In my last post, I gave brief descriptions of the lead characters from three series of thrillers I have been reading in recent years. I read a lot of other stuff, too — fiction and non-fiction — but these three sort of group together in my mind. Now, I thought I would take a stab at fan-casting these guys, since you just know they are on their way to the (big or small) screen. I’ll cover Rapp today and Harvath in another day or two. I’ll get to Reacher next week.
Surprisingly, I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about casting either Vince Flynn’s or Brad Thor’s hero prior to a few weeks ago. But, I came up with a few candidates for these posts. Both characters are Caucasian, handsome, and very physically fit, of course. Mitch Rapp is said to have dark features, thanks to some Native American ancestry, which come in handy when undercover in Arab countries. In the first Mitch Rapp novel, Transfer of Power, Rapp is described as a 31-year-old, seasoned operative, with black hair (and often a beard), a steely gaze, and “one hundred ninety pounds of solid, lean muscle.” I think he was described elsewhere as being about 6′ tall — maybe give-or-take an inch. He apparently put on even more mass (and definition?) over the next couple years or so, since I remember a line from Executive Power (aka Rapp #4) that he was then in the best shape of his life.
Fan-casting for this early-30s version of Rapp might not be too hard, except for the “dark features” bit. Manu Bennett would have been in the running, but he is already in his mid 40s. (Rapp doesn’t reach his 40s until Pursuit of Honor (aka Rapp #10), which brings him to the present.) I have not found the perfect casting choice, but there are a couple of strong possibilities.
D.J. Cotrona (5’10.5″,b.1980)
Cotrona co-stars in the current “From Dusk Till Dawn” TV series and was in “Detroit 1-8-7” before that. Of course, as you can see from this pic, he also played one of the heroes in G.I. Joe: Retaliation last year. He has the “dusky skin” (being of mixed heritage) and already has the muscular physique needed for Rapp. He is slightly shorter than I would prefer, but not enough to eliminate him from consideration. (Looks comfortable with a weapon, too.) All in all, a pretty good choice.
Adam Rayner (6’1″,b.1977)
Although already crossing from mid- into late-30s, I think Rayner might be an even better choice than Cotrona. He is closer to the height I think we want for Rapp, for one thing. I first ran across him in the British TV series “Hunted” a couple years ago, but he has also starred as “Simon Templar” in a TV movie remake of The Saint, appeared in the web series “Dragon Age: Redemption”, and currently plays a Middle-Eastern character in “Tyrant”. Bulk him up a bit, and I think Rayner could just be our Mitch Rapp.
Last minute entry: JD Pardo (5’11”,b.1980), late of “Revolution”, though he might look too Latino for Rapp.
Unfortunately, the movie currently being developed is based on the first of two prequels, American Assassin, which chronicles Rapp’s recruitment by the CIA at the age of 23, his early training and first mission. Obviously, the actor must be much younger. Also, while young Rapp had been an All-American athlete in college, and his initial CIA training was quite intense, he should be leaner than the older version will be. Various big names have been thrown around, including Chris Hemsworth (too big and too old), but last I read, no one has been officially cast to play our novice hero. Just a couple days ago, I finally found a young 20-something actor who I think might be a good candidate for the younger Rapp….
Brenton Thwaites (6’1.5″,b.1989)
F.y.i., Thwaites has been in Oculus, the just-released The Signal, and the upcoming The Giver. He is the right general height, fairly fit, and I’m sure a training regimen could whip him into shape to play Mitch Rapp fresh out of college. (In fact, he might make a decent 20-something Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson, too.) I haven’t watched or heard him in anything but a trailer for The Signal, though, so I haven’t been able to assess his acting ability or charisma.
One bit of actual casting news re American Assassin: Bruce Willis signed on to play, as Flynn put it, “the surly Stan Hurley, a character that I created with him [i.e., Willis] in mind.”
Aaaaaand, that’s a Rapp!