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"Casting" your characters - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
"Casting" your characters
I was just looking at a thread on casting OCs with known actors. When I was younger, I used to cast a lot of my characters from the faces of actors I liked. They would always morph subtly in my brain--a sharper edged nose on one, a wider smile on another. But I could picture a movie and there it would be. It was convenient for discussion because there are, you know, pictures around.

I haven't done this for awhile. I have one notion in my head that's vaguely Hayden Christensen-esque (only he's not quite as bulked up as he was in RotS, and he's wearing little wire rimmed glasses for some reason), and Ewan MacGregor just locked in my head as Remus the second I heard that random rumor. I should point out thought, that "my" Remus is Ewan-esque in look, not Ewan. He looks like they could be related fairly closely. He's also being overtaken by images like caladan_dd's and Tinaling's, particularly this piece.

But for the most part, I don't know where the people in my head come from. When I commissioned this piece from leelastarsky, she asked for references on Elizabeth to help get her the way I saw her, and I found myself very frustrated, because I can see Elizabeth absolutely perfectly, but I have never, ever seen her before in life, though she's appeared for me fictionally a few times. She's a weird amalgam of faces I've known--one girl named Sandy, another named Tracy, someone else I've seen and can't place, all aged up from my memory of children I went to school with--and her face came to me first, no kidding, as Valentine Wiggin when I was reading Ender's Game. Why I should "cast" Valentine as Elizabeth is beyond me, as the two characters aren't similar, and it doesn't help, at any rate. I finally ended up picking the gymnast Shannon Miller and trying to convey that Elizabeth was thinner and older and her chin wasn't exactly the same and... I must have done all right, as leelastarsky came remarkably close to the woman living in my head, but I don't know where on earth that woman came from in the first place. The same is true of the face I have in my head for Tonks. Kind of Pat Benatar-ish, I guess, but not entirely.

Along with actors, I almost never "cast" people I know well. That's understandable--when I see danaedark or chienar, I'm thinking, "Oh, it's danaedark or chienar," not "Wow, new person!" But people I don't know well and rarely see are in SEVERE danger of ending up starring in my stories. A gorgeous redheaded guy sat across the classroom from me in Talmud class in college. We passed maybe five words in a semester, but his face ended up at the center of a series of stories I wrote about a young actor. (He's also appeared in my mind-movie of My Name is Asher Lev.) An exquisitely beautiful old woman--we're not talking someone who tries to hide her age; she looks at least in her late seventies--who I see at the T stop regularly and who I happened to run into at the ballet as well was stolen with no shame at all to become Miriam Levinson. A girl whose name I honestly don't remember, who was in a class I took on Women in Western Religion, had interesting curly hair and a round, hobbit-ish face, and she's Rosie Cotton in my head. Just, boom. One look, and she became Rosie. She also appeared as Eloise in my story "After Darkness." Heaven knows why; I don't know her. Another woman in that class joined the cast of a comic book I was working on. I only remember her name because the name is one of my favorites.

Maybe it's a good thing I don't draw well. I could get myself in trouble with those "castings." ;)
19 comments or Leave a comment
kikei From: kikei Date: August 15th, 2005 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I tend to end up using random people I know or various celebrities as models for characters too. The most obvious example would be Rufus Wainwright being Regulus Black. I've used so many pictures in manips and icons and banners and the like because... well, I did have an image of Regulus in my head, and then someone on a Regulus-centric community mentioned that Rufus would make an interesting Regulus, so I looked it up and it was almost a perfect match (except my Regulus has blue eyes, whereas Rufus has Gray-green, and just other, very minor things). Other examples- a girl I knew from kindergarten and primary school is Hermione in my head, but characterwise they couldn't be further. A boy from my neighbourhood back home is cast as young Sirius in 'Intended'. and so on :)

myf From: myf Date: August 15th, 2005 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I can definitely see Rufus as Regulus, but I never thought of it before. Especially in that shot from Poses, it's just perfect.
kikei From: kikei Date: August 15th, 2005 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
It is, isn't it? his new look isn't as conducive to Regulus as the Poses era pics but I do find that he is eerily like the way I envison Regulus. it's a good thing because there are so many pics of him floating around, I'm always able to find one when I want to make a particular story banner or the like :)

disturbed_kiwi From: disturbed_kiwi Date: August 15th, 2005 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Off Topic

Sorry, The last one deleted due to terrible format.

Anyway, I don't know if you've seen PotterPuffs before but I thought you'd find this image appealing.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: August 15th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I've done some celebrities, but that can be weird. For instance, I saw Jennifer Garner as Remus's little sister, Artemis - and then saw Jennifer Garner in a movie trailer for a movie where she was tracking down Werewolves. That was a little freaky. ;)

Sometimes I picture them as combinations of people, sometimes people I know, sometimes celebrities. I see Tonks as a picture I saw of Laura Rees; Remus looks a lot like David Thewlis, minus the facial scars, and with hair that has more gray in it. (And minus the bad facial expressions - was it just me, or was his mouth half open in every other scene in PoA?)

And sometimes, actors in book based movies surprise me. When we were shown Coltrane as Hagrid, I gaped because he looked exactly as I'd pictured, down to the brown clothing - which I don't think canon ever says he wears. (Or does it?)

affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: August 15th, 2005 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yes, Coltrane as Hagrid was astoundingly like the Hagrid of my head, too. In fact, it was one of the things most pleasing to me about the movies. That, and the Great Hall ceiling.
drakyndra From: drakyndra Date: August 15th, 2005 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I always picture Snape as looking like one of the teachers from my first secondary school. Only with dark hair, and a bigger nose.

But that was mainly because said teacher was the freakiest guy ever, and I was just completely terrified of him. He had the whole "Shut the hell up and listen to me, or you will be in so much trouble" vibe going for him, and he had this tendency to sneak up on people, and moved incredibly quietly.

He also had an affair with one of the students, but that's beside the point...
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: August 15th, 2005 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's awful...
drakyndra From: drakyndra Date: August 15th, 2005 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
What, the affair thing? Well, considering the girl, I'm not particularly surprised. She was known to be slightly...open to suggestions, shall we say.
coffee_n_cocoa From: coffee_n_cocoa Date: August 15th, 2005 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
It's not just faces...though when I first saw Matt Lewis in PS/SS I remember thinking "That's exactly how I pictured Neville!"...It's voices as well. Certain characters sound like certain actors in my head while reading the story. In OoTP, Gran Longbottom sounded like Judi Dench, and Bellatrix sounded like Catherine Zeta Jones (creepily enough, especially when she says, "Why, I've had the pleasure of meeting your parents, boy").
marukka From: marukka Date: August 15th, 2005 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this is a strange concept for me to get. I never give characters in my head the faces any people I've seen, they all come out with their own faces to me. Which is also the way I draw them, if I do. I go out of my way to avoid seeing too much of actors, official art or "fandom official" art of characters, even, so that repeating visuals won't replace my own images.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 15th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
About half of mine are like that (like I said, Elizabeth is totally out of thin air, though if I concentrate I can break down a few features to ones I've seen). But sometimes just random people I see enter central casting in my brain and end up in fics I write and books I read. Other people in my brain are complete figments of my imagination. I can see Travellin' Jack in The Talisman in every detail, but have never in my life seen a child who looks even remotely like him.
danaedark From: danaedark Date: August 15th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about not "casting" real people in your head. I'm perfectly able to accept, for instance, how the actors playing the characters look in the movies, but that's generally not how the characters in the *books* look to me. Trelawny comes to mind, because for some reason I got a pretty clear picture of her from the book, which didn't really look like the movie at all. I don't think I could possibly describe her, but I'd definitely know her if I saw her. (Although, Fern, I did picture Gala looking a little bit like you.)
super_pan From: super_pan Date: August 15th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really had hoped that Ewan MacGregor was going to be Remus. Yes, I'm a great big Ewan fangirl, but the fact remains, that man can act. He can convey so much with his eyes, and I thought that would do well for Remus. However, I actually ended up loving David Thewlis as Remus.
Also, may I friend you?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 15th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Be my guest.

I'm actually not a Ewan fangirl--I like him in SW, but have no raging desire to see him elsewhere. He just clicked for me as Remus. I guess I'll never love Thewlis in the role. I don't have any hatred about him or anything. I'm afraid once I stopped fuming about missing plot elements in the PoA movie, I just didn't care about it one way or the other at all. He did an adequate job, but was still physically wrong for the role.
super_pan From: super_pan Date: August 15th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

missing plot elements

Five minutes, if that much, would have been enough time to explain the Marauders. They could have taken time from the trio running, or Harry sitting around waiting for his past self. Still, not as bad as Peter Jackson changing Faramir so he tries to take the ring.
Nerd out.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 15th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes characters are just there in my head. Sometimes, if I think about it, I realize I'm borrowing bits and pieces from assorted people. Actually looking just like a particular person is the rarest but it happens.

So, my Cho Chang looks an awful lot like a girl I took PE with, but it took me I while to realize that's who I'd conjured her up from. Er, my brain had redone her as Asian but it seems the girl I based her on was blond.

When I read Little Princess for the first time, I filled Miss Minchin's school with faces from my own elementary school. Since I had a poor grasp of historical clothing back then, I pictured one girl walking around in an 18th century ballgown. Well, a modified 18th century ballgown. I don't think Martha Washington would have been caught dead in it. But that girl in that dress still shows up in my head every time I read the book.

(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 15th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
No. He's in an old-fashioned suit, as well. Looks like the new schoolteacher in an old-west town. He's standing at the bottom of a hill. It's windy. That's all I happen to know about this character as of now. I tried a story, but it flopped; it was apparently not the right one.
danaedark From: danaedark Date: August 15th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Um, really bizarre question for you: is there, or will there be, a hanging? (Just something that popped into my head when I read your description).
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