Sunday, February 17, 2013

Faces from Page to Screen and Back Again

We all do it, don't we? We read a book, and through the author's guidance and our own imaginations, we see the characters. Our minds paint us a clear image of what each main player in the plot looks like. For me, though, rarely does the picture in my mind match any actor or actress. At least, not at the beginning.

Take, for example, the Twilight series:

Leaving aside any judgment of whether the book was 'better' than the movie or vice versa, and despite the fact that Robert Pattinson can indeed be handsome and charming, he's not Edward to me. That is to say, he's not the image my mind holds of Edward. In my mind, Edward is not so much taller than Bella, a bit more fair-haired than RPattz, with not such a square jaw. Despite five films and endless photos, RPattz will never be my Edward. Should I go back and reread the books, his face will not fill my mind.

For Hunger Games, I have a bit of a different reaction. 

Jennifer Lawrence came close enough to my image of Katniss - whether it was the costuming or the hair or the makeup, her face was in easy agreement with my mental picture. As Peeta (once he went blond), Josh Hutcherson is spooky accurate to my impression of Bread Boy. Spooky. It's like the casting director was reading my mind. So when I go back and re-read Suzanne Collins's novels, I will easily envision Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Not Liam Hemsworth, though. The Gale of my imagination is slimmer, more cat-like, ever so slightly darker skinned. Liam Hemsworth, is not my Gale. He'll have to fill my mind for other reasons : )

And then, there is...

Alan Rickman's portrayal of Professor Snape from the Harry Potter books. Truly I cannot recall the face my imagination first painted for Snape. So thoroughly and magically has he embodied the character that in reading J.K. Rowlings work, I see Rickman as Snape so clearly he eclipses any other lingering impressions I might be harboring. And I think that's kind of awesome.

With these thoughts in mind, I'm looking ahead with

Lily Collins as Clary (City of Bones)

and Shailene Woodly as Tris (Divergent)

Will they match the image in my mind? Will they be so far removed I'll hold on to my initial vision? Or will they fill the role so completely I can picture no one else?

How about you? Has the casting of recent books-to-movies matched or conflicted with how you saw the character? Or have you been Snaped by any of them?

~ Jen


Melissa Landers said...

This was a fun post, Jen. And I wholeheartedly agree with it comes to Snape. Never before has an actor so flawlessly captured a fictional character. The man *is* Severus Snape.

Kimberly said...

I agree with Melissa. This was so fun! I agree with you on most points. Originally I couldn't picture Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. I pictured Katniss smaller, catlike with more olive skin tone. She wasn't right on the mark for me, but I enjoyed the movie.
And I completely, COMPLETELY agree about Edward. Although I like Robert Pattinson well enough, he will NEVER be Edward. I pictured him way more take-my-breath-away good looking and more cultured and more gentlemanly. And the fact that there was no mention of Edward not naturally moving his lips when he talked. That was quite annoying.
It's fun to watch the movie from books with my kids. It gives us something to talk about, something to discuss and debate.
My kids that read the Lightning Thief were extremely disappointed, but I haven't read that series or watched the movie, so I couldn't wow them with my deep thoughts. LOL.
Thanks for a fun post on a windy, cold Monday morning.

Lorie Langdon said...

I'm in agreement about Rob Patt as Edward. He was so off base for me that when watching the movies I was converted from Team Edward to Team Jacob! But I know plenty of fans who would adamantly disagree with me.

I had an odd experience with the Harry Potter movies because I saw the first movie before I read any of the books, so "most" of the characters stuck in my mind as the actors...but not Harry. Harry was so much less wimpy in my head. ;)

I'm going to turn into a complete fan-girl when City of Bones comes out...might even have to catch the midnight showing. :D

Awesome post, Jenn!

Kristi Cook said...

Totally with you on Snape!!! He just IS Snape. 100%
I'm actually okay with RPattz--I don't think I ever had a strong visual of Edward in my head, so he was able to slip right in for me.

But Josh Hutcherson as Peeta?! OMG, *exactly* like I imagined him in my head (and I *did* have a very strong visual image of him!). Hemsworth pretty much fits my Gale, too.

Stephanie said...

What a fun post!

I had no clear picture of Edward in my head when I first read. He was always very vague. And when I first saw Rob, I did not like him for Edward. His jaw was too square, his hands too long and thin. But that Brit grew on me (in his cleaned up, less spastic moments) and now, whether I read the originals or, more likely, fanfic, Rob IS Edward. Young, old, doesn't matter. Most of my friends don't like him though. Oh and I can't picture anyone besides Jackson as Jasper (but without the stinking ridiculous wigs). Though the Jasper in my head is way taller than real life Jackson (who isn't much taller than me and I'm short.)

Loved Lawrence as Katniss, she really nailed it. I agree that Hutcherson looks much like I pictured Peeta. I didn't have a clear idea of Gale and Liam Hemsworth fits the bill just fine for me.

Like Lorie commented, I saw the first Potter movie before reading the books since we were past the target demographic. So reading the books, I have ALWAYS seen Rickman as Snape. And I always hear the original Dumbledore's voice in my head. And Maggy Smith for McGonagall couldn't have been more perfect.

One I'm looking forward to, but at this point, not thrilled with the casting is The Host. I have a very strong picture in my head of Jared and Ian (especially Ian) and Kyle and Wanda/Melanie. Saoirse seems like she might do okay, but I am not happy with the casting for the guys. However, William Hurt as Jeb is fabulous.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

haha! nice to see I'm not the only one who will forever see Rickman's face when Snape is mentioned : )

Kim, I did read Lightning Thief but didn't see the film. I'll have to check that out. And Stephanie - I totally forgot they're making a movie of The Host! I loved that book. Off to go eyeball the casting choices and see if they agree or conflict with my imagination. woo!

JQ said...

This is a fun post. For the Twilight movies, not a single actor worked for what I had in mind, either. Hunger Games was way more on course for what I thought. I pictured Katniss with more of a olive/tan complexion, but otherwise her and Peeta were spot on. I didn't think of Liam for Gale, but I think it works. I am, however, sourly disappointed in who they cast for Finn. Have you seen him? He looks nothing like the golden haired, self-assured, sexy boy I had in mind.

Pintip said...

What a great post, Jen! I'll third or fourth the agreement on Snape. To be honest, I don't picture characters' faces too much when I'm reading, but when I watch the movie, it just either fits or doesn't fit (and I pretty much agree with all your assessments)! Didn't realize Divergent was going to be a movie. That's exciting! Have a great day!

Jennifer McAndrews said...

@JQ, I had to go look and I'm with you on the Finnick issue. On the surface, he "matches" my image - the right coloring / hair and eyes. But there's something in the way the actor holds himself that isn't Finn. Perhaps as you said, not self-assured enough. Ah, well. Perhaps his performance will win me over.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

@Pintip, you make an interesting point about movie casting plain fitting not fitting. I wonder if it's the author's choices that influence that, and influence whether we have a clear image of the character or not. Some authors draw their characters very precisely, others give just a vague sketch. I sense more reading and movie viewing is in order...all for research, of course!

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