WGN continues casting for their adaptation of the classic Science Fiction novel Roadside Picnic
Roadside Picnic – written by Russian literary titans Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in 1971 – is a true classic of Science Fiction literature. First adapted (to incredible effect) by master director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1979 (Stalker), Roadside Picnic is now being adapted into a TV show by the WGN network and fresh casting news has arrived.
Written by Jack Paglen (Transcendence), directed by Alan Taylor (Terminator: Genysis, Game of Thrones), and produced by Neal Moritz, Roadside Picnic sounds like it will remain true to the source material by depicting a world in which aliens have come and gone, leaving behind – in the location that they chose to briefly set down in (which has since become known as “the zone”) – mysterious properties and mysterious artefacts, worth risking life and limb to attain.
Those who specialise in illegally entering the restricted zone and scavenging the remains of what the aliens left behind are known as “Stalkers” (hence the title of Tarkosvky’s film). Matthew Goode (Watchmen) has already been cast as Red (the name sticking true to the character’s name in the novel) – the novel’s central protagonist and a Stalker.
We loved Goode in his turn as Ozymandias in Watchmen and we haven’t spotted him in anything since, so we’re very glad to see him return to our screens, and in such a great role too. There’s a definite quality about him that we’d love to see in this modern interpretation of Red.
Recently, new broke that W. Earl Brown (Deadwood, Preacher) has been cast as Buzzard – a veteran Stalker who considers himself chief among his criminal cohorts.
W. Earl Brown also has a recurring role in Preacher, which does make you wonder about the fate of his character Sheriff Hugo Root. In the comics, Hugo isn’t around for that long. His character chooses to commit suicide after Jesse tells him to “go f*ck himself” using the word of God, so we imagine that the show will follow a similar vein and that they will remove Root before long, freeing Brown up for Roadside Picnic (which has probably already happened). Of course, many actors juggle a handful of shows these days, so Brown appearing regularly in both Preacher and Roadside Picnic is not impossible.
New also broke that Michael Lindall (Guilt, Hammer of the Gods) has been cast as Tender – a brave, young Army veteran who has been recruited to join Red’s excursion into the zone. We haven’t seen Lindall in anything, to date, but we’re sure he’ll do a fine job as someone who finds himself fully in awe of the zone, upon entering it.
It should be noted that this isn’t the only recent adaptation of a Strugatsky Brothers novel. In 2013 Hard to be a God was adapted as a film by Russian director Aleksey German.
Here at The Nerd Recites, we’re huge fans of both the Strugatskys’ novel and of Tarvosky’s film, so we cannot wait to see what WGN do with this highly inventive and intriguing narrative. We’ve long thought that this would be a superb narrative to update and modernise, so we truly hope that WGN do the source material justice. Consider this one keenly on our watch list.
In the mean time, we suggest that you pick up Roadside Picnic and give it a read. It’s a very short novel and a very excellent read. Then, if you enjoy that, try Tarkosvky’s adaptation, Stalker, and you might just be as blown away as we were by Tarkosvky’s interpretation of the the narrative.
Image credits: WGN, Gollancz