In the imaginary movies of our favorite romance novels . . . who should play whom?
Dark Lover (2005)
Book 1 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series
Dark Lover is the steamy story of Wrath, the brooding, tormented King of the Vampires, and the lovely half-human/half-vampire Beth, the woman he has sworn to protect. The book also introduces the Black Dagger Brotherhood—six impossibly hot warrior vampires based in small-town New York who serve as defenders of their dwindling race. Their sworn enemies are the deadly unsouled creatures known as lessers whose entire raison d’être is basically to kill as many vampires as possible. In this installment (the first of nine to date, including this month’s hotly-anticipated Lover Unleashed), Beth comes to terms with the fact that she’s a vampire, Wrath comes to terms with the fact that he’s their king, and a lesser called Mr. X (no, seriously) runs around and kills a bunch of prostitutes. Oh, and Wrath and Beth get it on. And on and on and on. Frequently, creatively, and rather explicitly.
Fantasy Casting a Black Dagger book gave us a welcome excuse to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes: meditating on the diverse assets of some of Hollywood’s most scrumptious man candy. (Did we mention that the brothers are all impossibly hot?) We’re not aware of any plans to bring these books to the screen, but if it happens, this is the lineup we’d like to see.
The Fantasy Dark Lover Cast
Known For: Chuck
Beautiful, whip-smart, much admired and more than a little lost, intrepid reporter and unknowing half-vampire Beth is a twenty-five year old virgin who wonders if maybe she might be gay. That is, until her vampire stalker/mentor/lover Wrath emphatically proves otherwise, finding in her a “female of worth” who brings light to his eternal darkness . . . and finds herself in the process.
We think Sarah Lancaster, with her sheer loveliness, air of keen intelligence, innate charm and winning, soulful gaze could carry off this multi-faceted heroine with aplomb; not only is she demonstrably gorgeous, but she has shown through her work on Chuck that she can play smart, sassy, sultry, scared and happily settled down, all Beth essentials. While more a supporting character than anything else, Lancaster has imbued her Ellie Bartowski with a complexity beyond her unfortunately limited screen time; we’ve seen sexy, loyal, protective, demanding, unreasonable, sensible and many, many Daddy Issues… all of which is also very Beth. And added to that is the sisterly affection she bestows easily upon the eponymous Chuck—exactly the kind of loving-but-firm care the brothers need from their Queen.
Also, Lancaster’s middle name is Beth! Who are we to fly in the face of such pointed serendipity?
Known For: Xena: Warrior Princess, Crossing Jordan, V, and a fair amount of TV in New Zealand.
Dark, tortured, arrogant, and a bit curmudgeonly, Wrath also has a softer side that only emerges around his woman. His portrayer needs to evoke reluctant leadership, barely contained bloodsucking menace, and raw sex . . . all at the same time. And he needs to rock a black leather jacket and rock it hard.
We think we’ve found such a one in Australian actor Charles Mesure. As soulful, snarky killer-for-hire Kyle Hobbes on television’s V, Mesure ably conveys both Hobbes’ essential cynicism and the heart of gold that beats beneath his endless supply of tight black T-shirts. And as for sex appeal (not optional for this character) . . . did you happen to see the recent scene in which Hobbes and Resistance leader Erica succumbed to their mutual lust (the fact that he was responsible for her ex-husband’s death and she doesn’t know it yet notwithstanding)? If not, go check it out on YouTube. Feast your eyes on that magnificent upper body. When you’re finished staring—and sending a fruit basket in gratitude to the actor’s personal trainer—we’re sure you’ll agree with us that Mesure may be an unconventional choice, but he’s also an appropriate one.
Known For: Lost, mostly, but fans can look forward to seeing him in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol later this year.
With his good looks, blinding magnetism, and legendary way with the ladies, Rhage is known as “Hollywood” among the brothers. So who better to play him than Josh Holloway, one of television’s most charismatic golden boys? Like Sawyer, Holloway’s Lost character who balanced effortless charm with what one might delicately call a bit of an attitude problem (Sawyer was a professional con man and could be, not to put too fine a point on it, a real pain in the ass), Rhage has a dark side: when he’s upset, he turns into a dragon. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Regrettably, we don’t get to meet the dragon in Dark Lover—it’s known simply as “The Beast”—but we do see enough of Rhage to know that Holloway would be a natural fit for the role.
Known For: Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse
The Tohr of Dark Lover is a family man, a stalwart lieutenant to Wrath and yet unafraid to speak truth to power. Happily in love with his wife after centuries together, Tohrment is trustworthy, loyal, honorable and almost without sin… very much at odds with the rest of his brethren. Big, of course (all the brothers are big) and powerful, naturally (all the brothers are powerful), Tohr also brings a sense of dignity to proceedings, with his smooth tact and old-fashioned chivalry. Tahmoh Penikett, as Helo on BSG, gave us both hardened warrior and devoted husband; in Dollhouse, he gave us a crusading FBI agent with a self-imposed, single-minded mission. He has the sincerity, the smarts and the snark to pull off Tohr, and looking further ahead in the series, when a certain . . . lamentable event takes place, he would be more than capable of giving us broken, as well. You know what else? Tahmoh . . . Tohrment. If we’re gonna give Sarah Lancaster extra points for her middle name, then Penikett gets some too, for possessing his very own superfluous “h.”
Known For: Troy, Generation Kill, The Mentalist
Okay, we can see how this might be considered an odd choice, but hear us out. The thing with V is that he is big, bad and so, so smart. He’s the tech geek of the Brotherhood and yet he can bring the pain just as hard as even the most id-ish of the boys. He loves the Red Sox and whisky, but he also loves him some complicated algorithms and formulae; add in painful precognition, a wicked wit, an open heart and a very open mind, and Vishous is perhaps simultaneously the hottest, coolest and nerdiest of the brothers. So, why Owain Yeoman? Sure, he’s well-built and well-favored, but isn’t he a little bit . . . wholesome-looking, for V? Well, sure. Currently. But we’re looking beneath the surface (which we think some designer stubble, a less-spiky hairstyle and some dangerous BDB tattoos could fix right up) to find Yeoman’s inner-V. As The Mentalist’s Agent Wayne Rigsby, he has given us both smart and smartass; we’ve seen him both in love and heartbroken; we’ve seen restrained violence and fury unleashed; ruthless pragmatism and heartfelt remorse. Additionally, Yeoman’s palpable bromancey chemistry with co-star Tim Kang speaks volumes for his ability to properly convey Vishous’s burgeoning ambiguous feelings for a certain buddy of his as the series progresses. Plus, in real life? Yeoman’s father is an honest-to-goodness nuclear physicist. So, yeah—he surely knows a little something about genius.
PHURY and ZSADIST
Wentworth Miller, in a remarkable dual role
Known For: Underworld, Prison Break andResident Evil: Afterlife
Could Miller pull off the challenging dual role of twins Zsadist and Phury? Zsadist: guarded, haunted, and scary. Phury: Flamboyant, self-sacrificing, and . . . celibate? No matter. We think he could handle it. We have evidence enough to know he can carry off Z’s scarred baldness, and we’re pretty sure Phury’s colored tresses would frame his face just charmingly. Plus he has the size and the look, and he was pretty damn good on Prison Break, acting a character within a character at times—a character who, in fact, got himself shipped off to prison for the sole purpose of rescuing his brother from Death Row. (That’s totally something Phury would do for Z.) The only thing we think might be an issue is the fact that audiences might have a hard time buying this guy as “celibate,” but—in all honesty—that would be an issue for any actor we would seriously consider for the role.
Known For: Band of Brothers, Men in Trees, Life on Mars (US), Resident Evil: Extinction
Brian “Butch” O’Neal is a tough police detective with the hots for our Beth and little regard for paltry things like the Geneva Convention. He’s a renegade and a rebel, beating up presumed-guilty suspects for fun and profit, until one day he finds himself suspended from the force . . . and forced to believe in vampires. To portray this conflicted soul we envisage the ruggedly appealing Jason O’Mara, known largely for his lead role as a quite different detective: Sam Tyler on the US version of Life on Mars. But it is his small role as über-villain Albert Wesker, from Resident Evil: Extinction, that really gives O’Mara his Butch-y vibe. With enormous subtlety and a certain smug seductiveness, he managed to make the genocidal Wesker an almost engaging character in that movie (which his replacement in the latest installment most certainly did not). Butch, for all that he has good intentions, is not the most stable nor sympathetic of second leads, and so needs all the help he can get to come off—in Dark Lover, at least—as an object worthy of our interest. Most especially because he insists on calling every woman of his acquaintance “baby” . . . it would take a special kind of yum to make that particular trait of his at all watchable, and we feel O’Mara’s just the man for the job.
MR. X, the evildoing, serial-killing lesser upper management: We can’t really picture anyone else but Paul Bettany in this role. Must be the albino thing. We know that Bettany’s not a true albino, of course, but his Da Vinci Code churchy evilness and moral superiority makes for such a perfect lesser that simply no one else will do.
MARISSA, Wrath’s frustrated wife: Marissa needs to be all gentle, deferential, and wraithlike, but also have a core of steel (and untapped sensuality) that you just know is there waiting to be unveiled . . . like, when she meets a certain human cop. We know Amanda Seyfried can play both doe-eyed ingénue and rapacious sex kitten—and we think she and O’Mara would bring the pretty together, too.
HAVERS, Marissa’s brother: Cillian Murphy, come on down, and wow us with your hypnotic blue eyes, your lovely high cheekbones, and your ability to portray good (e.g., his affection for Marissa) and not-so-good (e.g., trying to kill his own king) equally effectively.
DARIUS, Beth’s father: Darius exits stage dead early on, but whoever plays him would need to be believable as both a hardened warrior and a concerned father. David Boreanaz evokes both badassery and groundedness well enough to work in what would essentially be a cameo role.
WELLSIE, Tohrment’s wife: We always liked Titian-haired Wellsie, although she has little to do in Dark Lover besides be friendly to Beth and smile adorably at Tohr. And Joanna Garcia, late of Gossip Girl and currently lighting up Better With You, does have a beautiful smile.
FRITZ, the Brothers’ servant: Wouldn’t it be a kick to see Lost’s Michael Emerson in the role? He’d be subservient, but a little sly. The only danger would be that he’d steal every scene he was in.
THE SCRIBE VIRGIN, timeless, ageless creator of the vampire race: Tiny, commanding, mysterious and volatile . . . could there be an actress alive that is a better fit than Christina Ricci? Her turn in Sleepy Hollow showed clearly that TSV’s studied cadence would pose her no difficulty, and the diminutive Ricci yet has enough presence that we’d feel her there, even under all the draperies mandated by my lady’s concealing taste in fashion.
Additionally, if we were to cast further ahead in the series, Joe Mangianello (werewolf Alcide, of True Blood fame) might be just about hot enough to take on the role of Zsadist’s eventual brother-in-law, Rhevenge, and for silent, beautiful John Matthew (the reincarnation of Darius), we propose The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder—tragic as it would be to seal those wickedly witty lips. And we feel like there has to be a place in the BDB books, somewhere, somehow, for Chris Pine. We just haven’t found it yet. (Qhuinn, maybe?)
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine, of which Kate Nagy is also the Editor at Large.