Thanks guys for all your input in recasting THE SURVIVALIST characters; taking them out of the 80s and bringing them into the present day.  The one major thing I’ve learned from this is that I spend too much time watching movies on TCM.  The majority of people you suggested for the various roles, I have never heard of!  Ok – Hugh Jackman can play anyone he wants to play and I’ll make sure I see him.  Kurt Russell is the right age and build to play John Thomas Rourke and a fine actor but after Captain Ron and Snake Plissken, I more imagine him as Hank Frost, the one-eyed mercenary with the horrible jokes in the THEY CALL ME THE MERCENARY series.  Mel Gibson and Dolph Lundgren – I don’t know! 

            Russell Crowe’s name has come up a few times as Rourke and once as Wolfgang Mann. Bob Anderson, co-writer of the new SURVIVALIST series thinks Mark Harmon or Mathew McConaughey would both be excellent choices.   Mark Wahlberg was another suggestion.  What do you think about Alex O’Loughlin from HAWAII FIVE-O?  I think he’s got that “normal guy look” that a lot of people like. 

Some of the unknown to me actors suggested for Rourke – all quite good looking, by the way – were Jeremy Renner, Thomas Jane, Josh Holloway and Timothy Olyphant.  Those of you who live in the modern era may have heard of them or have seen their works.  I had to look them up on Google.

            When we originally came up with the characters, John Thomas Rourke was a combination of Clint Eastwood and Charlton Heston.  We could imagine him both logical and patient as well as, when necessary, a killing machine.  We always tried to make his character one who was put in the ultimate survival situation; a situation that did not necessarily get resolved with logical solutions.  He was no better than anyone else; he just used his brain and with all things, planned ahead.

            Natalia was easy for us to cast.  Picture a thirty-something Sophia Loren in a leather jumpsuit – with a lot of attitude.  Sophia Loren is still one of the most beautiful women in the world and still has that look.  Much later, after Jerry saw Milla Jovovich movies - over and over again - he envisioned her as Natalia.  Another contributor suggested Angelina Jolie for the role.  Some suggested Mariska Hargitay and Summer Glau.  Whoever played her would have to exude confidence and be as graceful as the ballerina she could have become. 

            Everybody likes Noah Wyle and wants him to play Paul!  Hands down, he got more votes than anyone else. We all watched him grow up on ER and are proud of him having his own TV gig now.  We even like him as THE LIBRARIAN movies.  He just comes off like a nice guy who could learn how to do anything and you wouldn’t mind him marrying into the family.  Michael Cera from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT received some votes as did Paul Rudd. 

            Jerry and I had a real person in mind with Paul.  We knew John since before we were married.  He suffered through some classes with Jerry at DePaul University and the three of us would hang out together.  He was and still is a gentle soul which meant that Jerry and I picked on him unmercifully.  We always knew though, that in a pinch, John could step up and do what ever was needed.

            Sarah was a hard character to write.  She was like Paul, an average person thrown into a desperate situation but, unlike Paul, who had his mentor to show him the ropes, Sarah had to learn to survive and to be able to protect her then, small children, all by herself.  One day we applauded her bravery, the next we lamented her liberal naiveté   She was the character you wanted to hate but just couldn’t.  In some ways, Sarah had more sadness dealt to her than most of us could even imagine.  Eventually, she was as much a survivalist as her husband. 

            I don’t think either one of us ever had one person in mind for Sarah but looking back I can picture Geraldine Page in the 1953 classic movie HONDO being a Sarah type.  Some suggestions from you were Suzanna Thompson and Gwynneth Paltrow.  We also got some votes for Milla Jovovich.  Any thoughts on this?     

            Michael Rourke will always be pictured by me as that little boy who became a man overnight.  I guess we all know some real life Michaels.  You picked a diverse group of adult Michaels.   Channing Tatum got the most votes, then Chris Pine from STAR TREK fame and ARROW’s Stephen Amell.  Someone named Jason suggested that he was born to play the part.  I don’t know.

            Annie is the little girl who grew up to be this sensible, domestic diva who could blow your head off so fast you wouldn’t have time to blink  She could sew buttons on a shirt and concoct a recipe for incendiary devices at the same time.  My choice for Annie is Ashley Greene.  The first time I saw her in THE TWILIGHT movies I knew she was the one.  You guys like Piper Perabo, Drew Barrymore and Willa Holland from O.C., all good choices as well.

            I certainly wouldn’t consider Karamatsov a secondary character because he did so much to propel the story forward.  He was so good at being evil; you just want to hug him.  Aaron Eckhart name was put out there as a choice. The guy I think would be great is the tall, bloodsucking vamp on TRUE BLOOD, Alexander Skarsgard.  Picture him with dark hair and a sneer.  Another thought, James Purefoy who plays Joe Carroll on THE FOLLOWING.

            Didn’t get much action on some characters.  Russell Crowe has his pick of John Rourke or Wolfgang, whichever character he wishes to play.  Emma, who is now a major player in the saga had the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE actress, Michelle Monaghan suggested for the role.  Paul Blackthorne from ARROW was suggested for the part of Tim Shaw. 

            As you continue reading the series, you’ll meet a lot more characters.  I hope we do this again when you’ll have to come up with an actor to play future ETs and astronauts as well as new family members.  I had a good time compiling these results and I look forward to your comments.

            Remember to always plan ahead!


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Reader Comments (2)

How brilliant to read about these oh so familiar and beloved characters and what inspired you and Jerry to create them. I read this post with absolute fascination! Thank-you so much for sharing!

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Lancaster

Great stories, but please lose the two-guns-blazing stuff out of bad westerns. And the cookie-cutter interchangeable fight scenes can go too. Detonics is good.

September 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Sheffer

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