Casting your Characters

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Do various actors ever pop into your mind when working on a story? Do you ever think, “Oh man! Hugh Jackman would be perfect as my character”?

I took a class on modern theatre a year ago. For our final project, we had to read a play and then cast it, design costumes, etc.

I read Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman. We cast David Tennant as Katurian, Sean Bean as Ariel, Michael Fairman as Tupolski, and Edward Norton as Michel (solely because we couldn’t think of anyone else).

Ever since that course, I’ve been thinking about who looks like my characters, or at least could pull them off. I haven’t been able to pinpoint anyone as Will, yet. But I’ve noticed that I rarely watch movies/TV shows with characters in their late teens-early twenties, so that may be part of the problem. Having just rewatched Dead Poets Society, I’m thinking a young Robert Sean Leonard or a young Ethan Hawke. They look completely different, but Will’s coloring is closer to Ethan’s.

For other characters, it’s a little easier. In my mind, Geoffrey looks like Peter Wingfield (a semi-underground actor who’s in mostly sci-fi stuff, but was in this season of 24).

But what about you all? Does anyone else do this?

8 thoughts on “Casting your Characters

  1. Hmmm… It’s very good idea! I don’t create my own characters, but when reading books, images of characters are very dim. I even pass description of hero appearance.

    And if I read book after watching film on this book, I get images of heroes from that film. For example that was with “Lord of the Rings”. And when I read Dickens’s “Great Expectations” after watching South Park about Pip, in my mind heroes was painted like in multiplication. So for me reading “Great Expectations” was very fun. 🙂


  2. I sometimes have difficulty picturing characters in my mind. For “Lord of the Rings,” the actors are the characters for me, too. Except Orlando Bloom as Legolas.

    I haven’t read “Great Expectations” yet…but now I think that the characters will look like they’re from South Park and at least one will sound like Cartman!


  3. Beth, are you on AW at all?

    I can’t say I cast my characters, however, there is one possible exception. A minor character who’s grown in importance and who I need to buff up in the earlier part of the draft to reflect this.

    Coincidentally he’s turning out to be an actor who turned up randomly in a dream I had which pertained to the manuscript.

    That said, I was browsing the internet a while ago and came across a picture that made me gasp. The girl was one of my lead protagonists. It was amazing. In the eyes of my male protagonist.

    I’ve heard of other authors casting people, but very often it’s not actors but someone they’ve seen on the street and snapped up in a photo. Someone who’d never know that their physical appearance (or gait, or whatever) would inspire the shape of a fictional character in progress.



  4. I’ve had a couple of instances when random people on the street will look like characters, crazily down to their hobbies! Once in Edinburgh, I saw a man playing a violin who looked exactly like a violinist I was writing about.

    Random question, but what is AW? I haven’t heard of it.


  5. Oh, definitely check it out:

    Great site. Especially its forum with lots of really informative threads, conversations, aspiring writers, published writers. I learnt a lot there…and continue to learn from it.

    Let me know if you go. I really recommend it if you’re looking to hone your craft. 🙂


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