By Jenny Bullough, Manager of Digital Content, avid reader and pop culture omnivore
When you read a book do you ever cast the characters in your mind’s eye? Maybe it’s because I love movies and TV almost as much as I love books, but when I read, I can’t help but imagine the hero and heroine as portrayed by celebrities and actors, casting the book as if it were a film, to enliven the scenes as they play out in my imagination. Maybe it’s my immersion in pop culture but I have trouble picturing generic people, even if they’re very vividly described, unless they’re depicted on the cover. So as a kind of shorthand I sometimes end up thinking of a certain actor as a character.
Funnily enough, it has as much to do with personality as looks. Recently while reading a steampunk Western I immediately thought of Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) as the hero; not just because he has the tough yet vulnerable face the hero needed to become real in my imagination, but because his character in The Hurt Locker had a tough outer shell masking his inner loneliness, just as the hero was written in the book. The heroine I cast as Joan Holloway on Mad Men as portrayed by Christina Hendricks, because she has both the lush figure and, as Joan, the no-nonsense manner the heroine displayed on the page.
I once worked with an author who would actually send me magazine photos of the celebs she felt closely matched – or even inspired! – her main characters. We would end up having discussions related to character development that sounded more like a Hollywood producer and casting agent: “I see this heroine as more Kate Winslet than Kate Beckinsale, and the hero is totally Rupert Everett not Daniel Craig!”Oddly, it helped us both through the editing process.
So tell me, am I alone in this obsession? Do you ever mentally cast actors in the roles of characters as you read or write? Let us know in the comments!