Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Casting a franchise: Why I believe TMI is doing it right.

So, I'll apologize in advance, for this post may be a little rambly... but these are things I've been pondering since the first second I found out TMI was going to be a movie. Just stick with me...I really do have some good points. ;)

 I was getting my (very late) start on my next Actor's Spotlight piece, which was Lena Heady, and I started really thinking about Lena. What she's done in her career, my personal opinion of Jocelyn, and why I thought she might do a good job.  It lead me something that I, as a fan, and more importantly as a book reader, found essential in the portrayal of Jocelyn-how she looks. I don't mean in the shallow way of "Is she gorgeous?" or even in the way many have criticized Jamie's appearance (more on that later).  I was thinking specifically of how she looked in comparison to Lily.  The more I researched Lena and Lily, and even Jonathan, the more I thought about book to movie adaptation, and franchises.

Let's go back to the beginning.

1994.  Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire was released as a movie starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.  I had been reading a lot of Stephen King and just transitioned into reading Anne Rice.  I was so excited to see there was going to be a movie adaptation, and who didn't love Brad Pitt? Remember, this is before internet, IMDb, Facebook, Twitter.  We as fans knew very little about the movie.  In the end I was "that person" screaming at the screen in the theater. I was 14 and absolutely furious that they had changed the plot from the book.  But as far as the look of the characters, it just was what it was.  Fans didn't really have input in those things.

Perhaps this is where my uncertainty regarding book to movie adaptations sprung from. Now we have the internet, and every one has an opinion. If you have ever really paid attention to Cassie's wisdom on Tumblr posts regarding casting, she has a very good understanding.  She used the example with Harry Potter.

Most of you may be to young to remember, but it was a HUGE deal when Daniel Radcliffe was cast.  Poor little dude was ten years old, but was heavily scrutinized because he had blue eyes...and could not tolerate contacts.  As you all know, in HP his green eyes are mentioned quite often.  They were his mother's eyes (which on a side note: skip if you haven't seen HP7, young Lily had brown eyes. Still drives me INSANE, especially since Snape is talking about him having HER EYES.  I digress.) This complaint from the fandom was solidly based in the text and based on a very important and emphasized point in the text. 

While I get it, I still believe Dan is Harry, and no one could have done it better. I had even heard that some complained poor little Emma Watson wasn't "ugly enough."  What was saddest to me was they were kids. In the end, they were all perfect. *sniff*

This brings me to my next fandom.  Twilight.

Now this of course is completely based on perceptions from readers...everyone visualizes characters differently while reading.   For me the visualization just depends on the detail the author gives.  When it came to Twilight, Stephenie Meyer wrote Bella as an "any girl" that you could imagine yourself as (though I did not).  Edward was difficult for me.  I didn't have an image of him at all.  There was so much controversy when Twilight was cast.  Fans hated, and I mean HATED Robert Pattinson.  There were petitions to have Edward recast.  Ashley Greene was considered "too tall" (I have to agree a little here. Alice is described as a pixie way too many times to be as tall as she was). Also keep in mind that although actors of Native American descent were hired as the wolf pack, Taylor Lautner is more tan than he is Native American, but at least he wasn't completely whitewashed.  Any one who is a Twilight fan knows fandom displeasure has gone on during each movie (hello, wigs?), but I still know so many fans who love "Originalward" the best.

This next one is more recent, and may ruffle some feathers, but hear me out.

Ah, The Hunger Games. Some of my displeasure with THG casting is probably why I was even more grateful for Cassie's article on whitewashing in Hollywood.  Once again, HG was not a book where I didn't have mental images per say, but Suzanne Collins pounds to you the "look" of the people in the seam.  Olive skin, dark hair, gray eyes (I read HG when my daughter was 3 months old and used to always say she was from the seam because she had olive skin, gray eyes, and dark hair).  When Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth were announced as Katniss and Gale my head literally exploded.  Don't get me wrong, though I am not the biggest Jennifer Lawrence fan, she was a good Katniss, once she was made up.  But why cast a blonde haired blue eyed person for a seemingly sounding ethnic role?  And don't get me started on the outcry of African American/Danish actress Amandla Stenberg as Rue. Nothing is more infuriating than fans complaining "why is she black?" when I am dying to scream "You read the book, right?" But all in all, Lionsgate did a great job with casting. Haymitch is still my favorite.

So, finally we are back to where I started.

When I first heard that Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower were cast as Clary and Jace, I'll admit I was like, "Say what?"  I never had a clear mental image of either while reading the books (or any of the characters for that matter-well except Simon, but we'll broach that later).   Lily just wasn't my Clary, but I was always willing to be open to her, especially given her excitement at the roll.  Now that I've seen her on set with her red hair I like her even more.

What sealed the deal with Jamie for me was Cassie's tumblr post.  When she said she cried watching his audition I was sold.  He just WAS Jace.  Jace for me was the whole character...everything that made Jace Jace.  I wasn't concerned with just a pretty face.  In fact I was TERRIFIED of just a pretty face.  Cassie had even reiterated that Jace is described as having a swimmers build, which Jamie fits well.  In the end this is Cassie's baby, and for me if Jamie is her Jace then he is my Jace as well.

The only thing that has sort of surprised me thus far has been the number of European actors, but it is no way a deal breaker.  Idris is in Europe anyways.  I am very curious to see what is done with accents, especially Jamie and Jonathan.(An aside here... @TIDProblems pointed out on twitter the hilarity that Valentine was being played by someone named Jonathan.  I can't stop giggling when I think about it.)

Onto Kevin Zegers, aka Alec.  Now, I don't have any prior knowledge of Kevin's skills as an actor.  I was with everyone else, stuck in the Alec casting curiosity. I was certain it was going to be Ed Westwick.  I'll admit now that I am a HUGE Ed Westwick fan. I was so in love with the idea of having Ed, although I'll admit I did picture him as my Will Herondale.  And now I'll admit he would make one good Sebastian. I was always a little uneasy about Ed to be honest.  I wasn't sure if Alec was the right role for him in the shadowhunter universe, and when I saw Jemima that feeling increased.  When I saw the first pictures of Kevin I knew I was right.  His look just seemed to fit better for me.  Overall I think he just fits.

Jemima West is sort of the same for me.  I had no mental pictures of Izzy, and when I saw her I said, okay, I can see it.  She and Kevin look like they could be siblings.  What remains to be seen is that Izzy attitude. Though, as Satin reminded me, Cassie mentioned that most of the actress tried to play Izzy as a bitch, where Jemima was able to show that vulnerable side.

Oh Simon....I mean Robert. lol I knew nothing of Robert Sheenan.  He was my victim of mental fan casting. Some one planted that Logan Lerman seed and that was all she wrote.  But now that I see Robbie on set with Lily he looks like Simon.  I don't know if Logan was ever an appropriate vision of what Simon should be, though, as I am FULLY AWARE (and always have been) he, Logan, is a Jewish actor.  Most importantly I think are the reports of his auditions with Lily and Jamie.  The chemistry between the three of the really is most important.

 Magnus, Magnus, Magnus.  Amazing how important Magnus became in casting.  I once again have to commend Cassie's brilliant post on whitewashing and Magnus.  I am so very proud of her as a fan that she really stood her ground with Magnus being Asian, or at least half Asian.  And for the fellow actors coming out in support of Godfrey Gao's casting.  This really could be a very big and important step for Asian actors, and I think the crowning jewel of this casting process.  Fans who murmur "why does it matter if he is Asian?" should definitely spend more time with their copies of the books. It is who Magnus is, and it shapes his character.

Honestly, when I started this I had no plans to break down each of our actors. This progression sort of happened on its own.  So let me get back to what I feel the casting directors really got right.

When I decided to write about Lena, and I was looking at her carefully, I decided what I really needed was a side by side of her and Lily.  When I heard actresses names being thrown around after Lily was cast I became concerned.  Why you say? Much like Harry Potter, how many times do people remark how much Clary "looks like her mother."  As much as I liked some of the actresses mentioned they looked nothing like Lily.  I personally felt this was important.  When I saw Lena I was like okay, this is good. It wasn't until I did this that I heard angels sing (and was inspired to do this whole post).

I mean WOW! Then I was amazed no one had really done this before (or at least that I had seen).  Since Jocelyn had been absent for so long, seeing a young Clary, who looked just like her mother, was an experience for so many characters.  Plus, it removed a lot of the doubt that could have come upon Clary in proving she was of Shadowhunter descent.   So then I really got to thinking, surely though Clary looks like her mother, she'd somewhat favor her father, right?

 JUST LOOK AT THIS PEOPLE! lol Seriously, I was FLOORED when I made this.  Not only were talented people cast, but it really appears as if the time and effort was made to find the perfect actors as her parents!  Jocelyn's eyes and structure, Valentine's lips.  In my opinion, this really ups the bar for when Sebastian is cast.

This attention to detail, whether intentional or not, and everything I've mentioned before really just cements for me why I think TMI is really doing it right.  These actors may not have been fan choices, but I really think they are the right choice. I could almost call fan casting these days a disease.  It is so easy to picture someone you've seen before while reading a book, and especially with the rate of book to movie adaptations.  But I think fan casting hurts our beloved books and can squash some of the movie's potential.  If you have a studio that is trying way too hard to please the masses, you can end up with some fatal casting errors, and that perfect character missed.

Take a good look folks, because before you know it you won't remember how you imagined someone else as your characters.

So, I am dying to know what you think! Please please, comment and let me know! Do you think they've gotten it right so far?  Do you think too much fan casting hurts?  How does TMI hold up so far to prior franchise adaptations?

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the time and thought you have put in this article. I truly agree with the your point that fan casting hurts the movie and fandom. I love the casting and have no doubt the they were picked not only for their looks, but also for their acting. My one concern, which keeps me from saying it is a perfect cast is Jemima as Izzy. She is supposed to be taller than Clary (eg. Izzy's shirt fits Clary like a dress.) It is not a deal breaker for me, though. Can't wait for the movie!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...