Popular YA author Andrew Smith has a new book out this week: Stand Off, the second installment in the Winger series which follows the exploits of boarding school misfit Ryan Dean West. The Winger Series is a very personal and introspective look into the inner life of a teen, very much set firmly in reality, but Smith’s other books get a bit more fantastical. In fact, Smith is probably better know for his sci-fi/fantasy/coming of age epic Grasshopper Jungle in which Austin and his friends attempt to survive a turbulent future where unstoppable, 6-foot-tall giant praying mantises have taken over their Iowa town, you know, normal everyday stuff. On top of dealing with human sized dictator insects, Austin is forced to come to terms with his sexual feelings for both his GF Shann and his best friend Robby. It’s an odd mix of puberty, hormones, apocalypse, and you know, giant grasshoppers.
One might think that such an odd mix might be hard to capture on the big screen, but nonetheless, an adaptation is in the works from Sony with none other than Edgar Wright behind the camera. Edgar Wright is the other guy behind all those Simon Pegg movies including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, as well as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. As goofy apocalypse is basically Wright’s wheelhouse, it sounds like Grasshopper Jungle is right up his alley. Except for tapping Wright for the job, no other announcements about production have been made and that includes release date or even casting. That got us to thinking….Who should fill the roles of Austin, Robby, and Shann? What is our Grasshopper Jungle Dream Cast?
Let’s start with the easiest first: Shann. It’s no-brainer really. Of course we want Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner to play the gingery lass Shann. Turner’s acting on GoT is superb, though underrated by many who don’t realize Sansa is meant to be subdued and subtle as she learns to play the game of thrones using propriety, politeness, and her feminine wiles. Plus casting Sansa Stark in GJ would bring a whole other established fantasy fanbase to theaters.
Now…who to play Robby Brees? How about Aliens in the Attic’s Carter Jenkins? He’s sly, sexy, suave, and definitely has that special something we could see Austin going gaga over. With roles in just about everything from The Following to Mad Men and even in the 2005 remake of Bad News Bears when he was just a little guy, Carter has yet to have a project that defines him, that gets him noticed, and a lead role in a sci-fi epic from the director of Shaun of the Dead could be just that for him.
Ok. So, what about Austin Szerba? A modest proposal: Nat Wolf from the summer smash John Greene adaptation Paper Towns. With a goofy and affable charm as Q that’s endearing without ever being what you’d call smooth, we could see Nat as the sexually confused Austin, battling his hormones and giant insects at the same time. He’s already charmed us in that other John Greene adaptation The Fault in Our Stars as newly blind and single Isaac and he can currently be seen in the quirky Lilly Tomlin indie Grandma. Isn’t it about time for Nat to carry a YA adaption on his own?
We’ll just have to wait and see if our dream cast makes it to the Grasshopper Jungle!!!