When I’m writing a character I always know exactly what he or she looks like. I use people I’ve seen – actors and musicians, usually – so that I can “see” the characters enacting the story, speaking the dialogue, etc. I never do anything so gauche as to write, for example, “Anthony looked just like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront,” but Marlon is there, nonetheless, in my mind’s eye as I write. Here are five of the beautiful men I’ve used thusly:
I first came across Javier Bardem in a foreign film I forget the name of. He’s a wonderful actor, and I love his heavy-lidded eyes, his slow smile and his world-weary expression. He looks like a man with secrets, which is why I cast him as a semi-alcoholic has-been rogue of a Greek space captain. His face just looks like it has seen too much. He looks just a little rough around the edges. Perfect!
I’m not a huge fan of Tupac Shakur’s music, but I think he has the most wonderfully expressive eyes. He was perfect for casting as a man who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for a political crime. The character is proud, overly confident and has a massive superiority complex. Every now and then, though, a glorious, boyish smile breaks through. A man with a smile like that could be forgiven anything. I so wish I’d gotten to see Tupac as an older, more mature man, but alas…
I first saw Eric Bana playing an overweight and violent Australian career criminal. He was fantastic! I’ve seen him in a few films since then, and he never fails to impress me. In particular, I loved him as Hector in Troy. I actually put a picture of him on my wall, which had my hubby worried for a bit (bearded Hector in armor on a horse – can you blame me?) I cast Eric as a part Irish/Mexican/Native American trauma victim with a taste for poetry and solitude, who has massive communication and trust problems. Eric has the kind of dark good looks that are hard to pinpoint. He could fit into so many ethnicities. I like that in a man.
I’m not quite sure why Sting popped into my head while I was writing a man who had committed crimes against humanity – the kind of man whose name is whispered by the people who fear him. With those cutting cheekbones and icy blue eyes, he just lodged himself in my head and refused to budge. I tried to replace him a few times, but have now given up. Sting is here to stay – and he does look perfect for the coldest character I have ever written.
I’d seen James Purefoy around the BBC block, but it was his role as Marc Anthony in Rome: The Miniseries that really grabbed my attention. It was a wonderfully huge and bawdy role – Purefoy was unforgettable. I cast him as a cocky Italian-American businessman with more money than morals. He has a perfectly wicked smirk that was just right for my businessman and he seems so polished and suave in many of his pictures. I really enjoyed bringing this character down a peg or two.
So, what do you think of my casting couch? Who would YOU cast as one of your favorite literary characters – either ones you’ve written or ones you’ve read? Incidentally, Casting Couch was a game I used to play with a co-worker on slow evenings at the hospital. We would take turns suggesting actors for the role of Jaimie from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t thought about who should play that role in ages. Any suggestions?