You know, The Hunger Games and The Road are great and all, but for my money, there’s no greater post-Apocalyptic story than Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It’s one of the most famous modern sci-fi novels out there, and even though it was published back in 1993, it speaks more to today’s time than any other sci-fi novel that I can think of. So why hasn’t there been a The Parable of the Sower movie yet?
Because again, it truly speaks to our time. And if I could pick only one sci-fi novel that I want to be made into a movie, it’s The Parable Of The Sower. It’s set in the 2020s, and it’s about an America ravaged by climate change, income inequality, and racism. So, yeah, prescient stuff for 1993. And it’s super diverse, too.
I’m always dream casting already existing movies like The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs with more diversity in them, but Parable of the Sower already has a diverse cast living right inside its pages. So, if I was a casting director rather than just a lowly writer, here are a few of the actors and actresses that I would pick to put into the film that we all deserve and yet still haven’t gotten yet. Oh, and minor spoilers up ahead.
The protagonist of Parable of the Sower, and to a certain extent, its sequel, Parable of the Talents, Lauren Olamina is a “sharer,” which means she suffers from hyper-empathy. This is a psychological disorder that makes her feel other people’s pain (and pleasure. Though pleasure is rare in this world). This is debilitating to her since it forces her to care too much in an America that has completely run out of caring. She is also the creator of the religion Earthseed, which preaches the idea that God is Change. Lauren believes that Earthseed is the only path to the future, even though she herself doesn’t understand her place in the movement that she’s creating.
I’m picking Lupita Nyong’o for this character because it’s a very demanding role, and Lupita is just great in everything she does. Though Lauren’s character is quite tall and almost built like a man (which is important since she has to pretend to be a man to protect herself from being raped later in the story), Lupita Nyong’o has the acting chops to be both tough (as seen in Us) but also extremely vulnerable (as seen in 12 Years a Slave), often in the same scene. The character is only 15 at the start of the novel and 18 by the end, but I think Lupita could pull it off, because quite frankly, she can pull off anything.
Reverend Olamina is Lauren’s father and the religious leader in her walled off community. But he’s also somebody who’s willing to protect his family by any means necessary. He teaches his daughter how to use firearms because he understands the circumstances that they’re living in. He’s described as a tall, bold black man whose words carry great worth and value. Plus, he’s the only figure in the whole novel who Lauren genuinely looks up to, which makes his ultimate fate all the more troubling.
If Sidney Poitier wasn’t in his 90s, I’d choose him in a heartbeat as that’s who I saw in my head when I read the book. But since he’s too old for the role, I’d pick Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor, who actually costarred with Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. Though it might be kind of hard to envision them as father and daughter after their performance together, I feel like Chiwetel just exudes power, even when he’s being beaten down. And that’s some raw talent right there.
Cory is the wife of Reverend Olamina and stepmother to Lauren. But while she tolerates Lauren and even shows love to her at times, she sometimes resents her and definitely cares more for her own children, especially her eldest son, Keith, who’s a real piece of work. She wants to move their family from the walled-in community they live in a sort of work station that doubles as a home. But her husband is adamant that this new work station is more interested in indentured servitude than actually lifting people up. She has a pretty terrible fate, but I won’t spoil it here.
Cory is firm but also passionate, and I’ve always thought that about Rosie Perez too, as I’ve followed her career ever since I saw her in White Men Can’t Jump. And after her performance in Birds of Prey, I just see Rosie Perez in this role completely. She’s tough and also spirited. That’s Cory Olamina to a T.
One of the few white characters in the novel, Harry Balter has been listening to Reverend Olamina’s teachings his entire life within their walled-in community. But after disaster strikes, he’s one of the few survivors who has known Lauren since childhood, and he’s not sure he can trust her following the disaster. To say more would be to spoil some of this excellent novel.
Aaron Paul plays a tortured soul better than any other actor I can think of. And he would be amazing for this role, since his portrayal of Jesse from Breaking Bad is similar to Harry’s in that he’s the kind of character you both love and also want to shake by the shoulders to get him to make better choices. Aaron Paul for the win.
The “youngest and prettiest” of Richard Moss’s three wives, Zahra, like Harry Balter, also finds tragedy after a terrible event befalls their walled-in community. At first, Lauren doesn’t trust her, but she learns to see her as one of her most trusted allies once they make their journey across America for greener pastures that most likely don’t even exist.
Kerry Washington plays characters who have tough exteriors because they have to, even though they’re quite fragile on the inside. Most will remember her from Scandal as crisis expert, Olivia Pope, but I remember her most as Broomhilda von Shaft in Django Unchained. I love Washington in this role since she seems brittle and like she might crumble, but there’s a power within her that will always surprise you. Just like Zahra herself.
Bankole comes late in the story, but he’s one of the most crucial characters in the novel. He’s an old man who’s also a doctor and becomes Lauren’s eventual lover. It’s a strange relationship, but these are strange times.
Clarke Peters was who I immediately pictured in my head the first time Bankole was described in the novel. He has a gray beard that he loves grooming and he’s sagacious and smooth beyond belief, which is bizarre in a world like this. Clarke Peters played the suave intellect in The Wire, but also the down brother with a head on his shoulders in Da 5 Bloods. Clarke Peters was made for this role.
There are a lot more characters in the novel, but these are just a few of the major ones. Have you read Parable of the Sower? If so, does this casting sound right to you? Sound off in the comments section down below either way. I’d love to hear your thoughts.