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Casting Call: The Characters of Bob Dylan

"Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" from Bob Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks is almost nine minutes long, telling a complex story that has been adapted into two different screenplays, neither of which were made into films. Set in an old cabaret, the song follows a gang of bank robbers led by a man known as The Jack of Hearts as they attempt to drill into the vault of the bank next door. Their presence in the town sets off a chain of events that ultimately ends tragically. Remembering Casey Affleck's Academy Award-nominated performance as the outlaw Robert Ford in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and his role in David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, we think he would be a good choice to play this mysterious bank robber.

The subject of the song "Sara" from Bob Dylan's 1976 album Desire is not made explicit, but it's almost certainly about Dylan's first wife, Sara Dylan. The song is a fantastical love story that recalls their travels together, with destinations like The Chelsea Hotel, Portugal, and Savanna-la-Mar mentioned in the lyrics. It's a loving tribute to its subject, and would make a great addition to the series. In certain photos Sara Dyland resembles Haley Atwell, who is known for the role of Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

"Romance in Durango" has one of Bob Dylan's more fantastical narratives, telling the story of two people (the narrator and Magdalena) on the run and headed to Durango. The song is sung partially in Spanish and references "Aztec ruins and the ghosts of our people," calling up images of a blistering Mexican landscape. Michelle Rodriguez is best known for her characters in the Resident Evil and Fast and Furious franchises among others, and would be perfect for this tense story of two fugitives. 

From the album Good as I Been to You, "Diamond Joe" features a sleazy Texas businessman as its titular character. Diamond Joe is rich but cheap, and the narrator laments how badly he is treated under Diamond Joe's employ as a cattle herder. Michael Shannon is one of the best character actors in Hollywood and, thanks to recent performances in films such as Take Shelter and 99 Homes, the actor is coming into his own as a leading man. We think Shannon would be perfect for this role.

In "Rambling Gambling Willie," a song from the "bootleg" series of albums made up of previously unreleased tracks, Bob Dylan tells the story of "the greatest gambler," Will O'Conley. Willie travels around America from the Rocky Mountains to New Orleans, cleaning house playing cards. Unlike Diamond Joe, he is a generous character who "spread his money far and wide, to help the sick and poor." Unfortunately, this isn't enough to save him from being shot by another gambler who lost all his money at the table. We think Willie should be played by Ethan Hawke, who recently added a western (In a Valley of Violence) to his wide range of work.

"The Ballad of Hollis Brown" is one of Dylan's most grim and tragic songs, telling the story of an impoverished South Dakota farmer named Hollis Brown. Since its 1964 release on The Times They Are A-Changin', the song has been covered dozens of times by talents as diverse as Nina Simone and the hardcore punk band Rise Against. Over the course of the song's 11 verses, Hollis Brown's poverty and desperation become more and more desperate until finally he turns a shotgun on his family and himself. In our ideal casting, the protagonist of this dark and tragic story would be played by Michael Rooker. The Alabama-born actor has a reputation for tough guy roles like The Walking Dead's Merle Dixon.