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Dreamcasting SyFy's "Hyperion"


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So we’ve heard that SyFy is adapting Hyperion, and have gotten both excited and resigned in different measures depending on how personally SyFy has burned each us in the past. I started rereading the series over the weekend, because it’s one of those that I love so much I need to revisit once every five years or so to run my mind through the well-worn tracks all over again.

And I realized that the wonderful drunk poet Martin Silenus is absolutely and positively Mark Sheppard. It occurred to me that this wasn’t even a new idea to my gray matter, but that at some point in reading I had always pictured exactly that man and that voice, even though I read these novels long before Mark Sheppard ever showed up in a guest role in anything I ever saw at the start of his career.

Look at him, won’t you? Can’t you just hear him intoning “in the beginning was the word…” and then launching into a soliloquy on humanity? Hear him slosh back wine suddenly and start cackling before telling Lamia to fucking shut up?

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If not, leave me my illusions.

So I settled down with the job: dream cast this series. I thought it would be easy. Seven pilgrims, seven tales. Boom, cut and dry. And then everything fell apart because every tale has such icons that they propagate. One cannot be confined to just the pilgrims. How can we not cast Moneta, and Rachel (quiet in the back), and Dure, and Sad King Billy, and Keats, and of course the thunderous Gladstone?

And more, the deeper you look at each of them, the more it’s reflected just how critical certain elements of them are. Kassad has to be Middle Eastern. It doesn’t necessarily seem like much to the character, just back ground really, but that intersection with Sol’s deeply understood Judaism, and of course the very different Catholicisms of Hoyt and Dure, and with the atheism of Martin, suddenly background considerations become that much more important. And so the list collapses on Kassad quite suddenly, because I cannot for the life of me scrounge up a Middle Eastern television actor who is simultaneously brutally powerful and yet deeply introspective. They exist as men, don’t get me wrong, but in our monochrome television scape? The pickings end up slim to none.

So I give up, and I’m half inclined to just say that the whole cast should be unknowns. But this is how far I got before the house of cards collapsed:

Hoyt: no idea
Dure: Robert Carlyle
Kassad: Pedro Pascal (casting him is where this all fell apart)
Moneta: Noomi Rapace
Silenus: Mark Sheppard
Sad King Billy: Matt Walsh
Sol: Richard Schiff
Lamia: Rutina Wesley
Keats: Misha Collins
Consul: no idea
Het Masteen: no idea
Gladstone: Allison Janney
Raul: Michael B. Jordan
Aenea: Maisie Williams

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