Who Should Play You: A Casting Guide to Bright Lights, Big City

When we first heard about Josh Schwartz’s decision to write and direct a new adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, our hearts sank just a little bit. Not because the idea of another film adaptation of Jay McInerney’s novel so rankles our ire—let’s just say the Michael J. Fox version doesn’t have a home in our DVD collection—but, instead, because of Mr. Schwartz’s comment that he might update the film to suit today’s times. How is it possible to take something so inherently period and modernize it without losing the essence of the story? Then we remembered that 20-something navel gazing and rampant drug use fits any decade. Plus, whatever ‘80s fix we need will be supplied by Mr. Schwartz’s totally unnecessary (but totally awesome) Gossip Girl spin-off. The bigger issue with Bright Lights, Big City at this point is who will play the lead—“you” in the book, “Jamie” in the film and stage versions. Naturally, we have some ideas.

Ryan Gosling

Why he should be in it: Basically, he needs to work more. And by “work more”, we mean, “work, period”. Since Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Gosling’s biggest claim to fame is being fired from Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones. This is a career that needs a higher profile!

Why he won’t be: Do you honestly think an actor like Ryan Gosling would say yes to a movie written and directed by the guy who created The O.C.? That’s what we thought.

Hayden Christiansen

Why he should be in it: Say what you will about Mr. Christiansen, but under some metric of studio-nomics, the man is a movie star. And this is a movie that could use a star. That he also got to play a disgraced wannabe journalist in Shattered Glass certainly helps his cause as well.

Why he won’t be: Mr. Schwartz might be prone to casting bad actors on his television series’—see Blake Lively, Chace Crawford and Mischa Barton—but we don’t think he’d make the same mistake with his first directorial effort.

Adam Brody / Penn Badgley

Why they should be in it: Mr. Schwartz’s television muses each feel like natural choices in their own way. Mr. Brody is the first name we thought of when we saw the project was announced, mostly because of his prior relationship with Mr. Schwartz. And based on his previous performances, we can tell he’d get the self-involved navel gazing thing down cold. Meanwhile, Mr. Badgley’s prickly demeanor seems ideal for the character’s more prickly inclinations. (That’s a nice way of saying that the dude really knows how to play a dick.)

Why they won’t be: Mr. Brody had his chance to be a movie star, and wrecked it by choosing In the Land of Women. Mr. Badgley, on the other hand, isn’t even famous enough to headline a movie like In the Land of Women. Neither will do.

Jason Segel

Why he should be in it: If you take his character in the beginning of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and add cocaine, he’s basically doing Bright Lights, Big City. Plus, after seeing him in I Love You, Man, we’re convinced Mr. Segel has the capability to play serious drama if he so desires. He’s the comic wizard of dramatic heartbreak.

Why he won’t be: Honestly, we can’t think of one good reason why he shouldn’t star in this movie. We have a winner!


Who Should Play You: A Casting Guide to Bright Lights, Big City