More Casting Announcements and Distribution News

Two more casting announcements have been made this week for TNT’s TV adaptation of The Alienist. Variety reported earlier this week that Matt Lintz has been cast as Stevie Taggert. The fifteen year old actor has previously appeared in feature films Pixels (2015) and Kill the Messenger (2014), along with a number of TV series including Sleepy Hollow (2013), Banshee (2013), and Revolution (2012). Variety’s description of Stevie as a boy “hardened by a life on the streets” who had risen to “become the bane of fifteen police precincts” before becoming Dr. Kreizler’s ward is loyal to the source material, and Matt Lintz certainly looks the part for the youngest member of the investigative team.

In addition, Deadline reported on Friday that Matthew Shear has also joined the cast as Lucius Isaacson. Matthew’s break-out role was in Mistress America (2015), but he has also appeared in number of TV series including Horace and Pete (2016) and Deadbeat (2016). As with Stevie, Deadline’s description of Lucius as “an extremely intelligent, focused man whose medical studies have helped hone his expertise in criminal science” is consistent with the novel, but the extended description that he “believes that bones provide the most accurate information when it comes to forensics” comes out of nowhere and is a little troubling.

Finally, TV Wise exclusively reported on Wednesday that Netflix is currently finalising a deal for international distribution of the ten episode series. They report that the deal will give Netflix first window rights in the UK along with more than 170 other countries. Good news for those of us outside the United States!

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Robert Wisdom And Q’orianka Kilcher Join The Cast

TNT announced on Wednesday that Robert Wisdom (The Wire) and Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World) will join the cast of The Alienist as Cyrus Montrose and Mary Palmer, respectively.

Robert Wisdom has appeared in a number of TV series over the years, including Prison Break (2007-2008), The Wire (2003-2008), Supernatural (2008-2009), and Nashville (2012-2013). In addition, he has also appeared in Live Cargo (2016), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Face Off (1997), and Ray (2004). TNT’s press release has not provided much detail about how Cyrus will be portrayed in the upcoming adaptation, but their brief description of Cyrus as “a man with a dark past who Kreizler has helped reform” is certainly loyal to the source material.

Although Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World) could be considered a surprising choice as Mary Palmer on the surface, her performance opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in The New World (2006) earned her a National Board of Review’s Breakthrough Performance by an Actress Award and an ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Q’orianka has also starred in other period pieces such as Princess Kaiulani (2009) and Te Ata (2016). In addition to her acting, Q’orianka is noted for her activism and has spoken for organisations such as Amnesty International. It will take a remarkable actress to sensitively portray Mary who, though frustrated by disability, is a strong and complex character; however, the casting of Q’orianka has given me some hope that this may be accomplished.

At this stage, we lack casting information for Theodore Roosevelt, the Isaacson brothers, Stevie Taggert, and John Beecham. Given some of the choices made so far, it will certainly be interesting to see how the remainder of the cast will come together. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2017 in Budapest.

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Dakota Fanning Cast As Sara Howard

TNT announced today that Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral) has been cast as intrepid police secretary, Sara Howard, in the upcoming TV adaptation of The Alienist. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this will be Ms. Fanning’s “first significant TV foray since her turn in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 Syfy miniseries Taken.” In the intervening time, she has appeared in films including The War of the Worlds (2005), The Secret Life of Bees (2008), the Twilight saga (2009-10), Effie Gray (2014), The Benefactor (2015), and most recently American Pastoral (2016). In the coming years, she will also be appearing in The Bell Jar and Ocean’s Eight.

In addition, there appears to be some good news for Alienist fans hoping for a loyal adaptation, with TNT’s press release describing the character of Sara Howard in terms consistent with the source material (see below). It will be exciting to see who is cast for the remaining members of the investigative team, as well as the important historical figure of Theodore Roosevelt. Production begins in early 2017 in Budapest.

Fanning’s character, the primly dressed but beautiful Sara Howard, is the first woman hired by the New York Police Department and she is determined to become the first female police detective in New York City. Self-possessed and intelligent, Sara grew up as an only child who was doted on by her father. She not only “shakes hands like a man,” but considers herself just as competent –- if not more so –- than any of the men on the force. Well-bred and well-spoken, Sara has a keen interest in crime-solving and is immediately intrigued by the case being investigated by Kreizler and Moore.

Mandatory Photo Credit: Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5895246bj), Dakota Fanning of ‘American Pastoral’, Variety and Shutterstock Portrait Studio, Day 1, Toronto International Film Festival, Canada – 09 Sep 2016

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Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans Cast in TNT’s The Alienist

Daniel BruhlThe long-awaited news of who will be playing Dr. Laszlo Kreizler and John Moore in TNT’s upcoming adaptation of The Alienist was announced on Monday. Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglorious Bastards, Captain America: Civil War) has been cast as Dr. Kreizler, while Luke Evans (The Girl on The Train, The Hobbit trilogy, Dracula Untold) has been cast as John Moore. TNT have also confirmed that shooting will begin in Budapest in early 2017.

While the casting of these two talented actors is certainly an exciting development, there was some troubling news to accompany this announcement as well. Namely, the description in the press release of John as “a society illustrator for the New York Times” who “always [lacks] drive and a meaning to his pursuits.” For any visitors who may feel that I am over-reacting in describing this as “troubling” — after all, John remaining a crime reporter can’t really be that important, can it? — I would ask you to remember what his role on the team was described as in the novel:

“What the hell was the idea of getting my whole house up and forcing me to go down there, anyway? It’s not as though I can report that kind of thing, you know that–all it did was agitate my grandmother, and that’s not much of an achievement.”

“I’m sorry, John. But you needed to see just what it is we’ll be dealing with.”

I am not dealing with anything!” I protested again. “I’m only a reporter, remember, a reporter with a gruesome story that I can’t tell.”

“You do yourself no justice, Moore,” Kreizler said. “You are a veritable cyclopedia of privileged information–though you may not realize it.”

… “Tell me, Moore,” Laszlo asked, “what’s your opinion of Ellison? Is there any chance he is involved?”

“Biff?” I sat back, stretched my legs out, and weighed it. “He is, without question, one of the worst men in this city. Most of the gangsters who run things now have some kind of human spark in them somewhere, however hidden. Even Monk Eastman has his cats and birds. But Biff–for all I can tell, nothing touches him. Cruelty is really his only sport, the only thing that seems to give him any pleasure. And if I hadn’t seen that body, if this were just a hypothetical question about a dead boy who worked out of Paresis Hall, I wouldn’t hesitate to say he’s a suspect. Motive? He would have had a few, the most likely being to keep the other boys in line, make sure they pay their full cut to him. But there’s just one problem with it–style. Biff is a stiletto man, if you know what I mean. He kills quietly, neatly, and a lot of people he’s supposed to have killed have never been found. He’s all flash in his clothes, but not in his work. So, much as I’d like to, I can’t say as I see him involved in this. It’s just not his–style.”

I glanced up to find Laszlo giving me a very puzzled look. “John, that is the most intelligent thing I’ve ever heard you say,” he finally announced. “And to think that you wondered why you’d been brought along.” He turned to Theodore. “Roosevelt, I shall require Moore as my assistant. His knowledge of this city’s criminal activities, and of the locales in which those activities take place, will make him invaluable.”

This being John’s role, it therefore makes little sense for his profession to be changed to “a society illustrator,” nor is it clear why such a change would be necessary for creative reasons. Moreover, while John may lack drive during investigations at times, he does take his work seriously. One need only look to the opening of the novel’s sequel, The Angel of Darkness, to see this aspect of his character on full display — not to mention making it clear why it’s important for John to be represented as a writer rather than an illustrator.

Finally, I would ask any new visitors to 17th Street to note that this news follows some deeply worrying audition recordings that surfaced earlier in the year in which it became clear that the characters of Marcus Isaacson and Sara Howard had been changed significantly from how they were portrayed in the novel. At the time, I had been hopeful that these audition recordings would not be representative of the production as a whole. For now, however, I suppose we will have to wait and see.

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