Casting the characters of Ed McDonald’s Blackwing

Last Updated on August 10, 2019

Ed McDonald’s Blackwing threw itself into the fray in 2017. With its gritty mixture of frontier brutality, despair and dread it solidified itself as one of the best releases of the past few years. To get the ball rolling and get half of Netflix’s job out of the way for them, Ed and I have pulled together a cast ready to hit the Range running.


Our hero. A Blackwing Captain and former military officer, turned alcoholic bounty hunter. Who didn’t love getting into his headspace and seeing the Range and Misery through his eyes? Ed’s picks are Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon) Ed wrote “Galharrow’s main traits are the depression that lurks within him, the shattered sense of self and pride that he has lost, but he’s also supposed to be 6’6 and 300lbs. He needs to look like a guy you would never, ever follow down a dark alley. Mike and Joel both fulfil all of those criteria for me – they have both shown great talent portraying lonely, broken, conflicted characters in great shows.” Both options embody aspects of Galharrow well. I picked Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for his grit and after his lackluster farewell on Game of Thrones I feel many of us could agree this would be a good redemption.


The most powerful Spinner of the Range. I had the hardest time finding anyone to fit this pivotal Blackwing character, Ed however had one lined up immediately and she could master the role like no other. Ed’s choice for the role which I firmly agree with is Martha Higareda. “There was a picture that I saw of Martha and Joel together in Altered Carbon, and I immediately thought “woah, that’s Galharrow and Ezabeth!” She’s a great actor and brings real feeling to her roles, and just as Galharrow is 6’6, Ezabeth is about 5’ tall and so she fulfils the required height disparity.” After watching Altered Carbon for myself I immediately understood and strongly backed Ed’s pick for our master Spinner.


Loveable crazy Nenn, who doesn’t care if you’re cream or common; to her you’re all the same—shit. Ed’s choice is Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot. “Nenn is such a fun character to write, and I think she ended up closely rivalling Ryhalt for fan’s affections. Whoever plays her needs to really capture her die-hard spirit, but also her sense of fun. I follow Gal Gadot on Instagram and Twitter and she comes across there as someone who could pull it off.” Ed also continued with “[She is] fierce, looks like she’d spit in the eye of death but grin while she did it.” For me Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) is a contender. Her work as Gamora showed me she had the combat skills, but her personality from a small role as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean showed the kind of attitude we’d want from Nenn.


Master Navigator of the Mister and longtime friend of Ryhalt, Tnota is an interesting man who seems to be twice as much of a drunk as Ryhalt throughout Blackwing. Ed’s pick for Tnota is Paterson Joseph (Timeless). “Tnota is a hard role to cast. He’s a much more subtle character than either Ryhalt or Nenn, but he completes the triangle. He’s at once both a little bit cowardly, but bound loyally to his friends, and often a reluctant hero. He is funny with it, though, and Paterson Joseph has done some great comedy too.” My pick is Sir Ben Kingsley namely for his voice. I read Tnota in a voice similar to his voice for Sabine from Fable III. (or for me Daniel Radcliffe (Miracle Worker) is more than crazy enough to masterfully navigate in the Misery.)


Count Dantry Tanza needs a young actor who has an air of class, dignity and intelligence. Yet for Ed it was never left up for debate. His choice is Zac Efron. “Getting Zac to play Dantry, who is a more minor role compared to those above, would probably be a bit of a challenge – but I enjoy his acting and he looks right for the part. Dantry has to catch the eye, and Efron also has that vigorous youthfulness about him. I saw him in Baywatch recently and my gosh that guy got ripped.” I went with Zachary Quinto best known for playing Spock in the reboot Star Trek movies.


Prince Herono, rich beyond belief with connections everywhere in the world of Blackwing. She is able to find and rout out brides and conspiracies as if it were child’s play. This mysterious and interesting old woman is the one-eyed former leader of the Blue Brigade and the current Prince in charge on the Range. For the ruler of the Range Ed picked Dame Helen Mirren while I picked Dame Maggie Smith. Ed and I had an awesome chat about Herono who is one of my favourite characters, “Maggie Smith is actually a really good choice as well. I picked Helen Mirren because Herono has to ooze authority and power at all times, and Mirren pulls that off so well in so many roles. I also think she’d get a kick out of playing her. [Mirren] has such a great sense of power and authority behind her acting.”

How do our choices look? I think we have quite the cast lined up for Netflix to start writing the script and getting the auditions underway! With Ryhalt, Ezabeth, Nenn, Tnota, Dantry and Herono already covered there are only a few roles left to cast. Who would you feel would be perfect for the roles and for those we have not covered? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Joe Price

Joe Price

Joe is a writer, reader, and gamer, often found bouncing between one of these golden pastimes when not in class studying in the hopes of becoming a professional writer. Most Fridays, he can be found as Ulrick the Grizzly Bear Bard in a thrilling adventure where every bluff check has the added line of "I am not a bear". He is most at home with a good book in his hands and a glass of brandy or good beer. He was introduced to grimdark fiction by Brent Weeks's The Night Angel Trilogy and, honestly, has only hunted for darker works ever sense.

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