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John M. Hicks

Cinema for this? No, but the video game developers who brought us "Grand Theft Auto, Vice City" could probably do something suitable with it.

Since my ten-year-old son enjoyed burning cops up with a flame-thrower so much, I just know he'd love cracking a few infant heads for kicks!



I just finished Blood Meridian for what was probably the tenth time, I have lost count. I always cast the movie when I read books, that is just how I read books. I hope Tommy Lee Jones does not try to cast himself as one of the main charachters because he is not right for any of them. A lesser member of the gang perhaps. I think the perfect John Glanton would be Chris Cooper of Lone Star, Adaptation, Sea Biscuit fame. For the Kid I believe an weathered Kieran Kulkin could work or any number unknown actors. The Judge is almost impossible to cast, if only Jesse "The Body" Ventura could actually act, big men just don't have the acting chops.

chris m

Ah. Chris Cooper is a good choice for something ... but for some reason I envisioned Glanton as a bit larger and more rough-looking. But I may be prejudiced since I haven't seen Cooper play any villanois characters. He'd likely be a good Tobin or Toadvine, though.


Alright I just had an epiphany. Picture a hairless pale Russell Crowe for the judge, I think he could pull it off. He may not be perfect for the part but he's the best I can come up with.

chris m

Crowe could be mean enough, sure... might work. I remember him looking appropriately bald and menacing in "Romper Stomper". He's not really all that large, though, or at least not as huge as the Judge is meant to be. Might have to cheat him bigger with the camera.

Joe J.

Viggo Mortensen for Glanton, I say. And Bill Duke for the Black Jackson. John Malcovich could pull off the language and power of the Judge and I'm sure they could do something to play with his size. Ed Harris as Tobin perhaps, he should be in there somewhere along with Sam Shepard and Benicio DelToro. And people thought Braveheart was violent! The "Legion of Horribles" battle alone would have people running from the theater while the die hard McCarthy fans would be glued to the screen in horror and awe. I can't imagine anyone capturing the cruelty, terror, and violence of this amazing book on the big screen. What a masterpiece! See the child...


The Judge - Sid Haig (get past his captain spaulding role in the Rob Zombie flicks). He has the size (6'3" & 250+lbs) and he has the menace.
Glanton - Mickey Rourke or Willem DeFoe
Toadvine - Val Kilmer (great in offbeat roles)After becoming Jim Morrison, Doc Holliday and John Holmes, Toadvine would be a snap.
The kid - Emile Hirsch (the DOGTOWN emile, not The Girl Next Door emile)He is 20 years old now, but played younger in Lords of Dogtown.


Emile Hirsch is a good idea for the Kid.

Tobin: Arliss Howard
Glanton: Sam Elliot (probably too old at this point, but he's got the downcast thing going on)
Holden: Terry O'Quinn, Jon Voight, or Clancy Brown, digitally altered (a la the Lord of the Rings movies) to appear 7 feet tall
Toadvine: W. Earl Brown (he plays Dan on Deadwood)
Black Jackson: Tunde Adebimpe (from TV on the Radio; he acts, too)


How about as an animated feature? The medium allows enough distance from physical reality to accomodate the violence of the book.

Jeremy T

Holden - John C. Reilly. Think about it.

Joshua Wallis

I always envisioned Malkovich as the Judge (simultaneously menacing and beatific), but John C. Reilly is a great candidate as well. As for the kid, I always see Nick Stahl.


David Morse as Holden. He's already 6'4".

Evan N

Actually, I think big name actors could dilute the gritty reality which makes this novel so charming. I think unknown faces could preserve this element and make the harrowing tale of Blood Meridian seem much more intimate and much less Hollywood.

And to the man who suggested it as an animated feature.. As 'THE' blood meridian movie, I think that wouldn't work and touch the depths and tones of emotions the book did (and can and will continue to) with its readers. Although, I am adapating the novel through a series of a flash animated films. Nothing official, just sort of a passion project for my portfolio.


I really like some of the ideas about casting, Voight for Holden seems to resonate, maybe because of his role in the giant snake flic.

Reilly, sure. But did anyone think of Phillip Seymour Hoffman?

I think this would be an amazing film, maybe they are considering toning down some of the characters and making them have more redeeming features.

I think, of all people, Toadvine showed some humanity: his reaction to Holden's killing the apache kid.

Suzanne Beaudry

I'm reading this stunning novel for the first time right now; it's blowing my mind. I don't know what to think; I don't believe I've ever before read a book where I hated the guts of all the main characters so much that I keep wishing for them to get their comeuppance.

The Kid is only marginally better than the others, an "antihero" in the truest sense of the word and not really a protagonist.

But it *is* grotesquely fascinating. Like someone else stated, I'm constantly casting it in my head as I read along.

The Judge. That *is* tough. Too bad Marlon Brando is dead. In his absence, however, John Malkovich is not a bad choice. Maybe even Jack Nicholson.

Nick Stahl would be wonderful for The Kid. Too bad Leonardo DiCaprio is now too old.

For Glanton, what about Harvey Keitel? Too old, probably. Glanton was apparently only about 30 when he perpetrated these atrocities. Maybe Sean Penn or Russell Crowe would have the acting chops. Matthew McConaughey would not be a bad choice, and James Caviezel played a (somewhat) similar role in "Ride With the Devil." Also I keep seeing a mental picture of Ray Winstone's evil character (Teague), from "Cold Mountain."

Tobin: Either Chris Cooper or Willem Dafoe as first choices. Paul Bettany would not be bad.

Toadvine: It's incredible that someone listed Philip Seymour Hoffman for the Judge. I definitely saw him cast, but in the role of the crazy earless branded horse thief, not as the Judge.

However, in the absence of Marlon Brando, maybe PSH would be an excellent alternative as the Judge. I kept seeing PSH instead of Brando in the incredible scene with the bat s**t-brimstone sulfur-urine gunpowder.

Guy Pearce would make an excellent alternative Glanton. He recently did a similar role in Nick Cave's The Proposition, but his character was more sympathetic than any character in Blood Meridian.

Has anyone here seen "The Proposition"? It's like an Australian version of BM, but with (some) redeeming features.

It featured John Huston's son Danny Huston in an *incredibly* evil role. Danny Huston could play Toadvine if PSH plays the Judge. If not, he should at least be a gang member. As should that guy that played the evil albino sidekick of Teague in "Cold Mountain."



The Kid -- what an amazing character. It's like he was the original Will Munny character from "Unforgiven," before he grew older and wiser. [SPOILER: Of course, then the book would have had a different ending]

Stahl is an interesting choice. He certainly showed that he is capable of playing a mean m***erf***er in "Bully" (2001). Don't forget Brad Renfro, however, from the same film. I'm not sure he's in the same league, though. There's also Patrick Fugit, from "Almost Famous."

Speaking of "Ride With the Devil," there's Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He played a very nasty character in that film, one that was practically straight out of Blood Meridian. He could possibly play Glanton.

Given the wealth of talent in the States, though, I don't think it's necessary to import anyone from either Britain or Australia. Either Johnny Depp or Billy Crudup could do it, take your pick. Of couse, this would be quite a different role for Depp from that of Jack Sparrow. No joking around here, this guy (Glanton) would be the real deal.

The Bathcat role is an outstanding exception, given that the character is originally British. The Australian Noah Taylor would be my choice.


The Proposition was being reviewed I think by Ebert when he mentioned its similarity to Blood Meridian which is why I decided to read the book.

One thing for damn sure, however it is cast, Blood Meridian just can't miss: Way too many brilliant images and amazing dialogue and action.

I want to see the movie so bad!


Ya'all are missing the most important ingredient should Blood Meridian become a movie: who to direct? I thought Billy Bob did a lousy job with All the Pretty Horses, even though he was faithful to the book, for the most part. What Billy Bob missed, was the tone of the book. The edgy reality. I normally like Billy Bob Thornton (if he would've directed All the Pretty Horses like he did Sling Blade, it might have worked.) But it shows how difficult it is to adapt a beloved book into a movie. Blood Meridian, I think, would be terribly difficult to make as a movie. As this site mentions, how to show the horrible violence? How can you be faithful to the book and still get a movie like this made without an NC-17 rating or worse? Maybe you could do it like Hitchcock -- the violence could be implied in places, but not shown. Sometimes that has more power.
In any case, like all of you who've posted here, I was deeply moved by this book. I'm on my second reading now. It's interesting to read the history on which Blood Meridian is based, and realize that what McCarthy describes is probably quite accurate. Apaches and Commaches really did raid and kill and rape and mutilate in Texas and Mexico (that's why the Texas Rangers were formed). Regions of Mexico, desperate, really did pay for Indian scalps in gold. And Glanton and his gang, in their bloodlust, did slaughter peaceful tribes and innocent Mexicans -- their black-haired scalps paid the same. The book strips away the romance of our westward expansion and shows what it really was -- a genocide.
Who could direct this without flinching in the telling? Who could bring the incredible imagery as well as the incredible violence of Blood Meridian to the screen? Here are two: Terrence Malik (A Thin Red Line) and Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien).
The more I think about it though, the more I doubt that Blood Meridian could, or should, be made into a movie. The events depicted are like dark family secrets -- better forgotten.


"The Proposition was being reviewed (I think by Ebert) when he mentioned its similarity to Blood Meridian, which is why I decided to read the book."

As did I.

Your post is incredibly insightful, Rob. Great suggestions. I've been doing "back research" on the genocidal real-life history myself. It's blowing my mind to have to come to terms with the fact that what McCarthy depicts is, as you have stated, undeniably accurate.

Funny you should mention Billy Bob Thornton. He would be another excellent choice to play a Glanton Gang member, probably Tobin. Another good choice would be David Thewlis as Tobin.

But I agree that Thornton should probably not direct, even though I didn't see the film "All the Pretty Horses."

What about Martin Scorsese?

I don't know whether this film could even be made without a rating of NC-17 for Extremely Violent Content. To do honest justice to this story, the director would have to be outstanding, the screenplay would have to be outstanding (probably adapted by McCarthy himself), and all the major-role actors would have to be Oscar caliber.

In fact, we would probably have to go into a new era where NC-17 would rise to a level of respectability such as the current "R" rating now enjoys. Our society would have to become willing to allow NC-17 films to be respectable and eligible for Oscar competition, not an industry joke like they are presently. I believe that the entire film industry would have to be "kicked up a notch" to a new level, willing to tolerate the depiction of shocking violence at a level which has never before been seen in film.

This may not even be possible, at least at this point in film history. However, I can't see any other way of doing proper justice to the source material.

After all, what we are dealing with here is not pretty. It is, as you stated, blatant genocide and bare-assed murder for profit.

People in previous centuries had little trace of our present-day "politically correct" sensibilities. They had no problem with the enslavement or deaths of members of "races" they considered
"inferior" to themselves.

Terrence Malik is an exciting choice as director. His film "The Thin Red Line" was outstanding and paid great tribute to the source novel. He also has the imagery thing with nature pretty well honed. I've no idea how he would handle the extreme violence of BM, but there was (of course) violence in Thin Red Line (set during WWII).

I'm not familiar enough with Alfonso Cuaron to have an opinion on him as a BM director.

"The more I think about it though, the more I doubt that Blood Meridian could, or should, be made into a movie. The events depicted are like dark family secrets -- better forgotten."

But the situation is basically the same as with the Holocaust and the Nazis. If people had that attitude about the Holocaust, great films like 'Schindler's List' and 'The Pianist' would never have been made.

One of the goals of keeping ugly history alive and making the public aware of it is never to forget, so that it *won't* happen again.

This is an unhappy consequence of ugly history's unfortunate tendency to repeat itself, if succeeding generations don't learn anything from it.

Sue Beaudry

Re: The Proposition.

Danny Huston for sure as Davey Brown in the film version of BM.

Don't forget what an evil mofo Brown is when he comes to stand out from the rest of the gang and comes into prominence towards the end of the book.


Don't forget Kevin Spacey.

If it's going to be an all-star, Oscar-garnering cast, you could do worse than cast him as Tobin (the ex-priest).

This *is* indeed a book that practically demands to be done at an Academy Award-quality level, or not at all.


Regarding Davey Brown: An important scene is the one in which the Kid alone is willing to help him with the arrow removal. Everyone else turns Brown down AND I NOTE that Brown's own brother (Charlie) is still among them at that point but not even mentioned.

The movie could downplay the explicit violence and still have incredible scenes, such as the burning tree, the encounter with the horsemen in the desert, etc.


Wow. All amazing suggestions. Good analysis.

For the kid: Ryan Gosling.

Toadvine: Ed Norton.

Tobin: Aaron Eckhardt

Glanton: Billy Bob Thornton.

The judge: call me crazy, but I say Anthony Hopkins.

The imebecile: ?????

In any case, the scenes that I would DEFINITELY want to see are (SPOILER ALERT):

1) The judge calling out the preacher and the tent falling down
2) Glanton blowing away the elderly Indian woman in the middle of the street.
3) The slaughter of Glanton's posse by the Commanches
4) Sproule with his maggot arm, then left for dead
5) The horse with the snakebit head (and the dead boy)
6) The white babies strung from their chins in the shrub
7) Slaughter of the Gileno village by the lake, with the babies on the rocks.
8) The judge leading the men to saltpeter and the slaughter on the hill
9) Shooting the animals in the street to make sure the guns worked correctly
10) Black Jackson decapitating White Jackson. Secretly hilarious.
11) The bear carrying away the Delaware
12) The banquet in Chihuaha and then looting the town
13) The burning pile of scalps
14) Random violence in the mountain town (Judge throwing the puppy in the creek and the Vandiemandlander shooting it).
15) Pushing the mules off the cliff as they fled
16) Shooting the idiots in the San Xavier del Bac
17) The judge with his "War is god" speech. This one is CLASSIC.
18) Glanton and the judge with the empty barrel of whiskey in Tucson, then conning the Yumas, then pitting the ferry-man against the Yumas, then blowing away the Yumas with the howitzer. The pilgrims in the background, getting robbed. Wow.
19) The Yumas mercilessly killing Glanton's gang.
20) The Kid and Tobin on the run, ducking behing the carcass with the Judge in his sights
20) The Kid going to San Diego then roaming the countryside on his own
21) Obviously, the kid and the judge in the bar at the end, with the judge dancing the night away as the epiliogue creeps in.

I probably got the order mixed up. One thing I can't really explain is how the Judge turns on the kid. I gotta read it again. Score by Calexico & Jason Molina.

Sue Beaudry

"One thing I can't really explain is how the Judge turns on the kid."


The only way this is explainable is that the Judge is obviously a supernatural being. If he is not Satan himself, he is at least one of the major demons, or the semi-human embodiment of the Spirit of Violence/Destruction/Warfare/Hatred, or something similar.

Notice how, from the moment Toadvine and Davy Brown accept the Judge's money at the end, they are evidently doomed. This is why they end up hanged in Los Angeles: because they accepted the Devil's gold.

The Kid and Tobin both refused to take any money from Holden (remember when the Kid refused to sell his gun?). Instead, they just wanted to get the hell away from him. Tobin's invocation of an exorcism ritual showed that he at last realized what the Judge really was.

Neither the Kid nor Tobin was evil enough to suit the Judge's purposes, this was why he was determined to destroy them. Not that "being evil enough" would have done them any good; the Judge quickly brings about the deaths of everyone he comes into close contact with except for the Kid. Tobin does not really succeed in getting away; we don't know what happened to him.

The Kid, like Faust, seems to have some sort of "reprieve" for 28 years (maybe as some sort of "reward" due to the small touch of lingering humanity left in his soul, unlike the others?) but the Judge finally tracks him down at the very end. And the Judge makes it clear that the reason he is still determined to destroy the Kid is for that very reason, that he was more humane than everyone else in the Glanton gang, and thereby had "betrayed" the gang.

It's the Devil's logic, so it's a pretty merciless and "no-win" situation for the former "Kid." Notice how the Judge has not aged at all in 28 years. He's obviously something supernatural.

Those scenes you cited are all brutal, outstanding, and integral to the story; I don't know who would have the guts to direct this. The director, actors, and crew members would all have to have iron-clad stomachs. But then, so would we, in order to watch it.

Question: How did you know that the babies strung from their chins were white?


Good insights there Sue. I had assumed the Judge simply didn't want the Kid ratting him out to the authorities - but I like your notion more.

As for the dead babies, McCarthy described them as "pale" so I assumed they were white.

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