Welcome to the SheReads Bookish Entertainment column! Each week, enjoy a new article by Garrett Billings— Bookstagrammer, blogger, book-to-screen junkie—on all things Reading + Hollywood. Stars’ book club picks and trailer reveals, book-to-screen news and book pop culture, and of course, Gare’s specialty, choosing his ideal Hollywood casts for book adaptations—Bookish Entertainment has you covered.
When I read Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby, I was immediately drawn to the way this man tells a story. The characters were vivid, the plot is full of action reminiscent of film Noir, and Cosby’s prose was dangerously alluring. S.A. Cosby turned into an auto-read author for me; someone who I would immediately read anything they wrote no matter the plot. I loved this book, and when I heard of Razorblade Tears releasing this summer, I didn’t care what it was about—I just knew I had to read it and that I would read it as soon as it arrived. I was not wrong.
is a beautiful suspense novel that is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Ike Randolph is a Black man whose son, Isiah, has just been murdered along with his white husband Derek. Buddy Lee is Derek’s father. Both men were not accepting of their sons sexuality—and to say both were extremely unsupportive would be be an understatement. However, when the police have no leads and Ike and Buddy Lee are both grieving and going through the emotions of what they regret, the two men team up to get to the bottom of what really happened the night their sons were murdered and extract revenge on who is responsible. If you’re looking for a story that is captivating, intense, and takes you on an emotional journey with two evocative characters and a brilliant supporting cast, you cannot go wrong with Razorblade Tears
. This story was made to impact its readers and would translate beautifully on screen.
I couldn’t help but think this would make a phenomenal miniseries when I was reading it and dreamt my ideal cast for this sensational story. Here is my cast for Razorblade Tears:
Ike Randolph – Ike is a tall Black man who is tough and at times, fearless. I immediately thought of someone who could pull off his one-liners and could carry the bravado that this character has in this story. My immediate choice was Denzel Washington. He is fantastic in action movies and is a terrific actor that can portray the range of emotions that Ike has throughout this story.
Buddy Lee Jenkins – Buddy Lee is a white man who is a few times compared to Sam Elliott. Buddy Lee is at times comedic, at times sad to read, and overall a character you can’t help but love. I wanted someone who could be tough but has a good range and my first choice was Sean Penn. Penn’s previous work in movies like Mystic River and Dead Man Walking made me think he has the acting chops to portray a character like Buddy Lee and could do it effortlessly.
Grayson – Grayson is a terrifying character. He is a racist president of a biker gang who believes he is invincible and won’t let anyone get in the way of the reign of violence and fear he instills in everyone around him. As much as I loved Opie from Sons of Anarchy, I thought Ryan Hurst would be the perfect actor for Grayson. He has the look, he’s played a character in a biker gang before, and the man sure can come off intimidating. I don’t know anyone else that could pull off a villain like this.
Mya Randolph – Mya is one of my favorite secondary characters in this story. She is Ike’s devoted wife; a strong and resilient woman. At times in the story, she’s the voice of reason for Ike and also the first one to put her foot down. I wanted someone who could be angry and sad at the same time. Someone whose acting could make the viewer cry—and because of my love of Waiting to Exhale—Angela Bassett was the first actress to come to mind in a role like this.
Detective LaPlata – This character is a tall Asian man who shows up usually to deliver bad news or sniff around when he thinks Ike and Buddy Lee are up to no good. I wanted someone recognizable for this character, as he has one scene that was one of my favorites in the book and for that, I couldn’t think of anyone other than Daniel Dae Kim playing this detective. He is familiar and physically meets the description, yet I could see him nailing this character on the screen so well.
Tangerine – Tangerine is my favorite secondary character, which says a lot. The thing about Cosby’s stories is they have a ton of characters that jump off the pages at you and each play such an important key role. Tangerine is a physically stunning character that is living in fear, tough as nails, and really shines in every scene she is in. I picked MJ Rodriguez for Tangerine because recently she was the first trans woman to receive an Emmy award nomination and it was a lightbulb moment; this woman is going to be a household name and when I saw her, I pictured her as Tangerine for the rest of the story.
Christine Culpepper – Christine had so many layers for such a small role and I wanted someone who people would recognize in this almost cameo-like role. Christine is Buddy Lee’s ex-wife and she is blonde, sophisticated, and beautiful. She can be at times cold and unemotional and yet, she has some beautiful scenes with Buddy Lee when the two discuss the death of their son. I think Kim Basinger is an actress that is beautiful and could play this role of the stoic broken-hearted ex and I would love to see her back on the screen!
Margo – Margo is Buddy Lee’s neighbor who isn’t in the novel a lot but has some really great scenes and stuck out for me as a secondary character. She is a kind woman who is supportive of Buddy Lee and really tries to help him in anyway she can. I wanted someone a little rough around the edges, yet sweet. It took me a little bit of brainstorming, but once I thought of Mary Louise Parker, I knew I had my perfect Margo.
Isiah Randolph – Isiah and Derek were tough to cast. There are some important flashbacks in this story involving these two characters that were jam-packed with emotions. I wanted someone young who could come on the screen, nail the emotions, and stick with the viewer long after the movie was over. Because of his work in Hollywood and Pose, I thought Jeremy Pope would be fantastic. I’m a huge advocate of having LGBT actors and actresses playing LGBT characters and with Pope as an openly gay man, he was my first and only choice for Isiah.
Derek Jenkins – At some point in my reading, I knew that Razorblade Tears would have an ensemble cast. I thought of movies like Knives Out, or something by Tarantino that combine new talent with Hollywood’s elite. A breakout actor that I love is Ronen Rubinstein. I think he is so talented and his character in 9-1-1: Lone Star reminded me of Derek and after that, I found it impossible to envision anyone else.
Gerald Culpepper – There’s this thing I do when I dream up my fantasy casts for books and I think of it as the Drew Barrymore effect. A well-known actor playing almost a cameo role in a movie. Gerald is a wealthy man who is Christine’s new husband. Even though he isn’t in the book a lot, he plays a really important part in the story when it comes to Buddy Lee, especially his relationship with Christine, who went from someone like Buddy Lee to the rich and powerful Gerald. I thought Viggo Mortensen would be perfect to have this cameo in Razorblade Tears as he’s such a chameleon of an actor that he is perfect in every role he adds to his resumé.
Feel free to join me on Instagram @gareindeedreads to tell me who you envisioned in this amazing book and check out some of my other Hollywood treatments of the hottest thrillers out!