy named “Red” and no one complained.

  21. Corey,
    I’ll give ground . I think on Miss Rita’s height and weight — and the ages of the other characters. But she’s described specifically as being extremely black — in her younger days “almost to the point of purple” I believe.
    And while a family may have hired a light-skinned black one, the racial dynamic between them and, more importantly, in her own life among her own people, would have been drastically different.

    Also, Maya Rudolph’s boobs are too big.

  22. So it’s between Grace Jones and the chick that used to do the Benneton ads?

    You leave Maya’s boobs to me. We could Hilary Swank them all up.

    My last recommendation for Ms. Rita, Cate Blanchett. Just because she can do anything.

  23. Somebody beat me to Cicely Tyson; she was my obvious choice for Miss Rita, but she might be just that–too obvious. Diane Lane is Teh Awesome but too old for Paul Rudd. Joey Lauren Adams is also a bit Obvious, but that’s the type I’m thinking–somebody with more spunk than traditional movie looks. Too pretty and the whole thing’s too syrupy and obvious, like Where the Heart Is was. That movie was saved by James Frain alone.

  24. Okay, well, Diane Lane’s only got four years on Rudd, but he’s babyfaced so I still don’t think it would work.

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