Comic Book Casting: THIEF OF THIEVES Live-Action Television Series

Thief of Thieves #1Every week here at iFanboy, we look at comics’ greatest characters and stories and try to imagine what they’d be like in film or television. From the story concept to the people in charge and all the way down to who’d play who, we call it Comic Book Casting.

The heist.

It’s one of the greatest niches in the action/drama repertoire of movies out there. Best symbolized in modern movies by the Ocean’s Eleven movies and classically with It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, it centers on an amazing theft and the amazing thief (or thieves) behind it. The Image Comics series Thief of Thieves follows an experienced thief who’s sacrificed family and friends for his life of crime, only to wake up as an older man wishing he could get back those he lost. Now he’s trying to reconcile his life of crime with his real life and reconnect with his grown son and ex-wife… the only thing is, his son is under arrest and needs his father to bail him out.

Created by Robert Kirkman, Thief of Thieves is illustrated magnificently by Shawn Martinbrough and co-written by a rotating cast of top writers like Nick Spencer and Andy Diggle. And owing to Kirkman’s unprecedented television success with The Walking Dead on AMC, the network optioned the rights to do a television series based on Thief of Thieves just two months after its debut. So now the question is how would they do it? Here’s how.

The Concept:

As I said earlier, stories about heists have long been fodder for Hollywood adaptations. But those have mainly taken place in movies, but with Thief of Thieves they could bring that to the small screen and do wonders. The thrill of heist movies is seeing adept thieves at work, from the planning to the execution and the inevitable double- (and sometimes triple-) cross. Thief of Thieves provides that in spades, but also with some serious heartache with Conrad Paulson’s personal life.

For a Thief of Thieves television show, the act of thievery would be the sizzle to the steak in the same way the medical cases in House M.D. used it to bring viewers in. After that sizzle though, the real meat it seems is in the conflicting relationships between Paulson and his family — both his real family in his wife and son, but also his work family in Celia and the people works with. As if the confrontations there wouldn’t be enough, bringing in FBI agent Elizabeth Colson allows for the entire show — and Paulson’s life — to be shaken up at any moment. Structure-wise, I could see this following in the footsteps of the television series Prison Break but with more attention paid to believability and keeping the personal conflicts front-and-center.

The Showrunner:

At it’s core, Thief of Thieves is a heist drama with tons of heart. To keep up that pace, you need someone who’s well-versed in serialized television drama and knows how to mix action with family drama without dropping the ball on either. For this, I’d pull in The Shield creator/showrunner Shawn Ryan. Ryan, who also did The Unit, Terriers and several other recent shows, knows all about shooting action scenes and gunplay, but also knows the importance of good personal drama and tension.

The Cast:

Redmond / Conrad Paulson – Aaron Eckhart: Eckhart’s never really done television, but I’d imagine a meaty role like the lead in Thief of Thieves would be something that could lure in the Thank You For Smoking star. To some he might be considered a good co-star to other brighter stars, but after watching the aforementioned Thank You For Smoking I think Eckhart would be excellent to play Paulson.

Celia – Lauren German: Currently starring in TV’s Chicago Fire, Lauren German has become a TV veteran despite not even reaching age 35 yet. But this Hostel II star hasn’t really had a chance to show that wildside on television, and playing Celia inThief of Thieves would be an excellent casting choice for her and for the show.

Audrey – Portia de Rossi: Although sold on the drama of thievery, the drama of Thief of Thieves actually lies in his faltering family life — and ex-wife Audrey is key to that. Portia De Rossi is an undervalued talent, and someone I’d love to see verbally spar with Eckhart-as-Paulson and drive the getaway car when need be.

James – Michael Pitt: This Boardwalk Empire alum looks tailor made for a series of his own, but while this isn’t that chance I’d love to see him take the bit part of Audrey’s brother and Paulson’s former running buddy James. This small but pivotal role is something Pitt could really hit a home run on.

Augustus – Graham Phillips: As the son of Conrad Paulson and Audrey, the role of Augustus as a young man driving to live up to the reputation of his father is something big. I’d enlist 20 year old The Good Wife  actor Graham Phillips to take on this challenging role, and while it would require Phillips to toughen up some over his previous roles I think he could jump at the challenge.

Elizabeth Colson – Angela Bassett: Angela Bassett may be best known these days for her ancillary roles in movies, but in the 90s she was riveting in solo dramas like What’s Love Got To Do With It and in sci-fi/action dramas like Strange Days. I’d try to recapture that by putting Bassett into the role of FBI Agent Elizabeth Colson. The idea of her playing this role and playing opposite to Eckhart-as-Paulson seems like a great television show waiting to happen.


  1. This all sounds very interesting, the only thing I’m not sold on is Eckhart since I think his movie career should be picking up soon. I’m assuming this might be AMC because of Kirkman’s credits, so maybe some other options for lead star could be Sean Bean, Justin Hartly, or maybe Joshua Jackson. Although I’ve never read the series, I think any of those three could be the right tv star for this show. We need more comic book shows on tv, or just more AMC. Hopefully this show gets developed, if it does I’ll definitely check it out.

  2. This comic book is pretty much just a TV pitch so it’ll eventually get made. Guess we’ll see if lighting strikes twice for Kirkman.