Saturday, 12 April 2014

Fantasy Casting

I mentioned at the beginning of the week that I've been inspired to write my story Behind the Scenes again recently. It's heavily influenced by the area I live now and also places I went to regularly when I was at university in Glasgow (although I didn't know that at the time when I was writing it originally).

In a nutshell it follows four different characters, three of whom are actors in a film being made in Scotland, and their relationships with each other. Over the course of the story, which is about a year in their lives, their relationships change and so do their attitudes towards each other... or something. Like I said on Monday, it's very much a work in progress.

It's been influenced by a number of other things, not just Scottish places and buildings. Namely films... about half the story takes place on a film set, thank you Lord of the Rings special features. There's also a hint of Jack & Sarah and Animal Attraction in there as well.

You can also kind of tell what TV series I was into at the time I was writing it as well because there's an Abby and a Susan (that's the E.R. influence) and another character has a mother named Cathryn Sanders (names pinched from CSI).

I've been thinking about who I picture the characters as in my head. I know some people do fantasy casting as a sort of creative exercise as they're planning or writing a story. There's only really one character who I've always pictured as one person, conveniently he's now actually just about the right age for the character I picture him as.

I've mentally cast Hugh Jackman as Jack Walker, the heartthrob film star, because just look at him, you just don't need to imagine that. I'd like to point out that I was incredibly restrained and did not in fact use a topless photo of him... not that I've got any of those...

*Ahem*, where was I?

Jack is a bit of a playboy character which I suppose is why I picture him as Hugh Jackman because at the time of starting to write the story one of my favourite films was Animal Attraction, where Jackman plays a playboy sort of character (who does walk around topless on at least one occasion, take note folks). He's quite a self-centred sort of guy until the events of the story happen and he has to take responsibility for Abby, a younger family member.

I've never really been able to pinpoint exactly who I think Abby is. She's seventeen at the start of the story and is involved in a car accident which killed her parents and leaves her on crutches for most of the story. She's also badly scarred by the crash, most of the scars are easily covered but there's one on her head that is hard to hide which makes her very self-conscious.

Watching Labyrinth last week I had a sudden flash that she might look a little like Jennifer Connelly (as she appeared as a teenager):

Abby's quite a confused young woman, having been uprooted from her home and thrust into the limelight as Jack wants to keep her close whilst continuing to work. She's grieving and adapting to her new lifestyle when Jack drops a bombshell on her about the family. She spends the rest of the story coming to terms with that... and kind of falling in love as well.

The other person I didn't really have a picture of was Alex. He and Abby develop a rather complicated relationship after she kind of runs away Jack. I've always thought of Alex as being a really good looking guy in a slightly unconventional way, though I'm not sure what that would actually look like. There have been moments when I've been watching TV or I've seen a guy on public transport and thought, he looks a bit like an Alex but I've never seen a definitive Alex.

This guy is Ben Barnes who I found whilst searching for actors in their 20s for this very post. Apparently he was in the Narnia films and there's something about his eyes that makes me think of Alex.

The other person who makes me think of Alex, who I was kind of thinking of before I started searching, is Kit Harington from Game of Thrones:

He's kind of got a similar look so I guess that's the sort of style I'm going for. I picture Alex with shorter hair and no stubble. He definitely has dark eyes which isn't really something I'd thought about until I started seriously writing this post and playing around with Google Image searches.

Alex has had a rough sort of life, moving around a lot. He's quiet and sensitive, speaks his mind and often doesn't come across well. This movie is his big break and he's a little bit worried that he's going to say or do something to ruin it. He and Abby gradually hit it off and become quite close but obviously their relationship can't be that smooth and complications arise.

Alex's role in the film is in part due to Anna Kent putting his name forward. Anna Kent is a beautiful English Rose type actress, the sort of person who frequently gets cast as royalty. She's been Anna since the story's inception but I'm toying with changing her name because of my four main characters three of them have names beginning with the letter A. Abby and Alex will always be Abby and Alex, but I feel less close to Anna's name so if anyone gets the chop, it'll be her.

For the last few years, because even when I've not been writing it, I've been carrying it around in the back of my mind. I've decided that Keira Knightly is a fair embodiment of Anna.

One of the minor characters who is slowly playing a bigger part in the rewrite is a Californian called Keeper. I cannot for the life of me figure out who he is, except that he's got that sort of squeaky clean Disney image. He's like one of the kids from High School Musical... I'm just not entirely clear on him yet.

The only other person I've mentally cast is the director of the film, who's really just a bit-part. As I was lying in bed last Saturday night planning this post I realised that John Rhys-Davies would suit well.

If you write, have you ever done a fantasy casting for one of your stories? Or are there books that you've read and picture certain characters as being played by particular actors?


  1. Very interesting post, and it sounds like a very interesting story too! I think a lot of writers do fantasy casting. I know that I do, specifically with the gargantuan Hopemouth fiction I do over on HTV (3 years and counting now) and Michael does exactly the same for his fics over there too. When I co-wrote the two novels that were self published a few years ago both myself and Nick, my collaborator, would toss around ideas for casting. The novels were thrillers set in the swinging 60s which allowed us to run riot with imagining some of the big names of the time like Terence Stamp and Catherine Deneuve as our heroes. I also used to write a series for a lit website about a rather lecherous lecturer and always imagined Bill Nighy when I wrote. And I always end up picturing actors or approximations of actors when reading novels!

    1. Glad you enjoyed this one and I'm pleased to see I'm not alone when it comes to fantasy casting. I think the internet makes it quite easy to do this compared to in the past. When I was looking for an image for Alex I was able to just Google 'good looking actors in their 20s' and sift through the results. ;-)

      I do it myself when I'm reading. That's why I refuse to watch The Time Traveler's Wife, it's one of my favourite books but the actors cast for Henry and (especially) Clare are nothing like the way I pictured them. I'd find it really distracting to watch.


Let me know what you think. :-)