You better believe that there are a few SPOILERS BELOW,
so if you haven't read the book click over to Amazon and pick it up.
|Henry Dorsett Case||Edward Norton|
|Linda Lee||Kate Hudson|
|Julius Deane||M. Emmet Walsh|
|McCoy "Dixie" Pauley||James Caan|
|Peter Riviera||Liev Schreiber|
|Maelcum||Harold Perrineau, Jr.|
|Ashpool||Max Von Sydow|
|Wintermute||Ken Nordine (voice)|
|Neuromancer||Laurie Anderson (voice)|
|Directed by||Chris Cunningham|
|Effects by||ILM, Digital Domain, and probably about 50 other shops|
This particular DreamCast was brought to you by Ez and Widge.
Why Neuromancer? It's been in the works for years. Eons, it feels like. With this book, William Gibson basically began a genre that self-destructed, because everything had pretty much been said. And don't think that people haven't tried to make films about it. The regrettable Johnny Mnemonic was based on a Gibson short story which even had some of the characters from this novel. Matrix was born out of the same primordial muck as this book. So basically what we're doing is going back to the primary source material.
What's the scoop? If you haven't read the novel yet, you should do so. It's kinda like Blade Runner on crack. Visually speaking, it's everything Matrix was and then some. If done correctly, it could be the next big science fiction cinematic landmark.
Here's the setup. A former cowboy (i.e., a hacker on speed) named Case is recruited by a mysterious man by the name of Armitage who wants to break into some very dangerous places, both real and virtual, in order to get an equally dangerous secret. Along for the ride are a street samurai, a dead cowboy, and a psycho with holographic projection abilities. Sound like a party? Well, it is. But it's not just a slew of FX shots strung together for a wowthatscool effect, which is what Matrix was close to becoming and narrowly avoided. It's a story with a conundrum which must be unraveled. The characters do use technology, but it's not the focus, it's simply tools that they use. The focus should be on the characters, and believe me there's plenty to focus on with them.
Directed by Chris Cunningham: Why Chris Cunningham, who doesn't have a feature film under his belt? Well, it comes down to two reasons. First, he's been living to do this since he read the book as a teen. He's been storyboarding this thing in his heads for years. And finally, William Gibson himself has said that Chris is the man. If you want to argue with him, go ahead. It is his universe, after all.
Effects by A Veritable Slew of FX People: Call them up. All of them. If Spawn had a few dozen, I can't imagine what this thing is going to need. From fake limbs to blades in a young lady's hands to holograms to a bizarre whacked out virtual world where anything can and does happen--this will keep the industry busy for a bit. And it has to be done correctly, or all of us people who read the novel will revolt. I tell you three times.
Edward Norton as Case: I couldn't believe it when I went back to double check and found that Case is in his early twenties. Wowsers, Bob, I kept picturing older actors. I had originally thought of Russell Crowe for the part, since Case has some backbone to him, but he's human, right? When he thinks somebody's out to whack him, he freaks and runs. Perfectly understandable, even if you do have a cobra on hand. Finally, we decided to go with someone who could pull of a younger role and yet make it his own--the incomparable Ed.
Victor Wong as Ratz: The Chiba bartender, a rather unattractive man with a prosthetic arm. An arm that can crush things easy, so you know he means business. After seeing Victor at work in such films as Big Trouble in Little China, he's a formidable one, he is. This one was easy to cast.
Kate Hudson as Linda Lee: What was Case thinking when he hooked up with this one? Sheesh. But no matter. Drugged out, easily distracted, and a pain in the ass--that pretty much sums up our friend Linda. After seeing Kate in the easily forgettable 200 Cigarettes, it was easy to note that she would fill the aforementioned description with ease.
M. Emmet Walsh as Julius Deane: One hundred and thirty five years old, well-dressed and cautious, Mr. Deane is an importer and he is also in the know. He not only shows up as himself, but as a construct for Wintermute in the VR world later on. Walsh is a great character actor, looks wise and ancient, and would be perfect in a silk tie.
Adam Goldberg as Wage: Not a large part, Wage is the one Case is sure is out to waste him in the opening pages of the novel. He just needs to be a bit on the assholish side, and after seeing him in Saving Private Ryan and EDtv we think he'd be perfect for the part.
Charlotte Lewis as Molly: Okay. Out of all the parts needing to be cast, I don't mind telling you that this one gave us all kinds of problems. First, we thought of Carrie-Ann Moss, the kickass Trinity from The Matrix. No no, too similar a role. Then, we thought--hmmm, Angela Bassett perhaps? Again, too similar a role--in Strange Days. How about everybody's favorite asskicker in Starship Troopers, Dina Meyer? Agh! It turns she bloody well has already played Molly (or who was supposed to be Molly) in the aforementioned Johnny Mnemonic. And at DreamCasts, we normally don't like to change the people who play the parts, but when they're linked to a bad film, we have no choice. So what to do? We needed a woman who was beautiful (and could remain so with built-in shades), but not in a stark amazingly supermodel beautiful kind of way. Someone who was also slightly exotic, but could kick your ass in a heartbeat. So after many hours spent banging our collective heads against the top of this desk, we remembered The Golden Child. That's right, she made her feature film debut as Kee Nang, who was busy trying to save Eddie Murphy's butt. Take away what little comedic edge she had in there, give her even more attitude, and you have a street samurai waiting to happen. Our foreheads feel much better now.
Dennis Hopper as Armitage: Okay, let's see. A guy who's special forces, and really someone else entirely who was completely restructured to the pawn of an AI program, and oh by the way, he's pretty much psychotic?! Do I have to explain this decision any further?
Hank Azaria as Finn: So there I am flipping through pictures of actors, trying to find who I think should be techie-man The Finn. Hey, here's a guy--Joe Pantoliano, he looks just like the Finn-type HEY--wait a minute, that's right, he was Cypher in The Matrix, no wonder he had that Finn look. Where do they get off stealing my ideas before I have them?: Okay, so then we had to rethink this whole Finn thing. He comes in, he does his thing, and then he's gone. He's a consummate businessman, and perhaps he's a little slimy too. Who better than Azaria, who's got a hellacious character range, to pull this off? No one, we think.
James Caan as Dixie: Dixie is the flatscan, the ROM construct that used to be a cowboy. He's a personality saved to disk. Now we see Dix appearing as a kind of grainy hologram version of himself whenever Case is working with him. And for some reason, from the get-go, I imagined James Caan in the role. Don't ask me why. And when it came to the point he tells Case to erase the ROM once they're done with the plan, I knew Caan could pull it off.
Liev Schreiber as Peter Riviera: In the two Scream films, he's been just on the edges of the action, and only slightly malevolent. Here we want him to go balls to the wall sociopathic, as he changes shooting up into a game with holograms. A very sick individual. The selling point was being able to seem him doing the destructive holographic performance at the club. I could see it. Yeeks.
Omar Epps as Aerol: One of the Rastas who helps Case and crew with the mission, he's more of a background character than our buddy Maelcum, but he's there nonetheless. Epps is a very strong, brooding, silent type who would fill the part well.
Harold Perrineau, Jr. as Maelcum: A really really great actor who we'd watch in pretty much anything, especially after his turn as Mercutio in Romeo + Juliet. When we were trying to come up with who could play a convincing Rastafarian Navy, there was no question as to who would get the role.
Leelee Sobieski as 3Jane: We pictured 3Jane Ashpool as rather young and also rather in charge of her situation. Even with Molly broken and captured and Peter running around being his psycho self, she never seems to blink an eye--just like everything was perfectly normal. And for such a strange and sheltered girl living in such a weird world, it probably is. It took some thinking and searching, as it always does with young characters, but we finally settled on Miss Sobieski, based on her previous work.
Max Von Sydow as Ashpool: Ashpool is just a very old (and very disturbed) man who wants nothing more than to get on with his suicide. Then Molly has to go and bust up the whole deal. What a pain. But anyway, that kind of lost doddering end-of-his-rope part would be perfect for Von Sydow, who can play strength or the lack thereof very easily.
Jet Li as Hideo: Trying to come up with a ninja took a little bit of thinking. You know, there's the obvious ninjaesque guys like Chow Yun Fat or something, but then we considered it a small part for new star of the moment, the Jetman. After all, considering they keep the ninjas on ice when they're not needed, he could very well be on the younger side, right? Freeze dried assassin, what a trip, eh?
Ken Nordine as the voice of Wintermute: Now the great thing about the book is that we get to come up with Wintermute's voice all on our own. No physical descriptions whatsoever. What a deal, huh? And if you haven't heard Ken Nordine (you have, you just probably didn't know it was him), he has a incredible voice for spoken word. Check out his work on the Stay Awake Disney album or The Best of Word Jazz to see his stuff. Does anyone know of a good page about Ken? We couldn't find anything. But trust us, his voice will grab you.
Anderson as the voice of Neuromancer: Let me take this moment
to explain some of our thoughts behind the voices of the two AI's.
Since they're spoken through simulacrums of different people, we wanted
to have really effective grabbing voices since the ear was the only thing
to get them. We decided to make Wintermute male and Neuromancer/Rio
female, just to have that juxtaposition. And we wanted to give Neuromancer
especially a very...disturbing voice. And in some of Anderson's vocal
works, if you've listened to it--she can get pretty downright bizarre.
"I am the dead, and their land." Yeah, I could believe it.
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