Forty-two.
December 25, 2004 4:52 AM   Subscribe

Douglas Adams will soon be coming to the silver screen (again). New concept art, casting info, updated news, as well as some background on the project has been diligently compiled. A short trailer and some additional concept art can be found on the official movie site.
posted by rooftop secrets (81 comments total)

 
Douglas Adams will soon be coming to the silver screen

Well, of course, Adams himself shan't be coming... I expect they'll be sending one or other of his books in his stead. Which is altogether a good thing, of course, as his books are generally much more fun at parties than he and can hold considerably more liquor.
posted by Clay201 at 5:14 AM on December 25, 2004


i'm very happy to see simon jones in the cast list (he was arthur in the radio series and the bbc miniseries; in fact, adams wrote arthur dent with him in mind). also, i am super-happy not to see a floozy playing trillian. that girl in the miniseries was ... belgium.
posted by pikachulolita at 6:04 AM on December 25, 2004


While not appearing in the movie, Adams did record the part of Agrajag which is being used in the Tertiary Phase from the BBC.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:21 AM on December 25, 2004


I am neither impressed by the concept art nor the trailer. It lacks a certain 'britishness' that is certainly part of the Hitchhiker's 'feeling'. But I guess not every british author has the luck to find someone like Peter Jackson, to translate his work to the big screen?!
posted by homodigitalis at 6:31 AM on December 25, 2004


Well, it's directed by Hammer and Tongs, who are British, and have done several great (and funny) videos.
posted by O9scar at 6:46 AM on December 25, 2004


EntertainmentTonightFilter
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:07 AM on December 25, 2004


Hmmmm... Marvin looks very similar to Pintsize the anthropc from Questionable Content.
posted by dazed_one at 7:18 AM on December 25, 2004


Shades of the
Wild Wild West;
Ford Prefect is now black.
posted by Mur at 7:46 AM on December 25, 2004


Does the color of the actor really matter as long as he captures the essence of the character?

Remember, the character of Red in "The Shawshank Redemtion "?

Did not Morgan Freeman do a magnificant job in that role?

I'll wait and see how good a job the actor does, and judge it on that basis.
posted by Enjolras at 8:18 AM on December 25, 2004


Does the color of the actor really matter as long as he captures the essence of the character?

Hmmm. How about Danny DeVito as Malcom X?

I would say at some point it DOES matter. Much of the audience that will go to this film will have preconceptions about how it SHOULD be. Changes for the sake of change, rather than to further the telling of the story run the risk of stacking the deck against success.

I hope it turns out my fears are groundless, but...
posted by Enron Hubbard at 8:42 AM on December 25, 2004


Personally, I'm not concerned that Ford Prefect isn't white; I'm concerned that he's not British. At least the Arthur Dent casting was perfect.
posted by thebigpoop at 8:46 AM on December 25, 2004


How about Danny DeVito as Malcom X?

How about at least pretending to realise that your example is a bad one. How about John Travolta as Satchel Paige, or Louis Armstrong for that matter? You get my point.

Fictional characters in many, many, many instances can be played by actors of any race, or gender for that matter.

However it looks like the casting director did a lousy job of even interviewing two-headed actors. I hope someone has spoken to the union.
posted by terrapin at 8:51 AM on December 25, 2004


Personally, I'm not concerned that Ford Prefect isn't white; I'm concerned that he's not British.

Technically, he wasn't British in the books either.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:54 AM on December 25, 2004


Douglas Adams went on record as saying that the only actor who absolutely had to be British was the actor playing Arthur Dent. For everyone else, nationality doesn't matter. I'll give Mos Def a chance.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:08 AM on December 25, 2004


Ford Prefect isn't even human, folks!
posted by sourwookie at 9:09 AM on December 25, 2004


Technically, he wasn't British in the books either.

Beautiful!

As far as Danny Devito as Malcolm X, as has already been pointed out, that example doesn't really hold.

Without race entering into it, I can point out the example of George C. Scott playing Dicken's Fagin. Against a slightly built actor who looked vaguely like Mick Jagger cast as Bill Sykes, there was no way to make the scene where Sykes menaced Fagin believable.

With Scott's size, you would almost have had to cast Andre the Giant as Bill Sykes to make that scene work.

There are some parts an actor will never be able to play convincingly because of their appearance, no matter how great their acting abilities are.
posted by Enjolras at 9:15 AM on December 25, 2004


Why can't Ford Prefect be black? I don't remember anything in the books saying what color he was. Of course, even though he's not really British, I think that it was understood in the books that he has a British accent, at least at the beginning. But I suppose it doesn't really matter. Having him be a black guy with an American accent might signal his 'other-ness' (in Arthur Dent's world) right away, which is not necesarily a bad choice in setting up the character.
posted by bingo at 9:45 AM on December 25, 2004


There is of course no reason whatsoever for Ford to be white or any other particular color.

Mos's acting is tops, and he has a sense of humor. I can't wait. I hadn't previously caught wind of that The Office guy as Arthur and it is a casting decision that gives me great hope for the whole movie. So thanks for the post!
posted by damehex at 9:54 AM on December 25, 2004


I agree with Bingo, nothing in the books said he wasn't black. In fact I think Mos Def is an excellent choice. After all, wasn't one of the points in the book that Ford Prefect hadn't really researched Earth properly before landing here? So why wouldn't he show up in the middle of an English village looking like a black man from midtown London?

Also: Rooftop, no Douglas Adams books have been adapted for 'the silver screen' before. The 'silver screen' is used to refer to movies shown in theaters. The DVD is a re-release of the 1980's BBC 2 TV series.
posted by BartFargo at 10:02 AM on December 25, 2004


I don't remember anything in the book about his race either. If there was anything there, it was extremely minor and unimportant to the story, unlike the role of race in Malcolm X's life.

I do suppose I'd rather it was a Brit, but the comment about his American accent signaling his "other-ness" is also pretty convincing.

BartFargo: "Wasn't one of the points in the book that Ford Prefect hadn't really researched Earth properly before landing here?"

Yes. I think if Douglas Adams were to write the H2G now, he would have named Ford "Honda Accura".
posted by Bugbread at 10:04 AM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]


I am neither impressed by the concept art nor the trailer.

Don't Panic!
posted by Doohickie at 10:14 AM on December 25, 2004


Who is this guy and why is he suddenly in every movie I see??
posted by rushmc at 11:28 AM on December 25, 2004


i am mostly okay with mos def as ford because i suspect he will do a good job fitting the description of "smiles a bit too wide, like he's about to lunge for your neck" (paraphrase).
posted by pikachulolita at 11:30 AM on December 25, 2004


The problem with the trailer is that it's not even a sample of what's to come in the film, but pure teaser advertisement designed to whelm you on the big screen. Hard to judge anything from that, honestly.
posted by mek at 11:39 AM on December 25, 2004


My only real concern is that the film will turn out to be yet another enormous special-effects orgy, overwhelming an actual story.
The BBC production had that low-budget quaintness that seemed to fit the story so well. I found that to be very endearing.
I suppose to succeed in the shadow of the original, this production will have to become something entirely different, if, for no other reason, than to utterly avoid any basis of real comparison.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:10 PM on December 25, 2004


sheesh, black, white, as long as he's funny. Of course no one is actually asking the real question: if this thing is actually good then are we goign to get all 5 (6?) books of the ill named trilogy.

this and star wars on May 17th, it's gonna be a good summer
posted by NGnerd at 12:34 PM on December 25, 2004


Myself, I would like to see Dirk Gently come to the movies. Maybe in a long-running series like 007?
posted by nathanrudy at 12:36 PM on December 25, 2004


Ford is one of the whitest characters ever in literature, IMO. Worst possible casting.
posted by abcde at 12:48 PM on December 25, 2004


I'm a bit worried about their plans for Zaphod's second head... they seem to be going some sort of bizarre second-face-in-the-neck thing. I don't know what to think about that.

Go knock your heads together.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:07 PM on December 25, 2004


abcde, Ford isn't not so much white as he is British. A black English actor would have been just fine. The trouble with casting him with an American actor (who, I understand, does not attempt an Engilsh accent in this film) is that all of Ford's lines have to be rewritten, because the lines are very, very English and would sound ridiculous if not spoken by an English persona (yes, I know he's an alien, but his speech patterns are pure Home Counties, so drop it). You couldn't have an American-sounding Sherlock Holmes without rewriting everything he says and causing outrage among the fans. It would probably have been better to rewrite the character entirely and give him a new name.

Mos Def may do a wonderful job, but it seems very unlikely that he'll really be the Ford Prefect of the books.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:11 PM on December 25, 2004


[er, "isn't", not "isn't not".]
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:11 PM on December 25, 2004


Ford is one of the whitest characters ever in literature, IMO. Worst possible casting.

Refresh me as to why. I remember Arthur as being ludicrously white, but what aspects of Ford were bleached white?
posted by Bugbread at 1:27 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]


I remember Arthur as being ludicrously white, but what aspects of Ford were bleached white?

Attitude.

I am still afraid that the whole movie is too much americanized/disneyfied.
posted by homodigitalis at 1:34 PM on December 25, 2004


Er...British attitude, I can understand, but: white attitude? What's that?
posted by Bugbread at 1:39 PM on December 25, 2004 [1 favorite]


Also: Rooftop, no Douglas Adams books have been adapted for 'the silver screen' before. The 'silver screen' is used to refer to movies shown in theaters. The DVD is a re-release of the 1980's BBC 2 TV series.

Good point. My apologies...it was about 4 in the morning when I put that up.
posted by rooftop secrets at 1:42 PM on December 25, 2004


have to say i always imagined marvin looking similar to the android in forbidden planet... but i think i'll like this new one.

and although i initially had some reservations about mos def as ford, i think it could work quite well.

and the casting for arthur is sheer genius!!
posted by knapah at 1:57 PM on December 25, 2004



Attitude.


I read all five books for the first time in the past year, and I can honestly say I didn't get that white/British thing from Ford Prefect, and I surely didn't get the impression that it was central to his character. Are you guys sure you're not projecting your own image (perhaps gleened from the miniseries) onto the character?

Regardless, the key to a good adaptation is not found in things like "the britishness" of characters. I think a lot of people fall into that trap, but when transferring mediums--especially when you're moving from books that are heavily reliant on funny inner dialogue and strange phrasing--there are going to be some major differences. I've always thought the most important aspect was to capture the essential essence of the original. Let's face it, folks, the books are still going to be there; the miniseries is still going to be there. Adams wrote the script and seemed to have little or no problem with any of the decisions thus far. If it's executed properly, it should be a wonderful film. If, however, you go in looking for a re-telling of the book, you'll probably be tragically disappointed, as hardcore fanboys/girls often seem to be.
posted by The God Complex at 2:00 PM on December 25, 2004


(the essential essence was kind of a joke, by the way, if anyone thinks i went crazy. i can't help saying at least one abnormal thing when i write about hitchhiker ;P)
posted by The God Complex at 2:02 PM on December 25, 2004


The use of "It's a Wonderful World" seems to be a nice nod to the radio show, which also used it.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2004


There's no reason why Mos Def can't pull off Ford. I think maybe the reason why people think Ford Prefect should be white is from the radio shows. It's hard to imagine not having that back and forth patter of two thoroughly British accents after listening to the shows.
posted by loquacious at 2:19 PM on December 25, 2004


I attended a comic book convention in the late eighties at which longtime Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner fielded questions regarding the selection of Sylvester McCoy to play the seventh Doctor. In response to audience questions, he said he had considered and would consider in the future a female for the role of the Doctor, but not an American. He seemed to think that the Doctor was sort of a British hero, that he belonged to the UK in much the same way as King Arthur or Robin Hood. Of course, we should keep in mind that this was a British TV show, not a movie with an international audience.
posted by Clay201 at 2:34 PM on December 25, 2004


It's an interesting kind of homage to "Brother From Another Planet," which just might work.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:34 PM on December 25, 2004


oh man, their casting for slartibartfast seems terrible. maybe this guy will do a good job, but he is supposed to be a very confused old man, not a rivendell elf.

boy, am i exposing my inner nerd today.
posted by pikachulolita at 2:41 PM on December 25, 2004


Once again about 'britishness':

1. Hitchhikers started as a radio serial for the BBC - the books came much later.

2. Douglas Adams was NEVER very happy with the tv adaption - although it did several things in a great way - like the 'computer graphics'.

3. Brit SciFi has a long tradition - not just Doctor Who. They rely much more on character then action, gadgets and special effects - that's what makes them different and - IMHO - more enjoyable.

4. Yes, Ford is an alien, but Douglas Adams certainly portrait him in a very british oder better say english way. I've lived two years in the UK - and from my experience Ford & Arthur make a very odd english couple. I am simply afraid of a sort of Jar Jar Binks / Rappers Delight version of Ford.

5. The Hitchhikers cosmos is based on a certain britishness in it's humor and characters (just like the Dirk Gently novels) - so I see no point in weakening that aspect just for a broader audience. LOTR is mostly white guys as well - nobody came up with the idea to make Gandalf asian and all Hobbits green martians?!
posted by homodigitalis at 3:09 PM on December 25, 2004


The directors are English. I think that will counteract a lot of the casting.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:48 PM on December 25, 2004


I am simply afraid of a sort of Jar Jar Binks / Rappers Delight version of Ford.

I'm sorry. Please tell me you're just trying and failing to be funny, because you really ought to do a little research before swinging that broad of a stereotypical bat.

First of all, let's look at your Jar Jar reference. Obviously, you didn't care for Ahmed Best's contribution to the Star Wars franchise. Fine. Few of us did. Why? Well, looking at Best's limited experience involving actually speaking in a dramatic role -- actually, having been picked out by Lucas from a Stomp chorus line, I believe we can assume he had close to none -- he had to make do with the direction he was given and little else. On the other hand, Mos Def has been acting on-screen, on telly and on stage since 1988. While he has yet to win an Oscar, he has been nominated for a Tony and his 2002 Broadway performance in Topdog/Underdog had critics applauding.

Second, let's think about "Rapper's Delight" -- a 1979 hit that arguably introduced hip-hop to the world-at-large -- and how it relates to Mos Def. Have you even bothered to listen to Mos Def? From your twenty-years-out-of-date reference, you seem to have a stunted knowledge of the man's talent and repetoire. Even if you have no taste for hip-hop, you should realize that the genre has evolved substantially over the last two decades and has splintered off into many different styles and deliveries. Mos Def is one of the more innovative of today's pack, taking risks that often run against the grain of run-of-the-mill pop music. His last album, The New Danger, forsook (for the most part) the use of turntables and samples in favor of a live band composed of veterans borrowed from the band Living Colour. While music critics gave the album a lukewarm reception, none of them would say any of it sounded a bit like The Sugar Hill Gang. They're the ones who recorded "Rapper's Delight" -- just so you know.

Will he make a good Ford Prefect? I don't know. Personally, I would've gone with Tricky, 'cause he made a pretty slick (albeit doomed) henchman in The Fifth Element. But based on his record, I think you can count on Mos Def giving a performance miles better than the stereotypical limitations you're assuming.
posted by grabbingsand at 4:39 PM on December 25, 2004


The very idea that because Mos Def is being cast, all of a sudden it's going to be a "Jar Jar Binks / Rappers Delight" sort of thing...Jesus Christ, man. Mos Def is a terrific actor, and while ultra-racist producers may certainly roam the earth*, cross-casting for a black man does not mean it's going to descend into Steppin Fetchit territory. Yeesh!

Besides, I can't imagine even for a second Mos Def allowing himself to be degraded like that. I, for one, welcome him as Ford Prefect. I thought he was the best part of Monster's Ball, and whenever he shows up on Chappelle's show he makes me laugh. I also enjoy his physical presence. He has an attractive but slightly "other," haggard look. I like, I like.

My only concern is that he is not putting on a British accent, but I think so much else about the production seems quite right to me that I'm willing to trust both Def himself and Hammer and Tongs with this choice. We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm open to the movie having a fresh take on very, very familiar material.

*I remember a story John Landis told about being sent the script to Bringing Down the House. He sent it back with a note that it was the single most vile, racist piece of garbage he'd ever been offered. Imagine his surprise when he saw the trailer...that it was MADE...that it was HIT!
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:11 PM on December 25, 2004


grabbingsand: thank you. I too said, "huh?" when I read Mos Def got the part. Your comment about the man's talent speaks volumes about why he could be an inspired choice.

The idea when casting is to find the actor who can best portray the part and, most of all, give a truly professional job. Good actors make us believe they were always the best person for the role.

I've always looked at HHGG as a work in progress. If he had lived for another 100 years I believe Adams would have changed it for every media format created.
posted by ?! at 5:15 PM on December 25, 2004


have to say i always imagined marvin looking similar to the android in forbidden planet

Android != robot.
posted by rushmc at 5:21 PM on December 25, 2004


When I first saw that Mos Def was going to be Ford, I paused for a moment, but thinking about it now, it sounds great. I think he can really pull it off.
God, I really can't wait for this. I'm getting all fanboy.
posted by 235w103 at 5:39 PM on December 25, 2004


Yes, heavens to betsy, they've cast a nigger in the role of Ford Prefect! Time for the libertarian geeks to gets on their Klan robes, because any way you slice the cheese, they should have cast the whitest cracker as Ford. Why, Ford Prefect ain't no British at all! Even if Ford Prefect comes from another planet, a la Sayles, or the casting of Mos Def might actually create a daring new chemistry, the important thing is to never consider a brother as an alien. Not even a badass like Samuel L. Jackson. Because we all know that Mos Def belongs in roles that involve crack pipes and WB sitcom stereotypes. How dare he siphon his talent!
posted by ed at 6:38 PM on December 25, 2004


Some thoughts, from a Hitchhikker's junkie:

I don't really get the arguement about Mos Def. As long as he can get the essence of Ford, which to me means being able to portray an out of work actor, and convey and certain flippant regard for life, the universe and everything. Oh, and he has to have a towel.

The Marvin and Heart of Gold drawings don't really strike me as Hitchhikker's. Marvin seems a little too streamlined, a little less prototype. I mean, his head is planet shaped, but that's really all the design has going for it. Plus, Marvin looks cutesy, which doesn't really seem to be Marvin. Granted it could work. It'd be like finding a sucidally depressed teddy bear.

The heart of gold as a sphere doesn't really do anything. It's described in the books as tennis shoe shaped. Not that you have to follow the books, but a sphere seems somewhat standard.

Finally, I love the teaser, but I think it does nothing for people who don't know the series, more specifically the radio and/or tv versions. Unless you've seen either of those versions there's no understanding of "What a wonderful world". Plus, the "most amazing adventure" lines seem forced and a little too Hollywood. As a fan though, it hits just about every point I want in a teaser. Armstrong, world exploding, don't panic, and 42. All in a nice, little package.
posted by Be'lal at 7:40 PM on December 25, 2004


Black people? In Movies? What type of science fiction year 3000 bullshit is this!
posted by iamck at 7:50 PM on December 25, 2004


Casting Sam Rockwell as Zaphod is such a good idea I'm annoyed I didn't think of it myself!
posted by John Shaft at 7:58 PM on December 25, 2004


Will he make a good Ford Prefect? I don't know. Personally, I would've gone with Tricky, 'cause he made a pretty slick (albeit doomed) henchman in The Fifth Element.

Tricky's said he hated acting and will never do it again, though.
posted by abcde at 8:17 PM on December 25, 2004


Sam Rockwell is indeed such a right choice you're glad the movie's being made now. I don't have an objection on principle to Mos Def, as long as they get his role correct in relation to Arthur -- and the one thing that Ford was in relation to Arthur was cool. Hip, self-aware, thinking several steps ahead of his pal, and inexplicably yet convincingly interested in dragging the dunderhead along (it must be a deep-seated need for an audience). Trillian has a bit of the same, and I imagine that Zooey can handle the job there just as well. Nor do I care how they go about giving Zaphod two heads, as long as they can argue (which the TV latex version was distinctly weak at).

The teaser made a few nice references but while the role of a teaser is to do little more than create a sense of anticipation it seemed a little off in tone. The world blowing up seemed more of a ho-hum (by now) summer-movie dramatic thing than, y'know, mordantly dark humour. (I wonder if there's a post-9/11 thing there too, really.)

Plus I'm actually pleased that the script had to be given a once-over (or more than once) by a professional screenwriter. Douglas had much talent and inventiveness but poor self-editing skills.
posted by dhartung at 9:30 PM on December 25, 2004


Douglas had much talent and inventiveness but poor self-editing skills.

It wasn't so much poor self-editing as world-class abilities of procrastination. He never edited anything because he never wrote anything until his publisher was breaking down his door.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:09 PM on December 25, 2004


I actually remember hearing a year or two ago that Mos Def was going to be playing Ford, and thinking "that's a totally inspired casting decision." It plays to the strengths of both the actor and the character, and it's also a real surprise for people who know of either of them only casually.
posted by 88robots at 10:25 PM on December 25, 2004


Mos Def as Ford, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod and Simon Freeman as Arthur is the best casting I've seen in a film for a long time.

As to the Black != "Essentially English" argument, us actual Brits are hoping this is the new James Bond.
posted by fullerine at 11:59 PM on December 25, 2004


Very strange - I never said anything NEGATIVE about the talents of Mr. Mos Def - neither anything about black people in general. So please stick to what I wrote and don't make any strange conclussions about my racial preferences.

My main point is: I just hope they don't try to make Hitchhikers more political correct and multi cultural then it is - just to make it appeal to more people.

Douglas Adams was certainly not a person stuck in an all 'white frame of mind' - like some other scifi writers. BUT if he wanted to use certain races and references he would have done so - but in Fords case he didn't.

Look at what happened to Earthsea and how the SciFi channel whitewashed it.

The character of Benjiamin Sisko in Deep Space 9 was well done and had the right 'feeling' to it. There is even the great episode 'Far Beyond the Stars' in which Sisko finds himself as a science fiction writer in the american 1950's - when nobody would accept a black nor female writer. It's one of the best episodes of DS9 ...

Any actor if he or she is good can play any role. I just recently saw a recording of the Zauberflöte (Metropolitan Opera 1991), were a white guy (painted in black) played Monostatos, while Pamina's part was sung by a terrific Kathleen Battle.

And the text of the opera certainly describes her as more white as chalk:

Papageno: "Schön Mädchen, jung und rein, viel weißer noch als Kreide."

I agree that movies, radio serials and books are very different forms of story telling. There are already great differences between the original radio bradcasts and the books.

Peter Jackson has shown that you can change details, but still keep the original feeling and drama.
posted by homodigitalis at 2:29 AM on December 26, 2004


I expect they'll be sending one or other of his books in his stead. Which is altogether a good thing, of course, as his books are generally much more fun at parties than he and can hold considerably more liquor.

Is this true? Have you ever met him in person?
posted by aerify at 4:35 AM on December 26, 2004


As to the Black != "Essentially English" argument

Dunno if there's much of that argument being made. There are two parallel arguments I see: "But he's not British!" and "But he's black!". A few "But he's not British, and he's black!" Not much "But he's black, and therefore not British!".

Personally, I'd have preferred a black British actor, but that's probably because I've never seen a movie with Mos Def in it. I'm sure, given the accolades he's being given here, that I'll be pleasantly surprised.
posted by Bugbread at 4:47 AM on December 26, 2004 [1 favorite]


I never said anything NEGATIVE about the talents of Mr. Mos Def

You compared him to Jar Jar Binks.
posted by ODiV at 6:41 AM on December 26, 2004


Arguing about whether or not Mos Def is going to play the role well is silly, I think; he either will or he won't, and whether or not he's a black guy from Brooklyn won't have the slightest thing to do with it. The guy's done good work so far. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.

And as far as having to change lines of dialogue from the book to fit the new Ford... you always have to change lines of dialogue from the book. There have probably been about 5 books in history that would actually work on the screen as is. The MALTESE FALCON might; I don't know the other 4. Some books might make good movies, but almost no books ARE movies. They don't play by the same rules.

I fully agree with God Complex -- the fans (like me) already own 8 copies of all the books, and have read them all 20 times. To narrowly tailor something as amazing as HHGG to the 5% fanboy fringe (me again), aside from being absolutely financially infeasible, would be masturbatory and selfish. The worst possible HHGG will not change a word in the copy I have on my shelf. And a good one will lead millions more people to read and enjoy the books, which is what real fans of DNA's work should want.
posted by luckywanderboy at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2004


Above should read "The worst possible HHGG film adaptation." Sorry.
posted by luckywanderboy at 7:06 AM on December 26, 2004


The sort of person who would complain about Mos Def as Ford Prefect is the same sort who objected to Michael Clark Duncan as the Kingpin. I find myself much more concerned about Zaphod's relocated head than I could ever be about Ford's complexion. Douglas specifically wrote that the two heads were side by side, in such a manner that one could be covered by a birdcage. And I'm not happy about the non-tennis-shoe-shaped Heart of Gold, either. I do, however, like the new short Marvin. He looks so undignified, which is perfect.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:14 AM on December 26, 2004


I think Mos Def for Ford is a fantastic selection, and I also think the casting of Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin was horrific. My opinion has always been that comics represent a visual historical interpretation of a character unlike radio or books.

We never really knew what Ford looked like, for example, outside of vague descriptions Adams wrote in the books. And as already addressed, he's not even human, let alone held to any racial background. On the other hand, we have know for forty years exactly what Kingpin looks like, just as much as Superman, Batman, and for that matter, real people depicted in movies. As a comic fan, casting a black man as a white comic character is as historically insulting as suggesting a white actor could have played Malcolm X "because he's a really good actor; isn't that all that matters?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2004


In the (rather unsuccessful) computer-altered-photo-illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide hardcover from the early 90s Zaphod was black. Seemed to work okay, as much as anything else in that version. Add in Mos Def's acting ability and I don't see what the problem is.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:23 AM on December 26, 2004


Yes, heavens to betsy, they've cast a nigger in the role of Ford Prefect! Time for the libertarian geeks to gets on their Klan robes, because any way you slice the cheese, they should have cast the whitest cracker as Ford

Take a pill. Upgrade the hat to reynolds wrap. Please note also, ed, that white guys saying "cracker," does not impress people and merely makes you look stupid.

I do recall Ford sounding definitely very British, but you're right, race was never mentioned. Also, Mos Def does posess a smidgen of that inscrutable goofiness that I always found in Ford Prefect, so I'm looking forward to it.
posted by jonmc at 9:33 AM on December 26, 2004


XQUZYPHYR: It's not like Michael Clark Duncan was cast as the original Kingpin character. The character was remade for the screen version. If you see that as a problem, then so be it, but it wasn't poor casting it was a poor adaptation. I view that sort of change on the level of Spidey's bio web shooters.

And I've really enjoyed Mos Def in everything I've seen him in. Arthur and Trillian look like a brilliant choices as well. I'm mostly worried about Marvin (It's probably involves the timing of when I read the books, but I've always seen Marvin as a Johnny 5 knock off :P ).
posted by ODiV at 9:43 AM on December 26, 2004


Ford's lines were written for an English persona; apart from his his phrasings and euphemisms, he always claimed to be from Guildford, so you definitely need to do some rewriting if you're going to give him an American accent.

On the other hand, apart from one mysterious incident in Islington, Zaphod has never pretended to be from Earth at all, and since he talks like one of those fake American DJs that saturate the UK airwaves anyway, an American-sounding Zaphod would have worked without any rewriting.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:37 AM on December 26, 2004


As to the Black != "Essentially English" argument, us actual Brits are hoping this is the new James Bond.
posted by fullerine

Colin Salmon. OMG. He would be fricking king... an it would give the ex-Broccoli crew an opportunity to say that 007 was just a cover that's been recycled by many different operatives over the years. (a ret con? yes, but it's been decades in coming) Mr. Salmon would be absolutely amazing in that role... BUT...

American/Hollywood studios won't let it happen. Just because they're too provincial, and the !Mos\ Def argument would probably hold water for the mall-rat marketers.

HOWEVER, MGM (the studio that owns Jas. Bond) has recently changed hands, and is now owned by Sony, Liberty Media (Starz-Encore) and several other partners. I *could* see Liberty being progressive about the matter, and Sony would also get aboard. While not Vin Diesel, Salmon is definitely one of the coolest actors around (Prime Suspect 2, anyone?). In fact, it was either Dalton or Brosnan who gave Salmon their own endorsement.

Here's to hoping...
posted by vhsiv at 11:46 AM on December 26, 2004


I like Salmon and just casting a man of color as Bond would be an amazing act of coolness. But... I'd really like to see a person in the 30-35 age range, who could run for 20 years and six or seven films, chosen. Salmon will be 40 in 2005, which is younger than I expected but a bit older than I'd like.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2004


Colin Salmon also has a minor recurring role in the Brosnan Bond films. He'd make a brilliant Bond, but it would make watching the Brosnan ones a little odd; almost as if being James Bond was something you could be promoted to within the service.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2004


almost as if being James Bond was something you could be promoted to within the service.

Isn't it? How else could you explain "Bond" fighting for the Crown in the prime of health for the better part of a century while looking, at various times, like half a dozen different people? "M" is a role passed on from person to person; so is "Q." Why not "James Bond"? Bring on a non-white Bond, I say. I don't know about Salmon, though. I'm not sure if I could ever accept a James Bond named after a fish.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:52 PM on December 26, 2004


I'm just excited to have another one of my favorite books make it to the big screen. First LOTR, and now this? Great. Let's hope C.S Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet is next.
posted by Samsonov14 at 1:14 PM on December 26, 2004


Let's hope C.S Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet is next.

Well, it's not from the Space Trilogy, but check this out.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2004


American/Hollywood studios won't let it happen. Just because they're too provincial

That neatly explains why Will Smith isn't a star, and has never taken on roles in remakes that had been played by white dudes in the original.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:14 PM on December 26, 2004


I do recall Ford sounding definitely very British,

I really never got that. Ford was the cool one. His britishness was always half-assed in my mind - arthur was just such a naive, accepting british guy that his response was always, "ah, well, that's how that is then," without ever questioning things, like why ford would have a car's name... Arthur was 100% brit, but ford was a hoopy frood, you know? I'm interested to see how it'll turn out with this casting, but it could definitely work.

The two heads thing is a problem though.
But adaptations are always problems anyway... it will never be the way you imagined it, so you have to be ready to enjoy someone else's version on totally different terms than you enjoy the original in your own head.
posted by mdn at 4:50 PM on December 26, 2004


One thing about Ford- he always knew where is towel was.
posted by Doohickie at 5:34 PM on December 26, 2004


ed: Time for the libertarian geeks to gets on their Klan robes

WTF?
posted by oncogenesis at 8:55 PM on December 29, 2004


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