This interesting tidbit came to my attention via Facebook: a film adaptation of Mark Obmascik’s The Big Year is in development. According to this page on the New York Times, the cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. The director is listed as David Frankel, and the genre is listed as adaptation, comedy and period (the story takes place in 1998). According to IMDbPro, the production companies are Deuce Three Productions and DreamWorks SKG, with Carol Fenelon and Curtis Hanson on board to produce.
I read The Big Year a few months ago and I thought it would make a great movie. The casting has me a bit puzzled, though.
**mild spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t read the book **
** here come the spoilers **
The book covers the competition between three birders attempting a North American Big Year – they’re trying to see the most bird species in the continental United States and Canada. The year is 1998 and the three players are Sandy Komito, Al Levantin and Greg Miller.
I figure Sandy Komito was about 66 years old during The Big Year. He had worked as a salesman, and was known in the birding community as “the loud wisecracker from New Jersey.” Reading the book, I pictured him as looking something like Dan Hedaya. I would guess Dustin Hoffman would be cast as Komito. There’s a photo of Komito towards the bottom of this page, but I can’t figure out when it was taken (1997?).
At the start of the big year, Greg Miller was working systems for a nuclear power plant, getting ready for Y2K. He was recently divorced, overweight, and sad. “Forty years old and alone and no children-he hadn’t pictured his life this way.” It’s not at all hard for me to picture Jack Black in this role. There’s a photo of Greg Miller about a quarter of the way down this page, which was apparently taken around 2004.
In 1998, Levantin was a business executive recently retired after a 40-year career. As Obmascik describes him, “He was sixty-six years old, but often accused of lying about his age. With an outdoorsy pink in his cheeks, slate-blue eyes, and shoulders that still packed some muscle, he looked fifty. He acted thirty. He had charisma.” In my mind he looks kind of like Alan Dale.
So of those three main characters, I’m trying to figure out where Owen Wilson fits in. Could he play the part of narrator, or of Mark Obmascik, the book’s author? Obmascik doesn’t actually follow the birders around during 1998, but maybe the screenplay will work that way. What do you think? Have you read The Big Year? Who would you cast as the three leads? Are there any other roles – Kenn Kaufman, Debra Shearwater, etc – you would like to see cast a certain way?