We’ve all been through it – a favourite short or novel is turned into a TV series or Movie. We love the plot and we have our favourite characters in it – we might even picture them in our minds as we read.
Then we see the finished product and we think, “Who the hell is THAT? ”
So just for a bit of fun, here are a few character descriptions from books and the actors who ended up playing them…for better or worse.
- A white male described as being 6 feet 5 inches and between 210–250 pounds with a mighty 50-inch chest known for his size, brute strength and physicality. The character was allegedly based on England Rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio.
- A white male, in his forties, fat and balding, short-sighted so wearing glasses. short-and prone to heavy drinking to the point of blacking out.
- “(His) jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down–from high flat temples–in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.”
- Across the novels, the central character’s physical details have remained consistent – a white male of slim build; he has a thin scar, three inches in length which runs across his right cheek. He’s got blue-grey eyes and is described as having a “cruel” mouth. His hair is black and kept short – a comma of it falls on his forehead almost like a Superman kiss-curl.
- A man with ‘bombardier eyes’ (try casting for that), old long tall and ugly – as described by one of the other characters, he has facial features described as ‘rough’ – although one character compares him to a ‘tired poet’, with light blue eyes, and hair which is gray or white with a little of it remaining black. Unusually tall from an early age he is, as an adult roughly 6’3″.
Well, that’ll do for a start. Feel free to drop a line with your strangest casting choices…I didn’t even mention Lawrence Block’s character Bernie Rhodenbarr – the gentleman burglar of underdetermined, but I always figured early middle-aged, white, dashing (given the number of women he attracts), educated white man who was potentially going to be played by Bruce Willis (ok, a stretch from my mind’s eye picture but possible) and eventually became Whoopi Goldberg in the dismal film ‘Burglar’…or, that ‘not beautiful (her words), fat, frumpy 30-something alcoholic girl on the train who became Emily Blunt…
And the results…
- An easy one to begin with…Jack Reacher – portrayed by Tom Cruise Size was not the main issue for choosing Reacher, according to Lee Child: and boy was he adamant about it. It was the ability to walk into a room and have everyone feel a little nervous. Then the two movies starring TC did less business than anyone expected or hoped for and suddenly it WAS all about the size. Not the expectation of cash from casting a Hollywood star. Not at all.
- Norman Bates – portrayed by…well, take your pick: Anthony Perkins, Vince Vaughan, or Freddie Highmore.
Whichever one you go for (and we all know there’s only really one), some difference from Bloch’s original, non?
3. Sam Spade – Another character played by multiple actors but most well known for Humphrey Bogart.
Yeah, we can probably go for that one a bit easier…
4. Bond- James Bond – as long as you don’t follow the theory that Bond is a code name rather than a specific man (and Flemming’s books clearly think not). As for the movie version…well, take your pick as to which one got it right…
5. Another one that drew controversy and inadvertently linked to number four- the character is Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. The fans expected a younger Clint Eastwood. They got Idris Elba.