How the Oscars Got Me Wondering Whether Playing Everyone's Favourite Game Will Give You Cancer

No, I'm not talking about when a boy and girl put their naked parts together, nor am I talking about that game where you are symbolised as a shoe or a thimble and go around and buy property. No, I am talking about the game where you choose actors to portray the mental image of a picture in your head - also known as Celebrity Cheek (because I have heard people pick actors for nearly every feature but their rear ends).

Yeah, I actually sat myself down with my homework in front of me and sat through the how ever many torturous hours of the 83rd Academy Awards. And yes, seeing Melissa Leo drop the f-bomb and James Franco in drag - not to mention his granny say "Marky Mark" - made it worth it. But seeing all of these men that I've continually drooled over, and the ones that I just think are amazing, as well as those women who are so pretty I wish they'd trip, it made me wonder: to what extent should authors match familiar faces to their characters?

I'm not frowning and nay-saying at this - I mean, hell!, I even do it - but just think about it. It's awesome to name George Clooney as the perfect face for your MC, and usually, we are quite apt at watching films and stopping it halfway through because "OMG, that guy looks exactly like my MC's arch nemesis from high school! Must. Search. IMDB." (Come on, I know you do it.) There is nothing wrong with that - in fact, there are always reasons to do it that are extremely beneficial to our writerly processes.

However, what do you say to writers who base characters entirely on celebrities? There are a bucketload and a half of actors whom I adore, who would never fit into any of the characters in any of my novels. I would die of happiness if I could use Ralph or Joe Fiennes, Robert Sean Leonard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey, Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow or even Sean Ashmore - but I can't. So I wouldn't consider changing one of my MCs to suit the kind of role one of these actors would take, or even what one of these actors look like. After seeing The Social Network, for example, would you sit down and create a character (and I'm not talking extra, or minor minor character, I'm talking prominent reoccurring character) based entirely on Andrew Garfield? Looks, personality, even speech?

I'm unsure of whether this has come out coherently or whether most of you have given up already and resorted to skimming - I apologise. (*is still watching the Oscars*)

Here is where I shamelessly plug the blogfest Now Starring... over at Rapturous Randomocity and tell you all to pull together your movie buff brains and churn out some headshot pictures, via Google Images.

So, feel free to throw in your 2 cents below. Do you cast your characters? Do you think people should? Or, what are the boundaries before an author goes too far?


Trisha at: February 28, 2011 at 7:38 PM said...

I can't find anybody out there who looks like my MMC - he's just unique in my head ;) I do think that Ashley Greene is a good match for one of my FCs, but generally I have clearer pictures in my own head of what they look like, than any photo can give.

Happily Cheesy at: March 1, 2011 at 6:50 AM said...

When I'm developing a new character I often go scouring the web for look alikes. (Then paste them in my document.) No one ever fully fits the bill. As far as personality goes, same story.

Kerri Cuev at: March 2, 2011 at 1:21 AM said...

My characters just pop into my head. It would be fun to sit down with a sceth artist because I can never find look alikes for them.

Kerri Cuev at: March 2, 2011 at 1:22 AM said...

*sketch ;)type to darn fast lol

Madeline Bartos at: March 2, 2011 at 2:04 PM said...

My characters are usually generally just based on people I've met (not close friends or anything) or admire, but they often take on their own shape to match their personality. It makes me wish I could draw. I wouldn't want to base my character on a celebrity though. What's the fun in plastic perfection? ;)

Elizabeth Mueller at: March 3, 2011 at 2:39 PM said...

Hi! Well, I don't cast my characters. They are all originals straight from my psychotic writer's brain. They are born running, there's no slow birthing process. :)

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

tangynt at: March 4, 2011 at 6:14 AM said...

I cast my characters all the time. With actors, random photographs from stock sites, even hand drawn stuff. It's funny, because my "real" characters turn out to be cartoons sometimes. I honestly never find anyone that looks EXACTLY like any of my characters, but some come pretty darn close.

Donea Lee at: March 4, 2011 at 9:14 AM said...

Honestly, I can't think of any that would make a perfect fit. Perhaps, that's a good thing? :) New follower and fellow crusader here just (finally) making the rounds. Happy Thursday!

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