Casting Rune Breaker

A long time ago, I did a couple of posts about image songs for the cast of descendants: one for the heroes and one for the main villains based on the fact that Bleach creator, Tite Kubo does the same thing for his characters. When I did that, I explained that my original idea was to do a casting couch thing, but didn’t know enough about specifically young actors to cast the younger Descendants.
With Rune Breaker, I don’t suffer such a handicap and I actually can do the casting couch, and seeing as I’m feeling lazy about my blogging, I’m going to cast Rune Breaker this week. To be a little less lazy, and because I am an aspiring voice actor myself, I’ll be casting both for live action and for animation (And frankly, if Rune Breaker ever makes it big and I have a choice, I would pick animation for it anyway).
So without further preamble, here is the cast for Rune Breaker. Beware, mild spoilers for already posted chapters ahead.
Live Action: Noa Tishby
Casting Taylin presents an interesting set of problems because you know you’re going to have to make her bigger than the rest of the cast using the same tricks that they used to make Gandalf bigger in Fellowship of the Ring. And since she’s your main, it’s tempting to go with a typical Hollywood leading lady or action girl type.
And I’ll admit it, my knee-jerk reaction was to go with Kate Beckinsale, who is an amazing physical actress (Evidenced in the Underworld franchise and Van Hellsing). She’s cool, she’d got great presence, and she’s actually proven to be eager to do her own stunts.
The problem is that Kate, like most Hollywood action girls (particularly Caucasian ones, and that wouldn’t be an issue with me, but the hailene are all white to invoke an Aryan/Nazi feel to their racial purity bullshit and their attempt to conqueror the world, so Taylin needs to at least be light skinned so it’s clear that it’s her wings and hair that are the problem.) are kind of waif-like even when shot to look badass, and Taylin isn’t just tall, she’s built she was born to swing giant swords and murder things with them. She needs muscles. Real ones.
Enter Noa Tishby, who is an excellent actress who I first became familiar with from this episode of Leverage, as well as an ex-Israeli soldier who knows how to fight for real and did an amazing pair of action sequences in the first thing I saw her in. She could bring an amazing amount of physicality to Taylin, and to be completely honest, make her look beautiful doing it (I would really, really like to see Noa with some wings).
Voice Actor: Stephanie Lemelin
[Apologies for the shipper-based video, it’s the only non-spoiler clip for adult!Arty]
I only know Stephanie Lemelin from her role as Artemis in Young Justice, but it’s that role that makes me think that she could really land Taylin. She would have to play older, obviously, but her Artemis has both that badass warrior hardness in it, and can drop down into the really charming vulnerability and uncertainty that I think are Taylin’s main modes.
Ru Brakar
Live Action: Alan Rickman
One thing to keep in mind with Ru is that in any other story, under any other circumstances, he would be the main villain. The fact that he’s on the side of the heroes, at least in the first book, is both an unnatural role for him and a source of constant indignity regardless of how much dignity Taylin tries to give back.
So in casting him, you need a good, clear villain first and foremost. Not just a good villain, but a smart one and a cruel one. And I can think of no one better to fit the bill than the man who played Hans Gruber and Serverus Snape. Yeah, I know Snape isn’t a villain, but he is an antagonist and one who is meant to make you feel like he’s unfathomably evil.
Rickman can also snap from incredibly understated to berserk, seething rage in the blink of an eye, which is perfect for Ru, a person who is largely detached and lacking empathy, but who is constantly simmering with disgruntlement at his lot in life.
Voice Actor: Keith David
Just… watch the whole episode.
Keith David is a vocal god. He has one of the richest, deepest, most manful voices in the business today and he never, ever sounds artificial. As the clip shows, I picked him mostly based on his work as Goliath from Disney’s Gargoyles, and that’s because it’s there where he shows off the quality that makes him perfect for Ru: the ability to go full on rage-monster, the guy who can and will kill you until even the bacteria in your gut are dead—and then dial it back in the same take to this eloquent, philosophical guy who has clearly had a long, hard life.
Also, I would rewrite some stuff so that Ru called Gloryfall his ‘Angel of the Night’ just to get David to bellow that.
Kaiel Arunsteadeles
Live Action: James Franco
To me, James Franco’s best moments (not entire roles, but moments) are those where he’s being less like an actor and more like a rock star that just happened to get stunt cast into the movie. I’m thinking about his short, glorious role as a scummy drug dealer in my favorite movie that no one else loves, Green Hornet, the scene where he equates a delicious pieces of pie with an evil plot in the otherwise miserable Spider-man 3, or his gag-reel only appearances in Knocked Up.
And it’s that devil may care, rock star feel that I think makes him great to play Kaiel. Not that Kaiel is a bad guy, but Kaiel is aspiring to be a loreman, which on Ere is the equivalent of a rock star: a supremely confident, never timid presence who just owns the space around him.
I think Franco is someone who can really dig in on this and play both that image that Kaiel is projecting, and the very thoughtful, intellectual person Kaiel is beneath is.
Voice Actor: Michael Rosenbaum
Yes, that’s him in a live action role because his role as Lex in the early seasons of Smallville is where I think his best ‘Kaiel’ mannerisms. If you haven’t seen Smallville (which you should, at least til Season 4), it depicts Lex Luthor before he becomes the corrupt evil businessman* we all know and love.
In those early years, Rosenbaum plays Lex as so goddamn likable that by the time he does start to turn, you’re still shocked and devastated by it even thought you knew he was going to be evil because he’s the fictional love child of Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch. And right up until the world starts to force him down the path of villainy (and possible starting a birther movement against Superman), Rosenbaum plays him a the single most together and confident person in the show.
My second choice would have been Crispin Freeman, who could have also played Ru. If he played one, I would have wanted him to play both and argue with himself.
*link provided by my affronted sense of justice.
Live Action: Gina Torres
My original pick for Brin was Alicia Keyes (Who somehow has a more badass mian IMBD pic than Torres), reasoning that Brin is and elf or half-elf (yes, that wasn’t a mistake, even the narration can’t keep that straight) and thus has to be kind of fragile looking. Not that Alisha Keyes is really a waif, but she has a serene, peaceful sort of beauty.
At which point, I reminded myself that Brin is an Ere elf, and thus has lived a life that is nothing but peaceful, whether she’s from Vini Tresolm or the Isle of Nyce. Ere elves are like of Tolkien elves actually developed muscles to rock those scimitars of theirs and full draw bows that can punch through Uruk-hai armor.
Brin also had to look formidable even next to Taylin, and no amount of pre-production would make Alisha Keyes into a warrior princess. But you know who is tough as nails, formidable and knows her way around a fight scene? Gina Torres, that’s who. This is the woman who should have played Storm in the X-men movies, goddammit. Because when you think ‘war goddess’, she should pop up in your head.
Voice Actor: Vanessa Marshall
Yep, Young Justice again. They just did a great job on voice casting (Yes, even the Joker. We all loved Hamil’s Joker, but eventually you’ve gotta let go, man.).
Anyway, Marshall’s performance as Canary adds greatly to her ‘team mom’ characterization in the show, which, granted to date she’s only shown to Layaka, but trust me, it comes out more later as the party comes closer. There’s really not a lot more to say for this pick because she’s already the voice I hear when Brin talks.
Live Action: America Ferrera
Believe it or not, my first choice here was Selena Gomez, and my reasoning is that halflings on Ere remain youthful until they are very, very old. The idea here being that Selena would be playing someone old enough to have young children who isn’t a teen mom. Unfortunately, a film audience would just read her as a young woman playing older and think it was weird.
So I moved on to America Ferrera.
First of all, and I know I’ve talked about the attractiveness of all my female picks, but… whatever, I like talking about attractive women. That said: what kind of hell-universe do we live in where this woman’s best known role is ‘Ugly’ Betty. Seriously, she’s adorable. I look at her and I think ‘hugs!’–which would be wildly inappropriate if I ever met her for real.
And she just has the right look for Rai.
Voice Actor: Jeanine Garofalo
I actually can’t find a clip of *just* The Bowler.
To be completely honest, Jeanine Garofalo could play Rai live action too. She has the look, definitely. The only reason I didn’t pick her ahead of America Ferrera is that I didn’t think of her until I was thinking about voice actresses.
There is something especially distinctive about Jeanine’s voice that I think makes her perfect for a snarky character like Rai. And no, there’s really no one role that made me consider her, I just especially love her as the Bowler in Mystery Men.
Live Action: Idris Elba
It’s only just now in writing this that what happens with Issacor constitutes one of the worst cliches in fiction when it comes to black guys (warning, link makes the spoiler crystal clear). Looking back, I feel pretty bad about that, especially since there was no particular reason for him to even be black besides that being how he looked in my head. And no, Brin doesn’t count because elves aren’t human. My only defense here is that it could have been worse, because at one point, Layaka was also black. Um… check back in Book 4 where we meet some Rizenis?
But anyway, Issacor was always envisioned as being a pseudo-mentor to Taylin, a character whose example shapes her in the future. And when you’re dealing with a 7+ foot tall woman who swings a sword as heavy as a fat child on the regular, that person has to be larger than life themselves to leave an impression.
Enter Idris Elba, probably most famous as Hemdall from the Thor movie and the most badass guy in a movie about the guys some of history’s biggest badasses (the Vikings, not Aryan asshats) worshiped as gods. [Incidentally, as Rose was from Minnesota and therefore, a Viking, she was the most badass Golden Girl with Sophia a close second.] His five seconds on screen is also the most badass part of the Pacific Rim trailer (warning, link goes to a trailer so awesome you will never appreciate other spectacle movies the same again)—a trailer that includes a giant robot rocket-punching a kaiju in the face.
Seriously, is Idris Elba is not a memetic badass the likes of which regularly spin-kicks Chuck Norris through Vin Diesel through exploding buildings for fun by 2015, we have failed as a culture. This man needs to be in all the action movies. I say this is a die hard fan of Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson: Elba deserves it more.
And that’s why he’s cast as Issacor. You… you just can’t cast anyone else if you can justify casting Idris Elba as a shit-kicker. He’s tough, he’s intense and he sells the straight hell out of the nobility and stoic heroism of Hemdall. Let’s face it: movie!Hemdall is Issacor even though I wrote Issacor a few months before Thor came out.
When you want the big guy, the tough guy, the guy who can become a bastion standing between certain death and those he cares about, you pick this guy. I really can’t explain better than just that. Just got to IMDB page above, or his Wikipedia page and just look at his filmography.
Live Action: Dakota Fanning
It is wrong of me to say, and I’m sure she’s a wonderful young woman, but Dakota Fanning creeps me right the hell out. It obviously stems from how she was the go-to creepy kid for casting calls in the oughts, but now that she’s older, she hasn’t stopped. Twilight (easily the creepiest thing not written in human bodily fluids in this decade) didn’t help much either.
The point is that she can play a character who is just on the wrong side of the uncanny valley and that’s what you want for Layaka: a bubbly, chipper fangirl who, when you find out that there is something terribly, terribly wrong about her, you want to scream ‘I KNEW IT!’.
Voice Actor: Veronica Taylor
No these lines weren’t in the show, yes that is Taylor
When you say ‘annoying fangirl’, I think Amelia from Slayers. The animation of the show hasn’t withstood the test of time, but Amelia is forever.
It’s hard to gauge how people take things once they’re out in the wild, but Layaka was meant to be annoying, both to the audience and the rest of the cast. The reason I did that was as camouflage: she would be so annoying that the reader would turn Layaka parts of the story into white noise, making it all the more shocking when the endgame of Lighter Days, Darker Nights played out.
And that’s why I wanted Veronica Taylor for the role. No one can hear he Amelia voice and think you’re going to see anything scary or dangerous out of them. Which is exactly the kind of knife I want to put in your back.
Immurai the Masked
Live Action: Ron Perlman
Voice Actor: Ron Perlman
Yes, I’m double-dipping here and no, it’s not because I’m running out of space. Ron Perlman is perfect for this role however you go about it. First, in this age where Spider-man has to pull off his mask every three minutes so we can see Toby McGuire’s face (because actors cost money and have egos), Ron Perlman has no problem being in prosthetics pretty much at all times. From Beauty and the Beast to Hellboy, the man wears his make-up like a man and he wears it well. If you want to get the best possible actor who isn’t an unknown you’re taking a gamble on, Ron Perlman is your guy.
And because he is in that mask, to being animated, the voice and the attitude are incredibly important. Immurai is an arrogant monster who sees everyone else as pieces on the board he can move at his whim. And the worst part is: for almost four hundred years, he’s been right. Ru was one of the last people to play him, and Ru suffered for it. All that smugness and feeling of invincibility shows through in his mode of speech.
A mode of speech that shows through perfectly in a character who debuted almost exactly a year after Immurai debuted in the original game he came from: Deathstroke the Terminator AKA Slade from the Teen Titans animated series.
The two characters have a lot in common: they’re both highly experienced in the ways of heroes and skilled in pulling of complex Xanatos Gambits against their foes. And they’re both so good at this that they’re almost bored with how easily they win, upping the stakes just to get a challenge.
I don’t think you could find a VA that could convey that half as well as Ron, and that’s why he’s my pick for Immurai.
So: do you agree? Disagree? Am I way off base with some of these? Think you can do better? Let me know! Right here in the comments, or on the forums. And feel free to cast other characters I’ve written on this site. I’d really like to see what you come up with.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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