Comic Book Casting: The QUEEN & COUNTRY Movie

It was one of the comics that signaled the beginning of a renaissance in independent comics, taking on the tradition of military comics and spy thrillers and getting inside the heads and the homes of some of the world’s deadliest operatives. Launched in 2001 at Oni by writer Greg Rucka and artist Steve Rolston, Queen & Country went for six years and became Rucka’s longest and most expansive story in comics or novels. Foreshadowing his celebrated work on DC’s Batwoman and Marvel’s The Punisher by years, it showed a no-nonsense female operative from Britain’s SIS dealing with troubles on the battlefield and in the home office.

It’s been continually looked at by movie studios for an adaptation like it’s sister title Whiteout, but no one yet has been able to come up with a formula that’ll crack the code to get the film made. Instead of waiting around, we’ve come up with our idea of how it could work.

The Concept:

Movie-goers are still reeling from the success of the Bourne Identity movies as post-Bond spy drama series, and on the small screen shows like Homeland and the ill-fated Rubicon have likewise been showing there’s more to espionage thrillers than Ian Fleming. What Queen & Country has going for it is a strong female lead, a relatively under-exposed organization (in the SIS), and the unique capacity of being about a spy at work — both on the field and in the contemptuous back office. It’s as if Aaron Sorkin wrote James Bond, peeling back not just the foes on the field but the superiors sniping at her from the corner office.

The best place to start is the initial story-arc, Operation: Broken Ground, wherein the lead character Tara Chace assassinates a former Russian general-turned-arms smuggler that she later discovers was an rogue mission her immediate superior set her on despite the disagreement by his bosses. To the company she’s now a rogue operative operative carrying out un-approved missions, and meanwhile she also has to deal with the fallout from offing that Russian general. Sounds like an ideal movie, doesn’t it? Tell Hollywood that.

The Director:

There’s a energetic crop of directors who have made their name on spy/espionage movies, but for this I’d look at someone with a more diverse skillset that may have something new to say about the genre. Director Gavin O’Connor has directed four feature films, each different from the past: the MMA drama Fighter, the sports underdog title Miracle, the gritty cop drama Pride and Glory and the chick flick Tumbleweed. He seems like a student of cinema who’s able to to pick up on the nuance of scripts and carry them through without pulling back on the action. After the buzz around The Warrior, doing this type of film could be a real platform for him to go to the next level.

The Cast:

Tara Chace – Emily Blunt: Blunt’s been an actress whose name has been bandied about for a number of roles; in fact, Marvel wanted her for Black Widow but the actress turned down the role. You probably know her best for her role in The Adjustment Bureau, and she played a secretary both in The Devil Wears Prada and Ms. Piggy’s in the recent The Muppets. She may not be a “movie star” who can draw in ticket sales on her name alone, but she’s the best actress out there for filling out this part and giving it the authenticity it needs. Tara Chace is like a British spy version of Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica; somewhat broken as a person, but reveling in her job despite the people that keep her from doing it. Imagine that and you’re set.

Tom Wallace – Clive Owen: The number one to Tara’s number two, in any other movie Clive would be the star but in this he’d play the admirable lead spy who his female counterpart manages to outperform.

Paul Crocker – Philip Glenister: A relative unknown outside of British TV circles, Glenister would be a surprising choice but someone I think that could bring the movie together and be the anti-M in the ever-combative push to show people this isn’t James Bond. Glenister as Crocker could really play a conflicted boss here with his own motives working for his boss and assigning Tara’s missions.

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    What about Peter Capaldi (In the Loop) or Hugh Laurie for Crocker? Too old perhaps. Hmm…

  2. I’ve never read Queen & Country but I’d watch Philip Glenister in anything.

  3. LOVE Emily Blunt and Clive Owen for this!! Glenister was fantastic in Life on Mars, great choice too.

  4. I think these are great choices.
    I also think Josh feels old now and sees “old” everywhere he looks.
    It sure seems to come out in a lot of his comments.

    Don’t worry Josh- you’re still “relatively” young.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      No, he’s just worked in entertainment and is realistic about casting. A lot of the actors frequently suggested by fans for this type of thing are storied performers with a lot of experience. They’re at the top of our minds because they’re ubiquitous in these movies. They’ve been around a while. Hence they’re often older. Does that mean they can’t be good for tons of parts? No. But we often think of them in their prime, not as they are now. Clive Owen’s 47. He’s no longer the guy from The Bourne Identity or even Closer.

  5. That’s curious since this was suggested by one of your own writers.
    If Ian Mckellan can play a convincing Magneto then I would say it’s about the actor(and don’t cite the true age of magneto- he doesn’t and has never looked that old and frail in the comics)
    It’s about the actor right?
    If Donald Glover could play Spider-man b/c he’s a good actor(and I agree) then there shouldn’t be a reason Clive Owen couldn’t play this character. And correct me if I am wrong is there ever a specific age named for this part?
    Both are forms of discrimination to say this couldn’t happen.

    And seriously he does make comments about age a lot lately. Something is obviously germinating in there.
    I’m not working at the moment- I’ll go back and collect them all from this month a lone if you want.
    Come at me bro.
    (kidding)

    • A true iFanboy conspiracy.

      Ian McKellan is also the approximate age of someone who was a child during the Holocaust. He fit into that roll like a glove. No stretching there.

    • Like I said- Magneto is Not a good example – in the comics he is a strong and physically vibrant character.(chalk it up to mutant physiology- it;s the comics after all but it is the character as it is)
      McKellan pulled it off by sheer force of his acting abilities- but in casting to match a character – Yeah that is a stretch.
      Look at Magneto and what he is able to do then look at a head shot of McKellan.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Being that age and stamina in the field DO play a role in the overall series, I think actor age probably does play a role here. Actually, Clive Owen could be a decent choice for Crocker.

      I very frequently agree with Chris’s casting choices and the way he frames them with a unifying context (i.e. his pitch and overall approach to the project). That doesn’t mean we can’t debate a few items now and then. That’s the whole fun of it and the strength of having a team of writers. We have different interests and sensibilities. You don’t want an entire heist team of demolition experts.

    • Paul – I have to thing that a physically fit man of 47 would still be able to be an effective agent- I guess that just doesn’t seem that old to my 33 years.
      Also I do believe remembering you to be a huge supporter of Mckellan as Magneto how do you rationalize the stress and force he puts on his body for a man of his age?
      Is his physical appearance alone convincing that he would be able to to do what he does in the movies?
      I think the difference is- that You like that particular choice and are far more willing to accept it.
      Again- the actor sells it.

      “You don’t want an entire heist team of demolition experts.”
      I like that a lot and would like to see more debate among the staff here actually I think it helps flesh out content and learning far more effectively than nodding heads.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Superhero movies often have a different internal logic system than what we’re hypothesizing as a down-to-earth spy drama. Clive Owen isn’t egregiously old, but I’d probably go with someone a bit younger.

      Alright. Moving on.

  6. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:
  7. Tara Chace/Chase…make up your mind. 🙂

    At least you posted the pic of Chace with the normal size nose.

  8. I would love to see that movie. Rather than the way Hollywood would potentially do it.

    “We’ll get Jennifer Lawrence, hot off The Hunger Games! Pair her the George Clooney, because audiences love the May/December thing! Clint Eastwood is the boss! We’ll have to switch the story around, get rid of the British stuff… And the title. Maybe something Clancy-ish. Mission Of Danger! and make The male the lead, because we’ve done it before! And announce a release date before writing a script, or hiring a director!

    Yay Hollywood!

  9. What about Kevin Mckidd and Sean Bean, is he too old? Joseph Fiennes, (can we find a place for Idris?) Blunt is definitely your Girl.