Welcome to Casting Call! Where we pick our favorite comic books and do some fantasy casting for them! This week, Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera's Scalped from DC/Vertigo Comics.
For those not in the know, Scalped was originally intended to be a reimagining of the DC Comics western character Scalphunter. However as the story evolved the original plans were scrapped in favor of the plot and characters created/developed by Aaron. "Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?" With the rise of tv shows such as Game of Thrones, The Sorpanos, Daredevil, Banshee, and Deadwood; we felt the time is right to bring Scalped to the small screen. A movie just wouldn't do justice to the broad reaching story told by Aaron and Guera, a weekly 10 one-hour long episode season would be best. Plus it would be a first to have a show about Native Americans with all the leads being Native Americans. We tried our best to keep with casting Native American actors when possible and if not found some that could convincingly portray one. Here are our picks for the Scalped tv show!
Adam Beach - Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse
Beach would be a great fit for the lead role of this show. He's a fantastic actor (as shown in movies such as: Windtalkers, Flags of our Fathers, Smoke Signals, and Law & Order SVU) and has an edge about him that just seems to bubble just below the surface. Plus we'll be getting a peek at what Beach can do playing an anti-hero in DC's upcoming Suicide Squad film. Dash is a full-blooded Oglala Lakota who left the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation at the age of thirteen before returning with a vengeance in 2007. Although happy to have left the reservation, he resents his mother for sending him away, believing she chose activist causes over the welfare of her only child. The fifteen years in between were spent on contact sports, learning Jeet Kune Do, and serving with the U.S. military in the Kosovo War before becoming an FBI agent. A fiery brawler that taps into his anger during fights, he has defeated hordes of enemies at a time, but is not the sort of man to kill in cold blood. He shaves his head and wears several earrings. His cold, withdrawn, anti-social demeanor contrasts with his propensity to start fights with little provocation or reason. Described by FBI Special Agent Baylis Nitz as a "borderline sociopath," his motivation for returning to the reservation is at first unknown, but later revealed to be legal troubles which Nitz has promised to erase if Dashiell successfully completes his mission.
Wes Studi - Chief Lincoln Red Crow
Studi has been in the business for a long time and played his share of Native American Chiefs, so this won't be too much of a stretch. Studi is probably one of the best known NA actors around and can be seen in: Last of the Mohicans, Avatar, Dances with Wolves, The New World, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, Road to Paloma, and Skinwalkers (with Adam Beach). He has the acting chops to pull of Prairie Rose's big bad, plus he can make up for his role in Street Fighter while he's at it! A bullish Lakota elder in his fifties, Red Crow's professional demeanor conceals a cold determination to elevate his Reservation beyond their dire surroundings, no matter the cost. A "big man" on the reservation with fingers in many pies, he is President of the Oglala Tribal Council, Sheriff of the Tribal Police Force and Managing Director of the Crazy Horse, his chief project since leaving the Native American Rights movement. The need to balance feuding parties with conflicting interests, as well as raising the necessary funds, has led him into a position of a local crime lord, managing his interests in drugs, prostitution and arms dealing. Publicly and privately, Red Crow is not shy about drawing attention to the overwhelming problems of the reservation, or his efforts to reduce them, statements dismissed by his critics who claim he's merely a mob boss presiding over a criminal empire feeding off the reservation. Red Crow has unresolved romantic feelings for Gina Bad Horse, with whom he shares a history during their times as militant Native American rights activists.
Zahn McClarnon - Arthur "Catcher" Pendergass
McClarnon can be seen playing a Tribal Chief on Netflix's Longmire but can be seen showing the kind of acting needed for a role as complex as Catcher in: Skins, Into The West, The Cherokee Word for Water, and Comanche Moon. Relatively unknown yet a tremendous talent, all it would take is a little make up to age him appropriately. Catcher was a man of Red Crow's generation; he was present when the federal agents died, but he has never said a word about his role in the murders. Upon seeing Gina, whom he had loved his entire life, kiss Red Crow passionately he snaps and kills the two agents, who were being held at gunpoint. Years later, when confronted by an angry Gina, he kills and scalps her, possibly to prevent being turned in for the crime. He makes up for it by talking to himself (or, rather, his horse named Festus) as events progress, providing us with a running commentary. His reactions to other characters are particularly insightful, as he believes he can see their spirit animals.
Willem DaFoe - Baylis Earl Nitz
DaFoe (Platoon, Grand Budapest Hotel, Boondock Saints, The Hunter, To Live and Die in L.A., Wild at Heart, and Spider-Man) needs no introduction. He is an actor of the highest caliber and always delivers strong portrayals of angry bad guys. He brings the right kind of crazy to role of the deranged Agent Nitz. A vengeful, unscrupulous and amoral FBI Agent who was present at Dash's birth and had had his eye on him for some time, insisting that he be made an FBI Field Agent when it seemed his mother's record would prevent that. He is driven by a desire to see Red Crow behind bars for murder, something that has eluded him since the seventies when Red Crow and Gina got away scot free from the murder of two FBI Agents. He will do anything to get what he wants, even if it means sacrificing Dash.
Irene Bedard - Gina Bad Horse
Another primarily unknown NA actress, Bedard is highly talented as can be seen by her Golden Globe nomination for Lakota Woman. Dash's estranged mother, and a longtime activist pushing for the rights of Native Americans. With Lincoln Red Crow and Lawrence Belcourt, she participated in the ambush and murder of two FBI agents who entered the reservation one night in 1975. While she initially held the wounded agents under the gun, Red Crow took the pistol from her and was hinted to have executed them himself initially, saying that she didn't want to have the killing on her conscience. In the present time, she and her band of protesters now oppose Red Crow's plans to open the casino. Her murder drives much of the plot of the series, as it touches the lives not only of Dash and Red Crow, but of many other characters. Bedard can be seen in: Smoke Signals (with Adam Beach), The New World (with Wes Studi), Squanto a Warriors Tale, and Song of Hiawatha.
Geno Segers - Uday "Shunka" Sartana
Segers can play a heavy, as seen in Cinemax's series Banshee. For those that have seen Segers in Banshee as Chayton Littlestone, you know he can bring that psychotic edge needed to play Red Crow's right hand man and closest confidant. In a two-part arc focusing on Shunka, it is revealed that he is a closeted homosexual who has to deal with widespread homophobia in his line of work, including from Red Crow himself. Shunka is distrustful of Dash and their rivalry heats up as the series progresses. Though he is always referred to his nickname, which is "dog" in Lakota, his mostly unknown real name suggests he was born elsewhere. Segers can also be seen in: MTV's Teen Wolf, Pair of Kings, and Zeke & Luther.
Benjamin Bratt - Officer Franklin Falls Down
Bratt is one of the more high profile actors on our list and has played cops before on shows like Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street. His Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards show he has the talent to portray the honorable officer in our show. Falls Down is the lone good cop on the rez. He was assigned to cover Gina's murder and may be getting more information than he expected as he begins to investigate. He talks with Belcourt and eventually finds Catcher's trailer, where he realizes Catcher is the killer. Bratt can also be seen in: Blood In Blood Out, La Mission, Miss Congeniality, Traffic, Pinero, and Love in the Time of Cholera.
Q'orianka Kilcher - Carol Ellroy
Kilcher debuted in Terrance Malick's The New World (with Wes Studi and Irene Bedard). A wonderful actress and gorgeous to boot, Kilcher would be the main female lead opposite flashbacks to Gina Bad Horse in the show. Married to someone called Ellroy, although she doesn't much care about the fact. Probably married him (a non-Indian) just to spite her father. Pretty much Dashiell's age, the two shared their first erotic experience at the age of thirteen. Now that Dashiell has returned, he is repelled by her promiscuity yet attracted by her beauty. It is unclear whether she is a femme fatale or a damsel in distress. Kilcher can also be seen in: Princess Ka'iulani, The Power of Few, Running Deer, Sons of Anarchy, and Longmire (with Zahn McClarnon)
Cody Deal - Britt "Diesel" Fillenworth
Deal a midwestern farm boy that is part of the Osage Nation of Native Americans is the perfect actor for the role of the big, 1/16 Kickapoo, bad guy Diesel. Mostly know from his modeling he can be seen in: Syfy's Almighty Thor, The Adventures of Avery & Pete, and The Girl's Guide to Depravity. Diesel is Gina Bad Horse's boyfriend/companion, a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, with a reputation for violence and erratic, near-sociopathic behavior. It is often remarked (generally contemptuously) that he is white, although he reacts badly to this, claiming to be 1/16 West Texas Kickapoo. He lived with his abusive father until he decided he wasn't going to take it anymore and setup his father to be robbed and killed.
Kiowa Gordon - Dino Poor Bear
Gordon is also a relative unknown and his biggest break was being cast in the Twilight Saga as one of the Native American Werewolves. This show could be his big break. Dino is a young man struggling to make a living on the reservation. He encounters Dash at a meth lab which Dash is shutting down. Poor Bear wants a better life for himself and his daughter, and would like to leave the reservation. He works as a janitor for the Crazy Horse casino and eventually gets money from Red Crow to fix up his car. He is eventually pressed back into a life of crime as a drug-delivery boy. When Carol moves in with him and Granny, he begins to think that she could be his girlfriend; he even turns in his friends after discovering they are responsible for the hit-and-run death of a reservation girl. He uses the reward money to buy Carol a pair of earrings she liked, but when she continues to talk about her feelings for Dash, he tosses the earrings. It is implied by Catcher that Dino will be taking a dark and violent path.
That's it for the main cast of characters. There are several ancillary characters such as:
Ron Perlman - Sheriff Wooster Karnow, a neighboring towns sheriff.
Russell Means - Lawrence Belcourt, a former associate of Red Crow's.
Graham Greene - Wade Rouleau, Dash's estranged father.
Pongsak Pongsung - Johnny Tongue, a Hmong leader who invested heavily in Red Crow's casino.
Mum Jokmok - Mr. Brass, a Hmong a sadist and enforcer of Johnny Tongue who handles business.
Let's get this going HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax!!