I indulged in a fantasy when I cast Mad Max’s character. I chose Jamie Lee Curtis or Mary Steenburgen for Max. There may be other actresses who will appear in this blog, because my readers are weighing in with their choices.
It’s now time to cast Johnny Medina, the love of Max’s life and her best friend. Johnny is a Latino from New Mexico. He’s the fourth generation living in the United States. In fact, his brother still runs the family ranch between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, a ranch that his great-grandfather founded back in the 1800s. Johnny is medium-tall and barrel-chested, with a childhood knife scar slashing across his face.
With all due respect to hundreds of terrific actors, I had only one in mind when Johnny made his presence known in the first book. I had his picture on my desk to continue giving me guidance into his character development. Because Johnny is in his mid-fifties, I needed a Latino with a few miles on him.
My husband asked if an Italian would work. He was thinking Joe Mantegna. He would work. So would Jimmy Smits, who is Latino. But Esai Morales is my first and only choice. His roles have been of solid characters you can depend and lean on. He is handsome, has a solid body, looks like he could play an intellectual construction engineer with a sensitive side.
I met him during his first interactions with Max. He is a partner in her son-in-law’s construction firm, so she’s known him for many years. Her grandkids call him Uncle Johnny. He’s a part of the extended family, yet he keeps arm’s length from Max. As they work together to solve a murder, Johnny admits that Max always scared the hell out of him because of her wealth and Manhattan attitude. When they grow closer, he realizes they are closer in spirit than he thought.
I can see Esai paired up with Molly Steenburgen in several of the scenes when they are planning how to get Max’s son-in-law out of jail. I can see Esai paired up with Jamie Lee Curtis in any number of scenes from serious to silly.
For those of you who have read the Mad Max series, who do you think should play Johnny Medina? I’d love to hear your ideas.
My next casting call will be for Whip, Max’s son-in-law, and her grandkids, Emilie and Alex. Go on IMDB and figure out who should play these three characters.
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’m really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.