Dream Casting for “The Whiskey Rebellion” as a Six-to-Eight Part Premium-Cable Series

Dream casting? For The Whiskey Rebellion? So do I already have a treatment written?

Sort of, yes.

Yet film/TV rights to The Whiskey Rebellion are still, as they say, unencumbered. Inexplicably to me, although I’d want to have a big say in what story any dramatization would tell, so whatever. And while my series conception is deliberately funky and low-budget, it is a period drama, so not the cheapest . . .

But the hell with dreary practicality! Let’s talk casting!

You’d have to know the book/treatment for any of this to make sense, but it’s an ensemble piece, with Brackenridge the oddball hero — twentieth century American mind stuck in the eighteenth-century American frontier. So it’s a kind of comedy. Standout roles are: Brackenridge, Washington, Hamilton, Husband, (Scary Explosive Rebel) Daniel Hamilton (name change needed), (Creepy Rebel “Leader”) David Bradford, John Neville. Smaller roles, less distinct in the book, developed or collapsed or composited in the treatment: Albert Gallatin, Moderate Friend of Brackenridge Wilkins, Moderate Rebel David Hamilton, Slimy Tax Collector Robert Johnson, Attorney General William Bradford, Presley Neville, Mrs. Neville, and some other female characters to be invented out of thin air. And some one-sequence walk-offs that will nevertheless be memorable.

Actors: Daniel Day Lewis, Paul Bettany (Hamilton), Giamatti, Depp, Pitt, Von Sydow (Washington/Husband, and yes, it might be right if one actor played both), Jeremy Irons, Johnathan Pryce, Peter Stormare, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nolte, Crowe, Brian Cox, Ian McShane. Obviously the casting variations below would mean differing character conceptions — but that’s why dream casting is more fun than actual writing, and it’s cool to me that this story, unlike so many, would let actors with such wildly different “qualities” be considered for the same roles.

Brackenridge: Giamatti (possible weirdness given John Adams), Depp, Hoffman.
Washington: Von Sydow, McShane, Nolte, Lewis, Irons.
Hamilton: Bettany.
Husband: Von Sydow, Cox, Lewis, Pryce.
Scary Rebel: Pitt, Stormare, Crowe, McShane.
Bradford: Giamatti, Depp, Crowe, Pitt.
Neville: Giamatti, Crowe, Cox, Irons, Mcshane, Pryce, Hoffman.

[UPDATE: Historians will find this nuts — so it must be right — but I think Sean Penn could play Hamilton. Or really almost any other role in this thing.]

Dream Musical Directors: Danny Barnes or Peter Stampfel. That’s it. Nobody else. That’s final.

Locations: a depressed, rural foreign land for western PA; Philadelphia is all interior sets, nothing outside, no re-creations, nothing fancy.

This is the anti-“John Adams.”

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One thought on “Dream Casting for “The Whiskey Rebellion” as a Six-to-Eight Part Premium-Cable Series

  1. I have some fun stuff for you. One of my ancestors, Jonathan Woodside, was arrested during the Whiskey Rebellion for raising a seditious liberty pole. He was fined for his involvement. This was Bedford County. What is interesting to me is that he does not fit the stereotype of participants. He was neither a n’er-do-well, as so many of the participants have been characterized, nor an influential person such as Gallatin, Breckenridge, Findley or Bradford. Jonathan Woodside was a craftsman, a wheelwright by trade. He was also a landowner. At the time of the Rebellion he owned m/l 125 acres in Turkeyfoot Twp and also about 250 acres in Upper Paxton in Dauphin County. Later he acquired more land in Somerset County so that his holdings were eventually about 1000 acres. Interestingly, one of his later land purchases was from the judge who handed down his sentence during the Whiskey Rebellion. Woodside died about 1810 at the age of 52.
    Jonathan Woodside’s son, Jonathan F. Woodside was 10 yo when his father died. The younger Jonathan migrated to Ohio where he eventually was admitted to the bar. He was an eloquent speaker. in gratitude for speeches against the 2nd bank of the US, Andrew Jackson appointed him as the charge d’Affairs to Denmark. Jonathan F.’s daughter married one of her father’s law students, Milton Clark. Clark was a delegate to the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago. After the third vote at the Convention, Ohio changed it votes, thereby assuring that Abe Lincoln was the Republican candidate.

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