Huckleberry Finn tells it like it is. His frankness is one of his most endearing qualities, quite underappreciated by some of the adults around him ("Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town because hew was idle and lawless and vulgar and bad"). It is part of Huck's wildness, his resistance to "civilization." A near feral child, Huckleberry never had a family in the same way as his comrade Tom —Huckleberry's father is the town "drunkard" and dies during The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Tom and Huck may be friends, but unlike Tom, Huck will never be at ease in society, he is not a "respectable boy."
In short, Huckleberry is television gold. Who doesn't like an attractive outsider? A bad-but-not-really boy, who just needs the love of the right person to settle down.
If Huck Finn were in his mid to late 30s, we'd cast Anson Mount—he wears the dirty, unkempt look so well on Hell on Wheels and is a genuine Southerner. Alas, Huck is but a lad of 20-something in this series, so we'll go with Into the Wild's Emile Hirsch.
Photo by Doug Inglish, Interview, February 2007.
For Tom Sawyer, the more accessible of the two, we want an actor with the right mischievous twinkle in his eye. We considered Luke Grimes, Anton Yelchin, and Craig Roberts, but ultimately think that The Borgias' Augustus Prew would make the best Tom. Although Prew hails from London, he just finished filming the Civil War drama Copperheads, so hopefully he can wrap his tongue around a passable Southern accent.
Photo by Mark Segal, Interview, October 2010.
Amy Lawrence, Tom's first childhood fiancé, is not a major character in Twain's novels. We are going to promote Amy to a series regular, however, as we're not sure a television show will succeed on ABC without at least two attractive ladies. We envision Amy as a sweet girl, still upset about her brutal treatment at the hands of Tom. We nominate the ultimate cutie-pie, Carrie MacLemore, to play Amy.
Blonde Becky Thatcher is the girl of Tom Sawyer's dreams, his second childhood momentary fiancé. We'd like to see Becky gain a little bit of sass and gumption as she matures; it doesn't seem fair that only the boys get to be mischievous. Everyone knows the quickest way to convey "sassy" is via red hair, so we're casting Rose Leslie, perhaps better known as Ygritte on Game of Thrones and Gwen on Downton Abbey, as our Becky.
Another common trick when translating novels to the television screen is to make old, average looking characters young and not average-looking. In our series, the character of Jim, a former slave and arguabley Huck's best friend, will be played by the stunningly handsome Mehcad Brooks.
One adult character who shall remain so is Sally Phelps, Sawyer's aunt and one of the many people who try to "civilize" Finn. We nominate Susan Saradon for the part of Mrs. Phelps, because that's who comes to mind at the word "adult."