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My very first submission to DeviantArt!Woohooooo! 

My tastes in literature and cinema are highly biased in favor of animal stories, and one of my favorite book series is Avi's Tales from Dimwood Forest- Ragweed, Poppy, Poppy and Rye, Ereth's Birthday, Poppy's Return, and Poppy and Ereth. I've loved the series ever since I was a kid, and many of you may have, too.

I happen to be studying to pursue a career in feature animation, with the ultimate goal of directing some animated features of my own (hand-drawn, I should add). And these books are high on my list of the stories I want to bring to the screen. When you think about it, the way that Avi describes the world that his characters inhabit, is very cinematic. Of course, out of respect to the author, I would stay faithful to the original source material, as well as making separate films based on each book- I would not wish to sacrifice the integrity of each entry by condensing them all into one film.

If you're curious as to my reasoning behind my choice of actors for these select characters, read on:

1. Jason Marsden as Ragweed: Ragweed- a golden mouse who is the title character of the first book, and thereafter influences the rest of the series- starts out rather shy and unsure of himself, but by the end of the first book, he has matured into an individual who won't hestitate to stand up to his enemies, and has come to crave adventure. Therefore, he needs a voice that conveys both vulnerability and rough-and-ready determination. And the one actor I know of who best embodies both of these qualities is Jason Marsden, who has previously voiced Max in A Goofy Movie (and its direct-to-video sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie), Haku in the English dub of Spirited Away, and adult Kovu in The Lion King, to name just the most noteworthy of the countless animated characters he has voiced in his 30+-year career. (At one point, I alternatively considered Frankie Muniz, after hearing him as the protagonist in Racing Stripes.)

2. Reese Witherspoon or Bridgit Mendler as Poppy: Poppy- a deer mouse- is initially very wary of the outside world, but as the series progresses, she becomes a very adventurous and assertive individual. I'm personally leaning towards Bridgit Mendler (whom Studio Ghibli fans will recognize as the English voice of Arrietty) as her voice, but I've also started considering Reese Witherspoon, based off her performance as Marlena in Water for Elephants.

3. Elijah Wood as Rye: Rye- Ragweed's younger brother, and, eventually, Poppy's mate- is something of a romantic, a bit introverted, and mostly a very courteous soul, although there are moments where he can be testy, confrontational, and even petulant. Elijah Wood imbued many of these traits in his turn as the voice of Mumble in Happy Feet, so he was the best choice for Rye. (Truth be told, though, I initially thought of him as being voiced by T. R. Knight, whom many of you may recognize as George O'Malley on Grey's Anatomy.)

4. Cree Summer as Clutch: Clutch- a house mouse whom Ragweed befriends during his time in Centerville in the first book- is a very energetic, unfiltered, street-wise, gung-ho type who really knows how to have a good time. What better choice of actor than the great Cree Summer? More specifically, using the same raspy, youthful voice she's used for such characters as Susie Carmichael (Rugrats), Cleo the Poodle (Clifford the Big Red Dog) and Phaedra the elephant (The Wild Thornberrys Movie)?

5. Len Cariou or John Mahoney as Ereth: Ereth- the crotchety old porcupine- is a very complicated character; though he's typically gruff, short-tempered, mostly anti-social, and prone to saucy language (which I have always found HILARIOUS), he fundamentally has a heart of gold, and has come to view some of the other characters as his close friends (as evidenced by his unrequited crush on Poppy). So, he needs a voice that conveys both of these qualities, and one that is appropriate for someone of his- how do I put this politely?- fairly advanced age. So, I'm torn between either John Mahoney (best known as Martin Crane on Frasier, but who has also done a fair amount of voice acting, including roles in The Iron Giant and Atlantis: The Lost Empire) or Len Cariou (Henry Reagan on Blue Bloods, and the original Sweeney Todd on Broadway).

6. David Caruso as Mr. Ocax: Ocax- a great horned owl who serves as the villain of the second book, Poppy- is a very calculating, menacing, and imperious character, so what better voice for him than the somber, rasping basso profondo of David Caruso, best known as Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami?

7. Brent Spiner as Bounder: Bounder is a red fox with a very elevated opinion of himself, and he's very cool, suave, cunning, and perhaps subtly villainous. I chose Brent Spiner for him because he had imbued the same traits into Lore on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not only that, but his voice has a very suave sound to it, as it is.

8. Bob McGrath as Valerian: Ragweed and Rye's dad, Valerian, is very much a warm soul who cares tremendously for his family, and is generally level-headed and calm in stressful situations. If singer-songwriter and occasional actor John Denver were still around, he'd probably make a great voice for Valerian, but for some reason, when I've re-read the character's scenes in Ragweed and Poppy and Rye, I've kept hearing the voice of Sesame Street veteran Bob McGrath, and upon reflection, I think that he'd be great for the part, too; his voice conveys a lot of warmth, geniality, and pathos. (Really, Bob's just the sweetest guy you ever could find. If I were to just meet him, that would be a dream come true...Happy cry (Tears of joy))

9. Peter Coyote or Tantoo Cardinal as Oldwing: Oldwing- the leader of the colony of little brown bats in the last book, Poppy and Ereth- is a wise, courteous, and maybe even mystical sort. I chose Peter Coyote primarily for the fact that, although he has used his rich, melliflous voice many times as a documentary narrator, he hasn't yet voiced a character in an animated feature, and this character just seemed the right fit for him... As for Tantoo Cardinal (of Dances With Wolves, Smoke Signals, Spirit Bay, etc.), her voice also seemed appropriate, and anyway, who's to say that bat colonies can't be led by females? After all, that's how it is with hyenas, elephants, equids, cattle, and several types of primates, right?

10. Christoph Waltz as Marty the Fisher: Marty the Fisher is a cold, hardened, conniving character, and the voice of Christoph Waltz (Water for Elephants, The Legend of Tarzan, Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained) makes one think of someone who is always scheming something...

11. Kelsey Grammer as Lungwort: Poppy's father, Lungwort, strikes me as a stuck-up, petulant, snobbish, uncompromising, overbearing jerk, and frankly, Kelsey Grammer's (Frasier, Cheers, Anastasia, Toy Story 2) voice meets those criteria to a tee...

12. Litefoot as Graybar: Graybar- VP of F.E.A.R. (Felines Enraged About Rodents) in Ragweed- is a tough old alley cat (Domestic Shorthair, I think) who is cool-headed, villainous, and has a sadistic sense of humor. Searching for a voice for this guy was a challenge- I even considered changing him to a female, and having Whoopi Goldberg provide the vocals- but I ultimately settled on Gary "Litefoot" Davis, whose acting credits include Little Bear in The Indian in the Cupboard, Hiawatha in The Song of Hiawatha, and Nightwolf in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, to name just a few. (He's also the host of a motivational speaking series on YouTube, entitled "Litefoot's Footnotes":… This was actually what inspired me to cast him as Graybar...)

Finally, here are some other actors I have considered at various points:

Miranda Richardson or Susan Sarandon as Silversides (the white Persian president of F.E.A.R)

Landry Bender (Makini in The Lion Guard) as Luci (a young bat from Oldwing's colony)

Glenn Close as Sweet Cicely (Poppy's mom)

Jodi Benson (Ariel from The Little Mermaid) as Thistle (Ragweed and Rye's younger sister)

Jack Hanna
  as Castor P. "Cas" Canad (leader of the beaver colony in Poppy and Rye)

Catherine O'Hara as Miranda (Luci's mom)
© 2017 - 2023 jbriskin
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