Word that Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Goldfinch” will be made into a movie has had fans of the book overwhelmed with questions: Is this definitely happening? When is the movie coming out? How in the name of Theo are they going to cram the book’s 784 pages into one digestible movie? And, perhaps most important, who is going to be in it? Let's get that part out of the way early: How about Pippa Middleton and Jaden Smith?
Confirmation about which actors will play roles in the movie are a long way off, but the very notion of Tartt’s book being shown on the big screen has been enough to send the blogosphere into a frenzy. Warner Bros. confirmed to Entertainment Weekly earlier this week that it acquired the rights to “The Goldfinch,” which will be co-produced by Brett Ratner of “Rush Hour” fame and Nina Jacobson, who has been one of the creative forces behind “The Hunger Games” movie trilogy. (Warner Bros. also owns the rights to Tartt’s previous book, “The Secret History,” though that book has yet to be translated onto film.)
“The Goldfinch” is set in modern day New York City and tells the story of Theo Decker, a teenager whose mother is suddenly killed during a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (no spoilers here: Theo’s mom dies in the early pages of the book and it's mentioned on the book cover). The sudden tragedy sends Theo on a long journey, through which he meets an array of highbrow New York art dealers, shady gamblers and, most memorably, a similarly troubled Russian friend named Boris.
Despite the book’s length (and heft), it’s dominated literary conversations and remains on the New York Times Best Seller list a year-and-a-half after it was first published. Tartt famously spent 11 years on the novel and has since sold at least 1.5 million copies, becoming the toast of the literary world and winning the Pulitzer in the process.
Whether that success will translate into success at the box office, though, is an open question. Much of what unfolds in the novel relies on subtle glances, tonal changes, and other interactions between the characters, making it that much more necessary for the actors to bring some serious skill to the movie.
Theo Decker: The casting director will have to find a young actor for the early part of Theo’s life and then a moody adult to portray Decker’s difficult later years.
Jaden Smith would be a perfect choice for the early years in part because he’s used to the limelight and, at 16 years old, will be able to play ages 13 to 20 without much difficulty. For older Theo, though, look no further than Paul Dano. Yes, Jaden Smith is African-American and Dano is white but Dano’s disturbing portrayal of characters in “Prisoners,” “There Will Be Blood” and “Little Miss Sunshine” makes him the only choice. It’s called suspension of disbelief, people.
Boris: At 36 years old, Daniel Brühl is six years older than Dano but his boyish features, and European accent, make him a perfect compliment to Dano’s sulky Decker. While Boris seems to spend much of his time in “The Goldfinch” as a bad influence on Theo, his core identity is also close to that of Nik Lauda, the intensely loyal race car driver Brühl portrayed in “Rush.”
Hobie: Theo’s antiques dealer boss, at first glance, should be played by Gary Oldman, the bespectacled Brit who played lovable characters in the "Harry Potter" and "Dark Knight" series, as well as an unassuming George Smiley in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” But upon further examination, the surest bet is none other than Richard Jenkins, the sunken-faced character actor played the “Six Feet Under” patriarch, the father in “Step Brothers,” and most recently, a key role in the Tom cruise vehicle “Jack Reacher.”
Pippa: Readers aren’t told much about Pippa, only knowing that she’s an object of Theo’s fascination as soon as she’s introduced. We also know she’s beautiful, with a glowing face and a propensity for world travel. That makes it easy: Pippa Middleton. The younger sister of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, must be looking for a way out of her sister’s shadow. A jump across the pond could be the perfect fit, and only made easier by playing a character that shares her name.