Sunday, September 19, 2010

Author MJ Fredrick Dons a Casting Director Hat

MJ Fredrick and I have a lot in common, not the least of which is our, uh, obsession with TV and movies. So it should come as no surprise that we both use actors and actresses as models for the characters we write. It helps give a visual representation for a character on the page as he or she comes to life. Sometimes it's fun to try to cast the characters of books written by others. Today, MJ does a little of both. We hope you're in a big screen kind of mood because we're ready to play casting director today. Let's begin...

My son and I were talking about books that are being made into movies, and he was surprised by the casting of Julia Stiles in the upcoming movie, The Bell Jar. (He’s 19, btw.) He said she wasn’t at all what he pictured. We went on to talk about the possible remake of The Great Gatsby. He thought Brad Pitt should take the role of Gatsby (And why not? He looks just like Robert Redford.) and Edward Norton should take the part of Nick, the narrator. I think that’s an excellent choice.

I love True Blood and think they did a great casting job, especially with Alcide. JUST what I thought he’d look like. Rworr.

I stopped reading the Stephanie Plum books a few back, but NEVER would have expected Katherine Heigl to take the part of Stephanie. I’m sure she’ll be fine, and I don’t know who I would have picked instead. Only not her.

As long as I’ve been on the Internet, there have been discussions of casting. The popular debates are over who should be Jamie from Outlander (totally Phillip Winchester, the guy who was on that short-lived Robinson Crusoe show, Crusoe) and who should be Roarke from JD Robb’s In Death series (give the kid from White Collar a few years). There’s even a website dedicated to the fun. (DO NOT GO HERE IF YOU WANT TO DO ANYTHING ELSE TODAY!)

I’m reading the book Soulless and can totally see Emily Blunt as Alexia and Gerard Butler as Lord Maccon (he’s Scottish, after all). Maybe we’ll throw Edward Norton in as the professor.

Another series I’m in love with is The Hunger Games. I don’t know enough about young stars to cast them, but that’s a movie I’d love to see. Maybe the boy from Percy Jackson could be Peeta.

I think casting Joss Ware’s post-apocalyptic novels would be fun, too.

I always cast mine, at least the main parts. In my historical, Sunrise Over Texas from Carina Press, I saw Jared Padalecki as the hero and Adrienne Palicki as the heroine. Yes, they were once matched as a couple on Supernatural, which helped, but she has such a different look and could easily be cast in a historical. And Jared, with his shaggy hair, well, just slap a cowboy hat on him and voila! I think the cover artist did a great job of capturing him.

In my romantic suspense, Don’t Look Back from The Wild Rose Press, I saw Evangeline Lilly as Liv, the tough-as-nails doctor-turned-operative, and Gerard Butler circa Reign of Fire as the disgraced soldier Del. I’ve actually used Gerard Butler a lot—he was the model for my hero in Beneath the Surface from Samhain Publishing.

Do you like casting books? Or do you prefer to create your own pictures? Which books would you like to see made into movies? And who would you cast as the main characters?


Linda Henderson said...

Is he mine again?

Laurie Logan said...

I think I prefer using my imagination. I can never find just the right real life person to suit the character. But my a friend of mine loves casting all of her characters and does a really great job.

Linda Henderson said...

Maybe J.D.Robb's In Death series with Colin Ferrill or Gerard Butler as Roarke and Angelina Jolie as Eve.

Linda Henderson said...

Is he mine again?

Pat Cochran said...

I am absolutely terrible at trying
to cast any of the books I read!
Do you suppose it is because I
always suggest the same actor for
all the male roles?(David Boreanaz
of "Bones")

Pat Cochran

MJFredrick said...

Thanks for having me here, Banditas! Laurie, I'm having that trouble with the book I'm plotting now. It's another historical, and I've found the perfect model for the heroine, but the hero is harder to cast.

I would LOVE to see the In Death books as movies. I don't think we'll ever find a Roarke that suits everyone's ideal!

Pat, nothing at all wrong with David Boreanaz. Nothing at all :)

Unknown said...

well done Linda GR must like it with you

I am like Laurie and just use my imagination.... I don't really watch many movies and can't remember their names LOL

MJFredrick said...

Barb, I totally get that. I've always been a big TV fan. In fact, your comment reminded me that when I was a kid, I'd write out complete casts for my stories. Even the most minor character had an actor model. I guess that's how I know so many actor names!

Fedora said...

I'm awful at casting, too! I either prefer to know who the author had in mind when she was writing the book, or I'm fine with just letting my mind fill in the details as I read--not always with specific people. Anyway, hooray, MJ!

And enjoy the rooster, Linda!

Deanna said...

Linda, congrats on the GR. Have fun with him.

As to casting, I think I prefer my imagination. If I've read the book, I find that I'm often disappointed when I watch a movie or TV version of it. If I haven't read the book, then it doesn't matter as much 'cos my imagination hasn't had a chance to paint the hero or heroine or other characters.

I find that I was not terribly crazy about the casting of the characters in True Blood (though I love Stephen Moyer as Bill) but that might have been more the fact that they made the TV series a lot darker than the books and I read (and loved) the books first.

Helen said...

Linda he really likes it at your place have fun with him

Hi MJ and Trish

I watch very little TV and movies (too many books to read LOL) so I am never any good at this game LOL. I tend to get a picture in my mind on what the characters look like without using TV and movie stars and really enjoy them that way. As for a book or series I would like to see made into a movie Nalini Singh's Psy Changleing series but who to choose for the roles I have no idea I am sure you will be able to come up with some for me.

Have Fun

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Fedora!

Daz, I love Eric and Lafayette and Tara in the show, even Sam, but you're right. Dark dark dark! My son and I were talking about it last night, because he watched an episode at his friends. He hated it. I like it, but adore the books.

Helen, I keep hearing about Nalini Singh's books but I've yet to read one.

Trish Milburn said...

Linda, congrats on nabbing the bird. What will you do with him today?

Laurie, lots of people like to use their imaginations. I guess, for me, I have a hard time visualizing without something to help me.

Trish Milburn said...

Linda, I've not read enough of the Robb series to comment on those choices for those characters, but I think they're both fine actors.

Pat, there could definitely be worse actors to cast in everything. :)

Trish Milburn said...

I find that I like to read books after there's been moving casting done. For instance, the first of the Harry Potter movies came out before all the books did, so it was easy to see and hear the characters in the books as the people who played them in the movies. I guess I'm just a big fan of TV, movies and books.

pjpuppymom said...

Congrats, Linda! He must like it there!

Welcome back, MJ! Love that cover on Sunrise over Texas and love a good western. I'm going to have to check that one out.

I mentally cast the books I'm reading in my imagination. It's hard for me to use real people because their real lives and personalities tend to interfere with the imaginary world within the story.

I'm with you on Katherine Heigl. Such disappointing casting!

MJFredrick said...

PJ, thanks! I do love this cover! I'm hoping Katherine will do an awesome job and we're pleasantly surprised :)

Trish Milburn said...

Isn't that cover beautiful? I just loved it the first time I saw it.

I agree with the casting of Stephanie. While I've always liked Katherine Heigl, this just didn't seem to fit for me. But I too hope she can pull it off. Now I wonder who'll be cast as Joe and Ranger.

MJFredrick said...

Jason O'Mara, who was in that show last year about the guy who traveled back to the 1970s, is Joe. (NO!!!) One of the guys from Rescue Me is Ranger. (NO!!!!!!)

MJFredrick said...



Trish Milburn said...

OMG, who is the casting director!? Those dudes, while not ugly, are NOT even close to what I had in mind for those characters, especially not Joe. Wah!

MJFredrick said...

The guy for Joe is too old! Aren't he and Stephanie supposed to be the same age?

Anna Campbell said...

Linda, you must have treated him right yesterday!

MJ and Trish, what a fun game! I almost ALWAYS cast my hero and heroine although they develop their own life as I write and diverge further and further from their original as the story develops. One of my fave bits of casting was 1980s Bryan Ferry as the Earl of Erith in Tempt the Devil with a young Lauren Bacall playing Olivia. Those two were just perfect and in fact continued to look like those people throughout the book.

MicheleKS said...

I've cast my heroes more often than my heroines though in my current series I've actually got people picked out for both and most of the supporting roles.

For the part of Lisbeth Salander in 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' movie I'm kind of having trouble seeing who they've cast for this part. Physically she's a bit taller than the character is described. But I will say that Daniel Craig as the hero of the book is perfect- he's just that great of an actor that he'll nail anything he does.

As for Roarke in the In Death series.. I haven't really seen anyone that fits that bill though there may be an actor out there who can pull it off. And as for the Stephanie Plum movie... I'll reserve judgement (Katherien Heigl is definetly not who I saw in that role).

Nancy said...

Linda, congrats on the bird!

MJ, welcome!

I don't visualize actors and actresses as my characters. A lot of writers find doing so helpful, but I don't. To me, it makes them less mine, less their own, when they have faces I recognize.

I'm so out of the loop anyway that picking actors and actresses is tough for me. I always need help from someone more clued in. I'll take a stab, though--if I were casting C. S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, I would cast Matt Bomer as Sebastian, Reese Witherspoon as Kat, and Sasha Alexander, formerly of NCIS and now of Rizzoli and Isles, as Hero.

Trish Milburn said...

Anna, I think you've hit on something that casting helps us get started with learning who a character is, and as the writing goes along maybe they begin to diverge from that and become their own person.

Trish Milburn said...

Michele, I've not read the Stieg Larsson books, but I bet that's one where the casting was watched closely. Of course, sometimes there an outcry when someone is cast and it turns out okay. I remember there was such an outcry when Robert Pattinson was cast as Edward in Twilight, and now that's all but forgotten as he has legions of fans now.

Trish Milburn said...

Nancy, I love Matt Bomer. I just finished watching the two seasons of White Collar that have aired.

I do like to cast people as the ideas for my heroines and heroes that are not the big-big stars. It's more likely to be someone like Bomer than, say, Brad Pitt. I like to do collages before starting to write, and at one point I thought that wouldn't help me. But it did. I ended up being more visual than I thought.

MJFredrick said...

Anna, Brian Ferry the singer? I can totally see him as an Earl!! And see, the fun of it is that you don't have to pick actors from the same era. And I like to watch that character for mannerisms, or listen to cadences of voices. It helps me differentiate between characters. For example in my WIP, I'm using Sam Worthington from Avatar. Only he's Australian in the book (and IRL) so I've been watching one of his old movies, Dirty Deeds, to get the cadence of his voice.

Michele, I always like who you cast for your books :) I've not read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, though I heard they want Daniel Craig for the male lead. That should make you happy :)

Nancy, thanks! I LOVE Sasha Alexander. I used her as the model for a heroine in the book I just submitted, in fact!

Trish, I make collages, too. Apparently I'm very visual. ;) I didn't do one for Sunrise, but I did for DLB.

Annie Solomon said...

I just cast my upcoming book, Two Lethal Lies. It was lots of fun!

MJFredrick said...

Who'd you use? I'm shamelessly curious :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, guys, just interrupting MJ's fun interview to say Liz Carlyle is blogging on Risky Regencies and Avon are giving away $1 to Cat Angels, a fab charity, for everyone who comments. Let's make some serious cat-lovin' money here, folks!

Anna Campbell said...

MJ, I think Bryan Ferry was bigger here and in the U.K. than he was in the States. I had such a crush on him when I was in high school. And he's the perfect Regency rake - that sensual mouth, those heavy-lidded eyes, that drawling voice. Yum!

MJFredrick said...

Anna, probably. I only remember a few Roxy Music songs, but I can absolutely picture him as a member of the ton!

Unknown said...

Oh, y'all people who know popular culture so thoroughly....I always kind of want to slink away into the corner cuz I never know what to say.

I would be horrible at casting because I'm so ridiculously behind on movies and I never see tv. (I'm a tv zombie. I mean, if a commercial is on, I sit there and stare at it. The house could burn down around me and I wouldn't know until the tv went off, which is why I don't watch it.)

My characters, when they come to me already formed, always look like someone I've never seen-which, in a weird way, makes them more real to me. I kind of feel like they're real people and only I can see them *cue scary music*.

I do have to dig through magazines and the web, looking at images and faces to find someone for a character for the times they're NOT fully formed, though. And every now and then I'll be looking through a magazine and come across a face and go "OMG! That's _______ (fill in name of character who's just appeared but who hasn't had much of my attention yet). So I look at the magazine to see if it's current. If it is, I go buy it. If it's not, I'll offer pretty much anything to be allowed to take it home or tear out that photo. I try not to steal them, but yes, I have been that desperate a time or two.

It's sad. I know this.

So I cast my books for certain, but it's never with people whose names I know, and I'm afraid it's almost never with actors. Hey, if I sell, y'all will have to cast my books for me. That would be fun!

SiNn said...

i use my imagination im avery visual person and id ont like when authors do the whole usen real people as covers and such or lemme rephrase id ont like when cover artists us actors on covers for books ie twilight . im avery visual person and using my own imagination helpss with that process not seeingw hat someone else lays out for me