Cormoran Strike News: Book Four in February 2017? BBC Strike only 5’10”? Absurdity of a Short Doom Bar Detective

COETwo big pieces of news about J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike mysteries!

The really important but anything but certain revelation is that there are Twitter Rumblings about Cormoran and the release date of Book 4, still untitled. The reporter at the link above speculates that we could be reading what Louise Freeman has suggested will be the London Olympics story (in parallel with Goblet‘s Quidditch World Cup) as early as January or February next year.

(The Rowling Watcher’s logic in play? “She talked about Book 3 in April the year it was released in October, therefore her mentioning this in August means we have six months to go…”).

The second news drop is much less speculative and much more disturbing.

The BBC has supposedly cast the actor to play the Doom Bar Detective on television, Tom Burke. He’s reported to be the right age and sufficiently scruffy. My question, though, is ‘How tall is he?’ The girth he can take on via a fat suit, but another Daniel Radcliffe height mismatch in casting I think means we’re in troubled waters for a successful adaptation. Cormoran doesn’t grow up in his story; he’s named for a Cornish Giant for a reason.

burke-1Who cares about the teevee show? I do, me, Mr. Kill Your Television. Because just maybe a teevee show of any quality will be the fracking we need to start Cormoran Mania’s first gusher. [Sorry, fracking is on my mind today. Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on here!]

The reporter for both these articles? Andrew Sims, formerly a big player at MuggleNet, still a MuggleCast podcaster, and now founder of Sad that he seems to be the only media type interested in the Peg-Legged PI.

Oh, no! The word on the street is, egad, handsome Tom Burke is only 5’10.”

Really? A Cormoran Strike actor who isn’t even six feet tall? I fear, too, that Tom Burke’s 5’10” is a Hollywood measure, which means he is a tape measure 5’8″ in lifts. Can you say “Disaster”?

rickman-tybaltBut he’s sort of related to Severus Snape! Rickman relation or no — and forgive me, Rickman was a man who said theatre was his spiritual calling; who chooses this sort of a person to be Godfather to their child? — I have to think this is a failed choice.

[Rickman, by the way, was 6′ 1″ to Radcliffe’s 5’5″.]

Strike is huge and it touches on everything he does and the impression he makes on everyone, not to mention his problem with the peg-leg.

MuggleNet’s Keith Hawk told me last week in conversation at Chestnut Hill that he is 6′ 3″. Which makes a decent point, no?

Men that are over six feet tall are not exactly a rare breed. We all have friends that tall. Taller.

Are the Wizard Decision Makers in BBC casting saying that acting prowess and blockbuster credentials trump fidelity to physical characteristics?

ron-hermione-and-roseThis goes beyond ‘Black Hermione.’ Size matters. Hermione’s race wasn’t a story plot point and issue. Cormoran’s height and bulk is almost another character in the novels.

For example:

  • How is Strike going to seem intimidating to Matt, Robin’s jerk of a fiancee, if the jerk is six inches taller than Cormoran?
  • Are we supposed to believe the 5’10” on a tall day Strike was a heavyweight boxer capable of inflicting brain damage with a single blow?
  • Does Charlotte Campbell give a bloke shorter than she is, no matter how clever, the time of day?

Forgive me the rhetorical questions. No, No, No. NO.

I can hear the feedback already from the Heavyweight Google searchers… “Mike Tyson is 5 foot 10, and Joe Frazier 5 foot 11, so, yes, it can be done.  He will need to appear bulked up onscreen, though.” 

but Matthew had not expected Strike to be so big. He had a couple of inches on Matthew, who enjoyed being the tallest man in the office. Silkworm, p 76

marciano-aliTyson and Frazier are rightly famous as the hardest hitters and the shortest Heavyweights in several generations. Only Rocky Marciano is both Heavyweight champion and also less than 6′ tall. Check out Rocky in retirement next to Ali. Marciano was the Spud Webb ‘exception that proves the rule’ of heavyweight boxing.

George Foreman 6’4″. Ali 6’3″. Larry Holmes 6’3″. Ken Norton 6’3″. Joe Louis 6’2″. See the pattern?

I’m guessing that, for Matthew to be the tallest man in his office, he is 6’2″ at least. That would put Cormoran “I forgot you were such a big bastard” Strike at 6’4,” a good six inches taller than Tom Burke. Probably more because I doubt the verity of 5’10” in casting land data (something like NBA draft data).

burke-6Six inches. That’s the difference between me and Tom Burke. Would you cast a 5’4″ actor to play Tom Burke in a film series? Of course you wouldn’t.

And to the inevitable objection that Charlotte might be a petite beauty? Not likely.

The word used repeatedly for her is “supermodel.” Preferred height of a supermodel? 5’10 to 5’11”. 9 of the top 10 supermodels are 5’9″ or taller, 4 are over 5’10”.

Shorter models may not have much success in the industry despite exceptions. “I would not be looking for anyone under 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches. That’s the absolute minimum,” a top modeling agent told in a March 2009 interview in response to a search from “America’s Next Top Model” for short models.

charlotteI’d put Charlotte — who takes men’s breath away from a distance — at a statuesque 5’11” or 6′.

Tom Burke would have to be making Tom Cruise money to appeal to a beautiful woman this tall. Cormoran never had that going for him. Take it from me, brains and a lively sense of humor have their unbridgeable limits in the natural selection Mating Game.

And Cormoran doesn’t like petite women, remember?

burke-2Sorry to get so worked about this. If I hadn’t had such high hopes that the little screen version of the first book might ignite the long anticipated Cormoran mania…. I think that becomes much less likely when they cast an actor who falls so far short of the Doom Bar Detective. Literally short.

But who knows? Buxom Jennifer Lawrence was a casting error, too, for Katniss, the Appalachian Pippi Longstocking, and Josh Hutcherson the short thespian who played bulky Peeta measures 5’7″ in Hollywood inches. Those disastrous choices worked out well for the franchise… Sort of.

Anyone else see a possible silver lining here?


  1. Louise M. Freeman says

    I’m in a much more wait- and-see type of mood. At least in the face, Mr. Burke looks very much like I pictured Cormy: scruffy, heavy-browed, tough but with combat-weary eyes— and judging from the clips of him I’ve seem in War and Peace and the Three Musketeers, he looks like a fine actor. And that a big head of hair— I doubt they’ll go for the “pube-like curls” described in the text but that’s fine with me— the last leading man to pull that style off was Greg Brady.

    I think we’ll have to wait until the rest of the cast is filled in to judge whether the height is going to be an insurmountable issue. Certainly a good actor can be imposing in other ways besides stature. Not all the book details will make it into the film; maybe Charlotte will be a drop-dead gorgeous socialite instead of a model, or maybe she’ll be the type of supermodel Susan Lucci played as Erica Kane on All My Children for about 3 decades: all 5’2″ of her.

    I had my doubts when I heard Woody Harrelson (aka the innocent bumpkin of Cheers) was going to be Haymitch but he wound up wonderful in the part. Tris was supposed to be the shortest and skinniest of her initiate class; casting Zoe Kravitz as Christina messed that up, but both actresses were so good in their roles (at least in the first Divergent) that they made it work. You never really know until it hits the screen.

    Matthew’s height is really not an issue for me— in fact, the less I see of him, the better I’ll probably like it. As much as I’d like to see Robin as the curvy type of woman who actually worries about losing weight for her wedding instead of the traditionally toothpick-thin Hollywood type, the most important thing to me is that she can act.

    The thing that I’m most bummed about is that the series is coming to us Yanks on HBO, instead of public television. So far I’ve gone my life without ever subscribing to HBO– and missed some pretty great shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones in the process. Am I going to have to break down and get it for the sake of Detective Strike and his trusty house-elf?

  2. Reminds me of them casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. It just doesn’t work! Reacher was the tall (6′-4″ I believe), imposing former Army M.P. with a quiet confidence that intimidated. Cruise is a short, cocky, Napoleon posturing that just does not fit. I was also irrationally irritated by the casting of Brenda in the 2nd Maze Runner film – she did not match the written description of the character, and my mind just could not get past it. But, that film did not even follow the books story line, so larger issues to account for.

  3. The best silver lining I have to offer isn’t my own, it was expressed by the critic Samuel Leslie Bethell way back in aught 44:

    “Every approach to Shakespeare has something in it of value, but I am convinced of the fundamental importance of the words themselves – of the poetry – and of the…secondary importance of a knowledge of Elizabethan stage conditions. My own particular approach…can be undertaken only in the closest association with pure literary criticism…(Bethell, Shakespeare and the Popular Dramatic Tradition, 16 – 17).”

    In other words, there’s a bit of a dark secret here. Yet it’s really very simple. All storytelling mediums rely on the presence of an actual “text” in order to fulfill their function. If a book, a theater, or a sound-stage have no written words to go on, then the whole point of storytelling has been frustrated. Stories and actors both need words or “poetry” in order to achieve their goals. All is else is secondary.

    For all those reasons, when it comes to Strike adaptations on the small screen, the only thing I’ll be interested in is whether or not the writing holds up. In that regard, the only thing I hope they don’t do is try some kind of half-baked gender swap for the main character. That would just through everything off balance as far as the story goes.

    The only other lining I can offer comes courtesy of an old Dire Straits song: “Well, you know what they say about beggars.”

  4. So, I just found out Mugglenet has given us our first look Comoran and Robin for the BBC adaptations of the first three Strike novels. The link, containing images of Tom Burke and Holiday Grainger, can be seen here:

    My thoughts are as follows.

    My first impression was that Burke almost puts one in mind of Dan Radcliffe, that is if the other actor had maybe spent some time in the gym while gaining a bit of weight. As for Holiday Grainger, she more or less goes well with the image of Robin I have in my head.

    I don’t know if resemblance was a factor in their choice of casting, nor am I convinced it matters all that much. Burke isn’t who I see in my head when I think of Strike. If I’m being honest, the person I see is Clive Owen (Children of Men). Burke will do as a good second choice, however even that isn’t an issue with me. I maintain that in the end it is always the writing, never really the look of a story that determines its worth.

    The kind of ties breakers I would be looking for would be more toward whether the writers change things enough so that it can be legitimately said that they have shifted characters and situations to such a degree that the were just using Rowling’s works as a jumping off point to their own “interpretation”.

    If that were to happen, then I’d say we’d be left waiting for a better adaptation somewhere down the road. Thankfully, we still have a chance to see if the BBC will cooperate with Ms. Rowling’s text. We just have to see what happens. Fingers crossed!

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