Character Study: Wait Softly Brother

Writer Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer had an extra challenge when donning our patented Character Study casting director’s cap: her novel Wait Softly Brother (Wolsak & Wynn) is autofictional, featuring a Kathryn character – herself – in the story. Read on to see the film royal (two times over!) she chose to play the silver-screen version of herself, as well as the other key characters from the book.


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The Cast of Wait Softly Brother, as picked by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Olivia Colman as KathrynI want Olivia Colman to play Kathryn, my avatar in Wait Softly Brother, the autofictional novel of made-up facts about my life. She would be playing a robustly furious woman fresh from leaving her marriage and children, now trapped by weather and design in her childhood home with her difficult and aging parents. She’s a frustrated writer trying to find a way out of her current narrative. Colman would bring her slightly baffled and irascible Queen Anne (The Favorite) as well as her simperingly underappreciated Valerie (Flowers) selves to this role and the world would finally see the real me. Ha!Susan Sarandon as Kathryn’s mumI would love to see the star of Thelma and Louise play Olivia Colman’s mother – two incredible feminist icons holding ground against one another as mother-daughter in a story exposing the patriarchy as fake news. I mean yes. Sarandon will be a brilliant matriarch, upholding her role as mother and wife meanwhile battling down a secret that has defined her as it inevitably and painfully rises to the surface.Dustin Hoffman as Kathryn’s dadHe is my perfect Dad. Avuncular and mean – he can do it all. My Dad in Wait Softly Brother would do anything to stop Kathryn (me) from getting what she wants and he would do anything to protect his wife from Kathryn’s demands. I can see Hoffman bumbling along the back fifty in Wellington boots even as I write.Come to think of it, I would love Hoffman, Sarandon, and Colman to play supporting roles in the interior American Civil War story in Wait Softly Brother, a violent narrative that burbles up out of Kathryn/Colman’s overactive psyche. I could see Hoffman playing one of the Irish police officers who arrests Boyt, Sarandon as a cruel head nurse in the asylum he is ultimately housed in, and Colman as one of the picnickers at the edge of a battle, watching gleefully as men slaughter one another.Alex Lawther as Russell BoytThe perfect mix of troubled and conniving, Lawther, who played James, the young psychopath in The End of the F***ing World is an easy Boyt, himself a misguided substitute soldier in a war he barely understands, fighting for his own sanity and failing badly at almost everything he does. He is weak in the face of his own lust, tragic against his own vision of himself as heroic. His own father thinks him a milquetoast. I love Lawther’s baleful eyes. I love him for this role.Ayesha Harris as Cristiana MuldonAyesha Harris looks like I imagined Cristiana to look – tough, strong, willful and empowered but also empathic, a seer of truth in the face of many lies. She conveys in the roles I’ve seen a great deal of emotion (and intellect) with very little give away. She’s a subtle actor and I think she’d be great in the role of Cristiana, a freed slave trying through whatever means she has to gain power over Russell Boyt, a weak and frail white man, whose insanity is emblematic of a sick patriarchy. It’s important that we see Cristiana as the master even if Boyt thinks he deserves the role simply because he is white and male. If he stands in for the whole of what has been wrong in story we’ve all been living these last 300 years, she represents truth and how it is buried again and again so the predominant story can carry on with its exploitation. Harris (Glamorous, Daisy Jones & the Six) is a relatively new actor but, from what I have seen, she has chops. She’ll be great against Lawther, I feel sure of that.Director: Sarah PolleySarah Polley of course. I want to see what she would do with the battle scenes. I want to see how she would handle the staging of the interactions between Boyt and Muldon. It’s her obvious next move.

The Poster

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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is the bestselling author of the novels All the Broken ThingsPerfecting and The Nettle Spinner. She is also the author of the story collection, Way Up. Her work has appeared in GrantaThe WalrusMaclean’sThe Lifted Brow, Significant Objects, Storyville and others. Kathryn teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Toronto.

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Many thanks to Kathryn for taking on casting director duties for Wait Softly Brother (available now on All Lit Up and at your fave indie bookstore). As always, Character Study is just for fun.For more Character Study, click here.