If writer/director Charles Matthau was looking to get everyone’s attention for his upcoming adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Freaky Deaky, mission accomplished. A few months back, he got a good start by casting William H. Macy in a major role and today he upped the ante by getting Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Craig Robinson to join the film about a couple of former hippies who use bomb making skills to extort millions of dollars. Dillon plays an LAPD office who becomes wise to the scam, Fraser is one of the hippies, Macy is the millionaire mark and Robinson is his former Black Panther assistant.

Variety exclusively broke the news of this casting which will come to fruition later this month in Detroit when filming begins. Filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, John Malkovich and Richard Brooks have owned the rights to the book in the past but apparently had issues in the adaptation. The original Leonard novel took place in the Eighties, but most of the action took place in the Sixties and Seventies, proving difficult from a screenwriting standpoint. Matthau cracked that when he came up with the idea to just set the whole thing in the Seventies, which Leonard supported. Here’s the plot description from the Publisher’s Weekly review on the Amazon page:

Leonard starts and ends his latest page turner with a bang, and between explosions we meet a vivid group of characters who are mainly veterans of the youth rebellion of the 1960s. Chief among them are Chris Mankowski, 38-year-old Detroit police sergeant, newly transferred from the bomb squad to sex crimes; Woody Ricks, alcoholic auto scion; Donnell Lewis, ex-Black Panther who is acting as Woody’s driver, nursemaid and would-be swindler; Robin Abbott, ex-con, ex-fugitive (she bombed a federal office building) who has plans for a million dollar movie based on Woody’s life, with help from her old boyfriend and erstwhile bombing partner Skip Gibbs, now a movie dynamite expert. The only character who does not have ties to the ’60s is Greta (“Who’s Huey Newton?”) Wyatt, stagenamed Ginger Jones, who meets Chris when she reports that Woody has assaulted her. When Chris pursues the investigation, he is suspended from the force, ostensibly for nonresidence in Detroit but really because of Woody’s clout. Now determined to get to the bottom of things, Chris is caught up in a web of scams plotted by Robin, Skip and Donnell.

Matthau, son of Walter Matthau, has been in the business for a long time but has never been a big part of anything major. He’s directed several movies, acted in more, but most were relatively small. This is his chance – in his late 40s – to finally have a hit.

Have you read this book? Does this cast interest you or does the writer/director turn you off?

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