Comic Book Casting: The CASANOVA Movie

CasanovaHollywood has had a long fascination with the spy genre. But they’ve never seen a spy like Casanova Quinn.

Casanova Quinn is the star of Casanova, a long-running creator-owned series by Matt Fraction,  Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon which takes the spy genre on a psychedelic road trip as if driven by Franz Kafka and  Hunter S. Thompson. First published at Image before jumping over to Marvel’s Icon when Fraction became exclusive to the House of Ideas, Casanova is a thing all it’s own. It’s been optioned at least once for a movie, but given the subject matter and style you can see how it’s not the easiest kind of on-screen adaptation.

But if making movies were easy, everyone would do it. Here’s how we’d love to see a Casanova movie pan out.

The Concept:

A super-secret government spy gets blackmailed into being a double agent for the spy agency he and his family have fought for all his life. Sounds straight-forward, right? Well, Casanova is anything but. It may sound James Bond, but that’s only if those martinis he was drinking was laced with mescaline. Casanova thrives on taking the tenants of spy fiction and threading them through esoteric and trippy concepts and visuals while keeping a firm grasp on your heart.

For a Casanova movie, it could live or die by how a writer and director adapt the movie. I’d admonish against a Sin City-esque panel-by-panel adaptation, but instead hope the filmmakers find a cinematic route to the story, the same way Fraction, Ba and Moon found comic antecedents. For story it’s pretty straight forward — with the single-issue plots being delightful stops in a 120 minute theater experience on the way to fighting off Newman Zemo’s control of him.

The Director:

No beating around the bush… Spike Jonze is an easy pick for me to bring Casanova to the big screen. He’s shown himself fully capable of pulling off excellent, fictional visuals from his music video work but also doing it in service to a larger story as seen in Being John Malkovich and Where The Wild Things Are.  Most other directors might veer into adapting just the plot or just the visuals, but Jonze has the rare skill set– untapped I should add – to being able to fully actualize a movie adaptation of a comic book.

The Cast:

Casanova “Cass” Quinn – Joaquin Phoenix: Although he might have damaged his career somewhat with off-screen antics, Joaquin Phoenix would be an ideal choice in storytelling, delivery and nuance to take on the lead role in Casanova. He also has experience working on left-field films like Casanova would hopefully be, letting him play into the overall story and fit into the world.

Zephyr Quinn – Noomi Rapace: Rapace is a bit of a chameleon between her work on Prometheus and the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, and I think she cold really adjust to fit into the complex role of Zephyr for Casanova. Seeing her play off Phoenix and the other cast members could really make her the thread that ties it all together.

Cornelius Quinn – Ian McShane: Okay we need a gruff, bolsterous actor… but also someone who can be more than that. With those requirements, Ian McShane is at the top of a very short list of those who can play it

Newman Xeno – John Hawkes: Another Deadwood alum (coincidentally), but Hawkes performance in Winter’s Bone as Teardrop really set this off for me as an ideal casting. Hawkes handles scripts and can transform characters into people, and wrapping himself up to be Newman Xeno would be a big challenge I’d relish to see him try.