Writer/director Fabian Martorell recently updated everyone on the project via ChuckPalahniuk.net, and the update came with some awesome casting news. Daryl Hannah, Thora Birch and Tom Sizemore (!) have all joined the project.
For those who haven't read 'Snuff,' it might be the author's most controversial book. In typical Palahniuk fashion, it goes to places most of us aren't willing to tread and follows some rather unpleasant characters living lives of quiet desperation.
This time out, the author turns his eye on the porn industry. Aging porn star Cassie Wright wants to finish her career with a bang – a gangbang. She's looking to set the world record for most men serviced in one event and has lined up 600 willing participants to help her reach her goal. Amongst those 600 wannabe woodsmen are three individuals – Mr. 72, Mr. 137 and Mr. 600 – who have unique reasons for attending. Palahniuk's tale follows these men as they reminisce in the green room while waiting for their turn with the porn princess. As with most of Palahniuk's work, there are unexpected revelations – both about the individuals and the world at large.
Hannah has been selected to play Cassie Wright, and the choice is a good one. Wright spends much of the story being the willing recipient of a parade of men's "affections," and Hannah has that mature, yet still-attractive quality that makes her feel like a perfect fit for the part.
Thora Birch, meanwhile, will be playing Sheila, the female "talent wrangler" working the green room and keeping the steady flow of men moving. The role is an important one in the grand scheme of the novel and while Birch's career isn't quite what it once was, she could turn things around here.
The real wild card in the news is Tom Sizemore. Sizemore is set to play Mr. 600 –- the last in the line. Mr. 600 is a porn veteran in the novel, someone who's been around the business for a long time. The troubled actor certainly looks the part – the question is whether or not he can stay out of trouble long enough to make the film and channel the actor he used to be for the role. We're hoping he can on both counts because we love Tom Sizemore and are rooting for him to get his life in order and make a big comeback.
Palahniuk's novel spends a lot of time chronicling the behind-the-scenes side of the porn industry. The book was at least partially inspired by Gough Lewis' documentary 'Sex: The Annabel Chong Story," which followed porn star Chong's quest to set the world gangbang record by having intercourse with over 250 men in one sitting. It remains to be seen how much of that material will make it into Martorell's film, but some of it seems essential to set the tone.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about an adaptation of 'Snuff' is that it tackles some very risqué material but doesn't have to be an NC-17 film. The sex of 'Snuff' is a sleight of hand on Palahniuk's part – it's the sizzle to get readers in the door before he serves the steak of the story, namely each character's motivation. Martorell could easily keep the sex off-screen for much of the film and earn an R-rating, or he could run wild with it and get slapped by the MPAA. The former seems more likely than the latter.
At any rate, it's good to know things are moving forward with 'Snuff.' Two key roles, Mr. 72 and Mr. 137, have yet to be cast. Mr. 72 calls for a younger actor as the character is looking to lose his virginity – and hopefully gain something more – in front of the camera. 137 is a mainstream star who's reduced to doing porn after he suffers a career setback. Think Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg type of actor for Mr. 72 and someone like a Paul Bettany for Mr. 137.
What do you think? Is 'Snuff' more of a 'Fight Club' or a 'Choke?' Will the controversial subject matter turn off mainstream audiences or have we all become comfortable enough with pornography in the Internet age and after movies like 'Boogie Nights' that taboo subject matter isn't enough to kill a film outright? Share your thoughts below.