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Just in case you thought I'd given up writing novels for good to switch to blogging full time, a little bit of news: FedEx just delivered a box this morning, and it contains my author copies of the Ace mass market edition of The Jennifer Morgue. Which, according to Amazon, is officially published on January 9th ... but if I'm getting the copies it's already printed and in the publisher's warehouse, which means it'll be arriving in regular bookstores in the next two weeks.

I've pretty much finished the copy-edits on book #3 in the Laundry series, "The Fuller Memorandum", which is due out in hardcover from Ace around July 1st next year (and in paperback in the UK from Orbit).

And I'm finally free to announce that an option on the TV and film rights to "The Atrocity Archives" have been sold to an outfit with an address in Beverley Hills.

(Disclaimer: This does not mean that a film or TV series is going to be made — it merely means that a production outfit likes the idea enough to pay a relatively small amount of money to hang onto the rights while they try to raise finance and work on a script and generally put the wheels in motion. In case you were wondering, a three year film and TV option pays about as much as a midlist paperback deal: you don't get to give up the day job at this point. But: at least it's a start. As they say: money talks.)




A potential Laundry TV series or movie? Very exciting! Even if nothing comes of it, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that the series is getting that kind of attention.

Here's hoping they don't strip out all of the IT in-humor.


Hey Charlie. I just finished reading the Clan Corporate. Is that series done or will there be more? Ok, what I really love is Accelerando, but the Family Trade stuff is still entertaining. :)


Charlie, did you write in a Rowling-type clause to prevent them Americanising the Laundryverse?


Excellent news.

I love TV rights deals - for me at least it feels like money for no actual work. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that they *at least* exercise the option.

Mine is being exercised at the moment and hopefully it'll mean a month or two of my rent is paid for.


ben, this is Hollywood. If they make a Laundry movie, I confidently expect the following to happen:

a) The Laundry will be transplanted to Maryland;

b) Bob will become a square-jawed all-American hero (probably an ex-marine);

c) All the geek humour will go out the window;

d) The movie accounts will show a disastrous mess with zero profits all round so that the author doesn't get paid;

e) But, if I and my agent do our job properly, we will get the right to use stills from the movie on the cover of a paperback reissue, which will leverage its fifteen minutes of motion picture fame to hit the New York Times top 20 bestseller list and drag sales of the rest of the series into the stratosphere (at which point I will console myself by sobbing heartbrokenly on a mattress -- or at least a pillow -- stuffed with $20 bills).

Hollywood: after you shake hands, count your finger and toe joints, then check you've still got your immortal soul. (As an atheist and a materialist, I know I haven't got one in the first place. Nevertheless? Even if it doesn't exist, they'll find a way to steal it.)

DJPO: Nope. Rowling got that clause because she was a multi-zillionairess and stakeholder in the production company. I don't have that kind of clout -- yet.

duckintheface: you are presumably in the UK, right? There's a hitch in PanMac's publishing program. More books in the Merchant Princes series do exist, but you'll have to buy the American editions via amazon.com or a specialist bookstore. (You are looking for, in order: "The Merchants' War", "The Revolution Business", and, next March 16th, "The Trade of Queens".)


Congratulations. I am also very much looking forward to the new Laundry novel.


Yes, congratulations. Out of curiosity, how long did it take to complete the deal ?


I'm a Maryland resident, so that probably doesn't sound as horrifying to me as it ought to. In term's of bob's actor, we can always hope it's a Hugh Laurie rather than a Bruce Willis (of course, assuming anything happens at all).


David @7: about 12-18 months.

ben @8: transplanting the story line to Maryland would nuke continuity with subsequent books, from #2 onwards (where a certain agency from Maryland are introduced as the ~Bad Guys).

As for Bob, think in terms of Simon Pegg (although by the time they get funding in place and start filming he'll be a bit on the old side for book #1). On the other hand? Richard E. Grant would be perfect for Angleton.


Yeah, Pegg would be a good fit! (Sorry:-) I know you can't go into details, but if goes to TV hopefully it's a cable channel. May be not SYFI...can I imagine greater?


Just FYI, it's "Beverly Hills", with only two "e"s.


Will there be a Golden Gryphon version of "The Fuller Memorandum" to match their editions of "The Atrocity Archives" and "The Jennifer Morgue?"


>Simon Pegg

Ooh I never thought of Simon Pegg as Bob! Thats an interesting view.

Bob seems a bit more upbeat than the usual characters played by Simon Pegg (e.g. Spaced, Shaun, and the guy from Run Fatboy Run) though.

On the other hand he did a good job as Scotty.

Can we have a 'who would play Bob and the other Laundry characters' thread please?


Some casting thoughts I've had for Angleton; my first thought was John Hurt, then reading a description in 'Pimpf' (I think it was) I thought of Peter O'Toole.

For an American version of Bob, perhaps Josh Schwartz from a show called 'Chuck' though that maybe kinda too obvious since it's about a computer geek/accidental spy.

Also keeping in mind that there's a Hollywood tactic of buying rights to keep something from being made while you work on your own, similar project.


@14: so the show should be called Cthuck...?


Well I know it's a long step from selling the rights (which can languish for years) to anything ever being produced. But I and my many angled colleagues eagerly await the silver screen.

It's a pity no-one could shove this under Barbara Broccoli's nose. Ride off the Bond producers, be assured of that essential UK feel - and possibly get a few good reels out of it too!

I'd always imagined Bob looking like Simon Pegg wierdly - I can just see him doing the Hot Fuzz dour face whilst standing in the rain in the first chapter.
Well Simon Pegg or me, obviosuly. I'd be great...ok that is a lie.

How about throwing some kind of competition for fan film trailers - drum up silly youtube interest and get the money folk stroking their chins?


Oooh, Simon Pegg as Bob. I would highly approve.

I believe Hemminway said (translation: I'm too fucking lazy to Google it, and the truth might not be as funny): "Hollywood. They take your children, rip them apart, rape them, destroy them, and return them to you unrecognizable. And what do you get out of it? A fortune."


Hi Charlie,

Just remember to keep your mouth firmly shut until well after the film hits the screen.

I think you're a little too negative about the ex-Marine, because it's possible that the comedic points will get played up and you'll get an action comedy.

Anyway, unless there's something about "percent of the gross" in your contract, you're right, there will be no profits, despite the assistant producer's new Veyron.

Good luck, though. I thought the Laundry was cinematic when I first read it.

Now Halting State, that would be fun...


Yay for Laundry Movie(tm)! Definitely Simon Pegg for Bob. For Angleton how about Alan Rickman? And if it's Americanised, Sam Shepherd, Scott Glen or Lance Henriksen.


To be honest, I don't think any of your movies themselves would be good directly translated to the big screen. They're too thinky for Hollywood. I think there are a pair of ideas in Halting State that would make for a good pair of movies by Hollywood standards, but again, I don't think itself would make a good book.

If I had the movie rights to Halting State, I'd break it up into two books, one of which deals with the robbery inside of a videogame and is heavy on the obvious CGI angle of a videogame. Definitely a special effects extravaganza oriened for the teen audience. The other one would be more of a spy action thriller oriented around people playing a spy game and discovering they're being used as spies.


Charlie@9: There's a really simple fix for the continuity problem if the Maryland option happens. The studio can use those perfidious backstabbing Brits as the bad guys. There's even material ready-provided about their down-at-heel offices, hopless organisation, and so on.

I hope you get more money out of this; I'm sufficiently alienated from Hollywood that I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy any resulting movie. NB: I am sufficiently alienated from moving picture-media in general that I don't have a TV. No, I am not interested in "you'll enjoy this..." recomendations. I don't need more time-sinks.


Nickp @12: no, "The Fuller Memorandum" hardcover will be published by Ace. (Golden Gryphon are a small press; they can't handle the print and distribution demands this book is likely to incur.)


"d) The movie accounts will show a disastrous mess with zero profits all round so that the author doesn't get paid;"

Unless I'm mistaken, you got paid when they bought the option, so the hypothetical profits of the hypothetical production wouldn't make any difference to you. That is, unless the purchase price paid to you consisted in part of points on the gross-- as you know, points on the net would almost certainly be worthless by reason of the famous Hollywood accounting principles that you describe.


@20: Not sure I agree, Martin. The advantage to Halting State is that the CGI parts can look, well, CGI--much of the virtual world plays out on cell phones and eyeglasses, after all. That makes it potentially cheap to do, because the CGI shots mostly don't have to look real.

While this is not meant as a criticism of Atrocity Archives, it could be easily handled as one of those trashy SyFy Saturday movies (and unfortunately, that might be where it goes. Who's your favorite D-list actor to play Bob?). All you need are some CGI tentacles from under the door, and some time shooting in a Russian winter with the sky redrawn for the finale. The rest of it can come from props, basically.


Dennis: you are mistaken. (An option is not a movie deal; it's merely a preliminary that prevents me from selling the motion picture rights to anyone else for the duration of the option contract. If they subsequently decide to exercise the option, then we go back and hammer out a whole 'nother contract, for the actual motion picture rights.)

NB: we (my literary agent and I) are already going through a movie rights sub-agent. If it gets to the point of actually exercising the option, then we go in turn to a Californian law firm who specialise in motion picture contracts. There is a special term we use for authors who try to cut corners when dealing with media firms: "idiots".


Wow, that is awesome. I don't expect much from a movie, but even if it's only 10% as good as the books, it could still be a lot of fun.


Funny, I see Bill Nighy as Angleton...

But seriously now, Charlie: who's your pick for Mo?


Live and learn. Best wishes with the optionholder ultimately realizing the cinematic potential of the book.

Michael Byrne (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0126250/) for Angleton? I liked the suggestion of John Hirt. Or Michael Gambon (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002091/)

Who would you cast as, say, Andy, or Pinky and the Brain, or Nick, or Alan, or Mhari, Bridget, Harriet, etc.?


Congrats Charlie! I hope your books are perpetually optioned at truely silly amounts of money and no insipid films or T.V. series are ever made. Especially if it's Americanized. Especially if they make a monster-of-the-week series out of it.
You channeled Len Deighton so well in The Atrocity Archive that since reading your post I keep thinking of the mid-60's adaptions of Deighton's books. Caine as Angleton?


I have no idea who most of these thespians are; I don't watch TV drama and I think I may have caught one movie in the past year.


This is obviously good news, although as you say, this is merely the first step in a long process.

Charlie, is there any reason to believe that you will not get to either write the screenplay or consult for same to keep the flavor intact?


Alex: I have zero screenplay experience, and no interest in movies/TV, and so would find it more productive to write my next novel rather than doing a screenplay based on one I finished nine years ago.

Consulting ... if they ask, I'll think about it. But? It's a distraction from my real job, which is writing fiction. (And I already have some consulting work lined up. Add any more, and I'll begin running short on writing time.)

(The nearest I've ever come to scriptwriting is when an editor at Marvel wondered if I'd be interested in taking over "Iron Man". I did my research, and got a serious hate on for Tony Stark -- so serious I couldn't do it. I don't play well with superheroes ...)


Simon Pegg as Bob? Nah, too skinny. I always pictured Bob as more of a Bill Bailey type ...



To be honest, I don't think any of your movies themselves would be good directly translated to the big screen.

(I assume you meant books, of course)

There's usually a format that can translates well, and it's the novella. In Charles' case, there's one ready made for big screen adaptation: A Colder War.

If you can avoid the studio & director who would insist on a happy ending, that is.


One of my friends (an IT worker) loaned me The Atrocity Archives, after which I went out and purchased a copy for my own library. I heartily agree with all the other folks who think the Laundry series would make great movies, but I also shudder to think what Hollywood would actually produce.

And it's entirely your fault that I'm reading Lovecraft. And HATING him utterly. Both he and Tolkien definitely needed the services of a good editor...


I actually saw the paperback version of The Jennifer Morgue in Borders today. Was surprised to see it so soon.


Treatment by
Story by


This depressing government building is the secret home of the Laundry Observers, a government department secret society devoted to protecting the planet from ancient horrors.

A door swings open and a man rushes into the room. He is attractively dishevelled and breathing heavily. It is BOB

Angleton, we must do something! Mo has been captured by a nameless horror!

I'm way ahead of you, Bob. Here are photographs showing the site of her abduction. Notice how they match the symbols on these charts?

But that means -

Yes. Mo has been captured by demons from another dimension - where the Nazis won the second World War!

If we don't rescue her then the Prophecy will remain unfulfilled and the Old Ones will devour us all!

Grab your gear. We're going in!

In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the Old Ones who crouch at the threshold of human understanding. She is - the graduate!

I actually saw the paperback version of The Jennifer Morgue in Borders today. Was surprised to see it so soon.
Yes, this seems to be a running theme for Charlie's books. When I got my (trade) copy of Jennifer Morgue from B&N about a year ago, it was a few days before it theoretically should have come out, which I duly noted for Charlie in the relevant thread announcing its imminent release (which I first saw after I had bought the book)
ben @8: transplanting the story line to Maryland would nuke continuity with subsequent books, from #2 onwards (where a certain agency from Maryland are introduced as the ~Bad Guys).
Still talking about the Laundry right? Well, I haven't seen past number 2, and while their actions were pretty bad by my recollection, there are much creepier and eviler things than a bunch of Americans jumped up on ~magic running around.

Anyways, as John said, you can just improve the reflection and have evil Brits or (more likely) some other foreign spy agency, like the Chinese, Russian, or Iranian, or even some NGO, like the Al-Qaeda you so helpfully suggested in #1.


(tongue firmly in cheek)

>I have no idea who most of these thespians are

IMDB is your friend, its like the man page for an actor


How about Clive Owen for Bob? Except not in his recent "trying to be the UK's answer to Nicholas Cage" mode, rather something like his character in Children of Men.


He's far too manly but how about Jason Statham as Bob?

For the girls I'd have to go with Rachel Weisz or Claudia Black for Mo and of course Angelina jolie for Mhari - because she's weirdly unhuman


@5, @18, @22, @25:
My favorite factoid about Hollywood accounting is that Anthony Minghella had net points for the 'The English Patient' and didn't see one red cent from them. Of course adapting and directing a multiple oscar winner had ancilliary career benefits for Minghella, but still....

@9, @21:
Surely there are enough three letter agencies in the federal bureaucracy for one of them to be working at cross-purposes to the Laundry. It's been a while since I read them, but I don't recall any plot necessity for the antagonists to be a *foreign* agency.



Congrats on the TV/movie option!


Simon Pegg as Bob? Excellent choice. I could hear him in my mind when reading the Laundry. But if not... what about Nick Frost, Pegg's partner in crime? I could see him in a black NIN t-shirt saving the day for geekdom.

And no - not Jason Statham for the part, please. Perhaps he could play Captain Alan Barnes in head-kicker mode, but the director better get him to turn the Cockney waaay, waay down. Remind him that for most of the book, his appearance is of a schoolteacher. A springy, suspiciously dextrous schoolteacher, but a weedy-looking one, anyway.

As for Angleton - Rickman isn't threatening enough for the part. I'd prefer Christopher Lee, but he's really getting a bit long in the tooth. However, I think Geoffrey Rush could be up to it, based on how he played Elizebethian spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham - utterly, utterly menacing.


Man, this thread is turning into a gold mine of interesting trivia. I'm going to spend the rest of the morning thinking about what Iron-Man brought to you by Charlie Stross would have been like (It makes it more interesting that you dislike the character).


ben: Tony Stark might as well be a Mary-Sue figure for Donald Rumsfeld. Want to see me write a misunderstood/comic Adolf Hitler? That'd be easier to do than for me to write Iron Man (other than by turning the frame upside-down and making him the villain).


Charlie @9
I was thinking John Hurt as Angleton.


"(other than by turning the frame upside-down and making him the villain)."

Actually, that sounds like fun. The subversion of cliche and lampooning of fantasy-fulfillment is a pretty good formula. Maybe a plot exploring what would REALLY happen if the ego-maniacal ubermensch of capitalism/war profiteering developed himself a weapon of nearly limitless power and unilateraly declared himself a one man world police force.

Maybe we'd get a force for good, and maybe the sun has an ice-cream core.


Charlie@47: did you just Godwin your own blog?

Pretty much all the powerful superheroes cannot have meaningful stories written about them, they are just too Mary-Sue for words.

But then the comics world thrives on it which is both a reflection on the average comics buyer and the comics companies that supply them.

There's a lot of good stuff that can be done with comics as a format. It's such a shame that so much is utter wish fulfillment drivel. No wonder it's not taken seriously.


Robin @50

There are a few comics out there worth reading. I'm reading "Powers" right now, which is mostly about "super heroes" being bastards just like everyone else, and the common police officers who have to try to arrest them.

Other than that, yeah, the overwhelming majority of comics are written by and for stunted man-children. Attending the Baltimore comic-con almost felt like going to a convention for illustrated pornography, I won't be going back.

Before this thread becomes a complete troll-fest on comics, I will admit, that I would love to see what Mike Mignola could do with the Laundry-verse in comic book form. He has a fantastic art style, and he does really well when playing with cosmic horrors/Nazi-weaponized folklore. Assuming that everyone here likes the atrocity archives, I'd definitely check out the Hellboy series



I seem to recall hearing something that Tony Stark did become evil - of sorts. I think there was a super hero civil war or something a few years back, culminating with the assassination of America's favorite hero captain America. I believe Stark was all for some hero registration act.

Down and Out of Sai Gon@45

I think Lee would be good as well. Angleton is supposed to be some crotchety ancient old dude. Being long of tooth might be an asset.


Ben@51: I love Mike Mignola's artwork. I've read some of Powers too. I've been collecting Invincible in graphic novel format as well, it deals with some of the usual tropes in a fairly refreshing manner.

Strangely I don't think Christpher Lee would make a good Angleton, he always struck me as more like Peter Cushing (if I remember the right actor), I think Charlie describes him somewhere as rather wizened and mummy-like (but I may be misremembering)


Whoever plays the Brain has to be able to do a decent Orson Welles for certain lines.

Down and Out @45; I'd prefer Christopher Lee, but he's really getting a bit long in the tooth.

Isn't that the point? That's why I suggest Peter O'Toole -as he is now. Though if there are flashsbacks a slightly younger Angleton could be played by David Bowie (I've always wanted to see them in something, maybe as brothers)

steph moore @36; Have to say I agree. I read the Laundry books back in January and followed it up with some Lovecraft, had read a little of him before and not been impressed, and remain so. Sure, he was imaginative, but not much of writer (imo). 'At the mountains of Madness' reads like a long dungeon module where nothing actually happens. (Lovecraft fans, please be gentle with me.)


Pinky and the Brain: How about Mitchell and Webb? AKA PC and Mac.

They're British, slightly odd, and can act. Plus, and not trying to be insulting, they come across as slightly 'gay'.


I think I'd rather see a TV series than a movie (although I suppose the greater publicity of a film might give your books a better boost). Perhaps you might even get a shot at writing an episode or two (assuming that they don't change it so much that the very thought makes you nauseous).

Now perhaps some enterprising studio will realize that "Saturn's Children" could be done economically in CGI, with the uncanny valley actually working to advantage.


Robin @55 I really like the idea of Mitchell and Webb as Pinky and Brain! I'd never considered it, but now you've said it I can see them pulling it off perfectly!

Though I still like the original assertion of Rober Grant as Angleton. The slightly chinless, penetrating eyed man who can go from softly spoken to intensly scarey in a mere moment.

Also I'm more than vaguely intregued as to Charlies mention of a consulting job? Anything your Strossian underlings might be interested in Mr S?

I was recently hooked on the new Stargate series mainly because I found out Scalzi was the creative consultant on that.


I started watching the movie Iron Man. I gave up when spoilers Our Hero, locked in a cave with guns, metal-working and welding equipment, rocket fuel, ammunition and so forth, decides that the best way to escape is to invent a flying robot suit. Instead of, you know, just cutting open the door and walking out with the guns.


I was recently hooked on the new Stargate series mainly because I found out Scalzi was the creative consultant on that.

Yes and look how utterly dull the series is turning out to be. Actually, i enjoy the science fictional aspects like the ship refueling from a star but the human drama is leaving me colder than deep space. Apart from Rush i guess, who is a total misanthropist - excellent.


Joe In Australia @58: That's not the bad part!

Building a bullet-proof suit of power-armour with flamethrowers was perfectly logical; there were like fifty guys out there with Kalashnikovs, Uzis and a light machine gun, and they were watching him constantly via CCTV; without being bulletproof, he wouldn't have made it five metres past the door.

No, that part ruled. The part where MY suspension of disbelief came crashing to the ground was where the suit dropped out of the sky, and inertia ceased to exist. Tony shoulda been stone cold dead.

(No, the ARC reactor is fine, a lot of great scifi is built on the "One Impossible Thing" model.)

The reason why Iron Man was such a great movie, apart from the witty dialogue, was that the inertia thing was the only thing which stood out to me as poorly done. They couldn't have put in a throwaway line about Higgs compensators? Just for me?



tgibbs@56: For Saturn's Children to be done right, it would have to be given to the Japanese. They are the best in the world when it comes to making quality animated movies that happen to incorporate explicit sexual scenes. Anime has a proud history of hard science fiction. PLANETES has been mentioned here before, but Cowboy Bebop is also mucho grande qualitismo.

Combine that hardcore anime edge with the kick-ass dialogue, mind-blowing ideas and classic thriller storyline of Saturn's Children, and you'd have one hell of an awesome banned (in Germany and Australia) X-rated (everywhere else) movie!


I'm still holding out for Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd for Bob. I hear that he was over in the States for the US version of the show, so there's a slight chance that he might get on the radar for the role. But The Atrocity Archives will probably feature American actors (or possibly a Briton who can do convincing American) in an American setting. I don't think a US production would be able to, or would want to, get the localization right. What I'd like would be The IPCRESS File, what we'd get would be Austin Powers.


I have no problem with adolescent power fantasies, though I haven't read many comics since Gaiman's Sandman. Anime I've never gotten into,maybe it's a generational thing (like Rap)!


Antipaganda @61: See the CGI anime movie "Malice Doll" sometime. It's about a group of sexbots left on a crumbing Earth after humanity has died or gone away.


Not really much like Saturn's Children but there are thematic similarities here and there (including the chibi munchkin androids).


Three years... that's pretty short. Sounds like a deal with no significant downside for you. Even an awful movie or syfy tv miniseries is presumably a plus for book selling and you already got some cash. Its a: Win! win. Win?


Have you lot across the pond heard of Jimmy Fallon? He was the first guy I thought of when I heard Hollywood was going to ruin one of CS's books. But he is on the "telly" full-time now so they'll have to find somebody worse...


Tim @59 - funnily the human aspects are also one of the reasons I'm enjoying the series. And I have a suspicious feeling that, just possibly, the interaction isn't what Scalzi is a creative consultant on.

Oddly my housemate said a similar thing yesterday (as you did). I don't know you obviously - but my instant thought was "hmm - he doesn't like character development...that explains quite a bit."

Science Fiction shouldn't always be about big space ships and explosions. The human aspect of any story is what often makes it - and for SG:U it makes it.



Of course, i'm all for the character arc of the story, done believably and consistently obviously. But i'm currently spoiling myself with battlestar galactica which is giving this SG:U a LOT to live up to in that area and currently failing, for me anyway. Though the episode tonight finally had a showing of a hint of promise.

Ooh what about Michael Sheen as Bob? Or even Angleton? I can see him playing either.



The human aspect of any story is what often makes it

If you don't put lots of human aspects, you end up with geeky spaceporn or something like that.

But there's good ways and bad ways of doing it. One of the things that a lot of modern shows attempt is to shower you with a ton of main characters, and try to make you care for all of them. And that's genuinely hard.

That's why SG:U is really weak. How many main characters are we shown? A dozen, at least. Then, we're subjected to firehose-strength exposure to get us to know all of them as fast as possible to "establish" the show. Compare this to the 10-year SG-1 run: in SG-1, you had 4 main characters, period. You had secondary characters galore, some of which got a good piece of exposure, but that came later.

Look at all the good series that have very long runs. Apart from the token exception-to-the-rule, they all have very small, very tight main cast. Half a dozen characters top. You have plenty of supporting characters, but you don't try to prop them as pseudo-main.

I think the episode where they all record their messages on the Kino exemplifies what's wrong. You're showered with dozens of characters, and your monkey brain refuses to admit them into the sanctum of the "these are people and I care about them" all at the same time. Pyschosociology shows that we have a finite capacity to care about people (which caps at a total of about 150), and attempting to cram more people (even fake people, like show characters), specially fast, usually fails.

Of course, this wouldn't apply to a Laundry adaptation. There's a clear small set of main characters, and all the others are really secondary. No character overload.


Congrats on the option.

May Keanu Reeves' name never be associated with it.