John Grisham talks "The Racketeer," who may play in Hollywood adaptation

(CBS News) Author John Grisham is the master of the modern legal thriller. Several of his books have been made into films starring some of Hollywood's most well-known actors, such as Sandra Bullock, Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Tom Cruise.

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Now Denzel Washington is being bandied about to play the lead in the film adaptation of his latest novel -- his 30th -- called "The Racketeer" about a lawyer trying to find a way out of prison.

The book is a departure for Grisham in that his protagonist is a black man. Grisham said his fans encouraged the choice. "Throughout the years I've had some wonderful fans who happen to be black say, 'It'd be cool if there was a black protagonist. Why can't you have a black lawyer or a black hero or heroine or something like that,' and I thought, why not? Let's do it."

He added, "It's no big deal. It's not about race."

Asked if he sees the book being made into a film, Grisham said he does, but that he can't write like a casting agent. "I don't have images of certain actors when I write a book," he said. "That's a diversion. I'm so plugged into the plot. That's why the books work and Hollywood likes them. It's one scene after another, fairly simple writing style with a really tight plot. Again, that's part of the appeal. But, yeah, they will be looked at and this one seems to have generated more movie buzz than the last half dozen."

But will moviegoers eventually see Denzel Washington in "The Racketeer"? Grisham said, "We sent the book to a dozen of our favorite people in Hollywood and there's some great folks out there we met over the years and everybody says that, 'We got to get Denzel.' But nobody has heard from Denzel. And I learned a long time ago, you never get the one you want. You can never get the right actor."

For more with Grisham on his critical acclaim for his latest book and why he feels sorry for "The Racketeer" readers, watch the video in the player above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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