Who should play this character?
There is a “book club” supplement in the novel I read recently (The Black Hand, Will Thomas). A few questions intended to spark discussions. One of the questions: “If this was made into a film, who would you cast as the characters?" Interesting, and one I sporadically contemplate when reading a book for the 2nd time.
One of my favorite authors in the past couple years has been Martin Cruz Smith. (Why do people insist in using all 3 names? What would be wrong with simply Martin Smith? I don’t recall ever seeing another author by that name. Sharon Kay Penmann? Lois McMaster Bujold? ... anyway ...)
Smith wrote Gorky Park, and several sequels. Arkady Renko is central, yet never deeply described physically beyond tall, thin, serious, pale and black haired. Who would I cast? I saw a chacter in The Bourne Supremacy and - pop - I thought, that’s who I would cast. Given the actor, Karl Urban, is a Kiwi I would likely not have contemplated it, other than that he was playing a Russian cop in Bourne. Tall, slender, black hair, pale skin and about the right age for the initial books.
William Hurt played the character in the '80s movie, which I just don't see. But, how much of the character's description influences our perception of the character as a person? The Black Hand has a central character, Thomas Llewelyn, who is repeatedly described as being short. The description actually reminds me heavily of my friend Calum, who matches it fairly well.
Sometimes one changes the character’s sex between source material & movie. Either specifically or generally. The Bourne Identity had a female assistant (Julia Stiles): if the character was in the book (I don't recall), it would assuredly have been a man. Ditto Bourne Supremacy (I never read) with Joan Allen. Ludlum in 1970 simply wouldn’t have made a Deputy Director of the CIA a woman. Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream as a man or woman? Would that choice effect the interpretation?
Sometimes casting one character can force other casting. A production of The Marriage of Figaro at MSU had Figaro played by a black man. Should that influence the rest of the cast’s color? This particularly intrigues me. Watching the Bourne movies (1st & 2nd) this week, I wonder why the entire cast is white. What difference would it have made to have at least the extras be black, brown, purple, whatever...? I’ve never been to Moscow, but Berlin is certainly not monochromatic these days. Even if one only considers the Turks.
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