I’ve sung the praises of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series numerous times in this blog. How can you not love a series that stars a private detective who just so happens to be a wizard? There was an attempt by the Sci-Fi Channel to make a series based on Harry Dresden’s adventures. It was okay…but it wasn’t really Butcher’s world. (I will say this: if not for the Sci-Fi Channel, I might never have picked up Storm Front and would currently be living a Dresden-free lifestyle. Which would be, y’know, just wrong.) One of the main problems is that the world in Butcher’s novels is a fairly complex one. There are wizards and vampires and faeries. White Councils and Wardens and Red Courts. Another problem is that folks probably have very different ideas of what these characters look like. But, never one to shy away from hypothetical controversy (actual controversy is a different story…that can stay over there), I’ve decided to cast a Dresden Files movie.
The Plot: Like I said, there’s a whole lot going on in Butcher’s books. There are more secondary and tertiary characters than in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter combined. There’s a history–not just Harry’s personal history, but the history of magic and wizards, in general. There’s politics and war and diplomatic wrangling. Plus there’s whatever case that Harry is working on in a given book. See, a lot. So, I have no idea what the plot of a Harry Dresden movie would be. Would it just be the plot of the first book (Storm Front), or something that deals with one of the longer arcs in the series?
The Cast (In addition to the characters who have been there since page one, there are numerous characters who first appeared in later novels, but have since gone on to become more or less permanent fixtures in Harry’s life. I’ve picked some of the more prominent, while knowingly ignoring others for reasons of time and space. Also, some of these may be SPOILER-y, so if you haven’t been keeping up with the Dresden books, you may want to turn back. Thank you, that is all.):
Clive Owen as Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden
It’s not easy finding someone to fill Harry’s leather duster. He’s an irreverent wise-ass in the best hardboiled tradition. He also happens to be a little above average height and somewhat lanky. Now, I would never call Clive Owen “above average height and somewhat lanky”; however, I think he’s proven that he can handle hardboiled wise-assery in both Sin City and Shoot ‘Em Up.
Naomi Watts as Sgt. Karrin Murphy
The “small, but fierce” Sgt. Murphy is not only Dresden’s friend on the Chicago Police Force, but also one of his few friends, period. Despite being a petite blonde with a cute button nose, Murphy can kick ass with the best of them, including winning numerous martial arts competitions. If nothing else, Watts is a petite blonde; but, I also think she could probably pull off Murphy’s tough-as-nails exterior.
Michael Bowen as Warden Donald Morgan
As a Warden for the White Council, Morgan acts as both Special Forces and Internal Affairs for the wizard community. He’s been around since book one, keeping an eye on Dresden because the Council feared that Harry was (or would soon be) dabbling in the dark magics. I was this close to casting Keith Carradine when I decided to go for a non-Carradine Carradine: Keith’s half-brother Michael Bowen.
Rashida Jones as Susan Rodriguez
Susan was a tabloid reporter for The Midwestern Arcane (think Carl Kolchak, but hotter). She was also Harry’s girlfriend, at least before she was infected by a vampire of the Red Court.
Cillian Murphy as Thomas Raith
Thomas Raith is a vampire of the White Court. White Court vampires feed off of emotional energy; in the case of the Raith family, the emotions they prefer are lust, passion and/or desire. Thomas, like all White vampires, radiates sexual energy, making him pretty damned irresistible even if he’s not trying to be. As half-brothers, Thomas and Harry share several physical attributes, although Thomas takes it to a more idealized “Greek god” degree. Cillian Murphy could almost be a prettier version of Clive Owen…if you squint just right and look away from the screen.
Nathan Fillion as Michael Carpenter
Michael Carpenter is a Knight of the Cross. He is charged with using one of three swords–which happen to have one of the nails from Christ’s Crucifixion forged into the blade–to combat the forces of Hell. Michael is a devout man, whose faith sometimes confuses (and angers) Harry. But, Harry never doubts Michael’s friendship, love for his family, or ability to be where he’s needed when he’s needed. Fillion (in addition to being the obligatory Whedonite on these lists) has that quiet strength that you need for Michael.
Jason Lee as Bob the Skull
Wizard’s don’t do so well around technology invented after 1950, so Bob acts as Harry’s laptop and magical database. Bob is a spirit of the air who inhabits a human skull in Harry’s basement lab. Since he takes on the personality traits of his owners, since coming into Harry’s possession, Bob has become a bit of an obstinate smart-ass. He’s also a bit of a letch, so you need someone who can leer with their voices, and I think Jason Lee has one of the more inherently leer-y and smart-ass-y voices around.
Adrian Pasdar as “Gentleman” Johnnie Marcone
“Gentleman” Johnnie is the top dog in Chicago’s human underworld, although he frequently finds himself embroiled in many of Dresden’s supernatural cases. Marcone may be a mobster, but he also possesses an almost Old World code of honor, which is probably how he managed to get himself appointed as a freelord under the Unseelie Accords (a set of loose rules that govern the members of the magical world). Pasdar has made a career playing cold, calculating individuals who aren’t above bending the rules if it serves their personal ends.
Donald Sutherland as Ebenezar McCoy
The cranky and crotchety McCoy (maybe it’s the name?) is a senior member of the White Council, as well as Harry’s old mentor–well, the one that survived. He’s also the Council’s Blackstaff, a wizard who is allowed to operate outside of the Seven Laws of Magic to do the Council’s “wetwork.” Honestly, the only reason I picked Sutherland (other than the fact that he’s awesome) is that I think he looks positively deranged when he’s all scruffy and dishevelled–doesn’t he look like a centuries-old wizard from the backwoods of Missouri?
Monica Bellucci as The Leanansidhe (or Lea)
Lea is (quite literally) Harry’s faerie godmother. She’s a powerful member of the Winter Court of Faerie and, as such, is not to be trusted. She’s not above deceit or manipulation (or pain, to be honest) to get what she wants. Bellucci has an almost otherworldly quality about her that would fit Lea perfectly. Plus, it’ll be fun to see her get to play opposite Clive Owen again.