Character Study: The Captain of Kinnoull Hill
Jamie Tennant's The Captain of Kinnoull Hill (Palimpsest Press) follows unlikeable music snob Dennis Duckworth as he finds himself stranded and broke in rural Scotland after his flight from New York mysteriously changes course. Filled with musical references and touches of magic realism, the novel features a cast of quirky characters like a grumpy thousand-year-old goblin who secretly loves to read and a surly record store clerk, making The Captain of Kinnoull Hill the perfect fit for this edition of Character Study.See more details below
Jamie Tennant's The Captain of Kinnoull Hill (Palimpsest Press) follows unlikeable music snob Dennis Duckworth as he finds himself stranded and broke in rural Scotland after his flight from New York mysteriously changes course. Filled with musical references and touches of magic realism, the novel features a cast of quirky characters like a grumpy thousand-year-old goblin who secretly loves to read and a surly record store clerk, making The Captain of Kinnoull Hill the perfect fit for this edition of Character Study.
Dennis Duckworth played by High Fidelity-era John Cusack
Dennis, when we first encounter him, is a smug, condescending, egotistical jerk prone to petulance. Yet somehow, we like the guy. Why? He’s boyishly good-looking, charming, and underneath it all, we sense he wants to be a better person. Dennis pretty much is a Cusack character; he’s High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon, blustering about, doing his best to camouflage the uncertain, insecure Lloyd Dobler beneath. We also know he’s believable as a music nerd.
Eddie the Red Cap played by a slightly younger Billy Connolly
Connolly is perhaps too on the nose, but we already went with Cusack, so why not? Connolly is known for his dry but occasionally caustic sense of humour, coupled with a personality that seems more thoughtful and soft-spoken than his stage persona suggests. Combine that with the physicality of Connolly’s older stand-up material, and he’s pretty much Eddie in human form (to be fair Connolly, though there’s no physical resemblance, other than perhaps the hair).
Margaret Donleavy played by Kate Winslet
Winslet would have absolutely zero trouble capturing the down-to-earth, vaguely troubled Margaret. Sure, she might seem a touch glamourous for tending bar at the Rat and Raven, but tone that glamour down and the actor has the right qualities—inherently kind, independent, not the type to suffer fools lightly. Yes, she suffers Dennis’ foolishness, but not without some internal conflict; in the end, let’s face it, he’s lucky she didn’t slam the door in his face.
Elizabeth “Abby” Wojcinski played by Karen Gillan
Stick with us here. Gillian is a young red-haired Scottish actress who, at first consideration, appears too wholesome to play the slightly surly, dark-haired, lip-pierced Abby. How do we know she can play bitter, flat-affected, and bored? Nebula. In Guardians of the Galaxy (seriously, stick with us here) she plays a celestial badass named Nebula whose attitude is like Abby’s galactic extra-evil twin. Let her speak in her own accent (and maybe, uh, not paint her blue) and she’d be perfect.
Gillian “Gigi” Gent played by Susan Calman
Susan Calman is not likely well known to most in this country, but she’s a Scottish actor and comedian whose sense of humour has won her several comedy awards and landed her various panelist and presenter roles on the BBC. She’d play an enthusiastic and eccentric Gigi, and it would be fun to see her in the role. In fact, it would be, as Gigi might say, lovely.
Bruce McKee played by a pre-St. Elsewhere William Daniels
How do you describe a character as “resembling John Cleese” without actually suggesting the role go to John Cleese? Such casting is possibly too meta and too distracting for audiences, so let’s go for the guy even IMDB says looks like Cleese, William Daniels. Would the actor have had the chops to suggest Bruce McKee’s inner life? Hah! There is no inner life. McKee is a fairly one-dimensional jerk. If Daniels could be arrogant, cranky and pull off the Scottish accent, he’d be fine.
Paul McDermott played by Patton Oswalt
Oswalt could literally phone this in, since we never see Paul—he’s merely a voice on the telephone. Turn Oswalt to “extra dry” and his voice works perfectly.
Kit Carson played by Brendan MacFarlane
It’s tempting to go for a popular singer for this role, but the more popular the singer, the more distracting the stunt casting. We’ll take young up’n’comer Brendan MacFarlane, who became popular on Youtube via ten-year-old videos of him singing as a child. Though he’s recently come into a spot of trouble (he was arrested, but not charged, for assault) he fits the bill—nineteen and boyishly handsome, he’s a fine singer whose voice isn’t exactly as described in the book, but then again, that would be a tall order to find. Bonus fact: he’s a local, born and raised in Perth, Scotland.
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Thanks to Liz Ross at Palimpsest Press for playing casting director for this edition of Character Study. For more in-depth examinations of your favourite protagonists, click here.
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