Posted October 6, 2010on:
Back when I was writing St. Martin’s Moon (which was a long time ago, at this point), I also happened to be watching the entire Buffy and Angel series on DVD. My new boss was a Buffy fan, and since we had a lot in common, being former philosophy majors turned computer programmers, he recommended to me that I give it a try.
I had heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since I didn’t live in a cave or anything, but I hadn’t ever seen an episode, or of Angel. It’s in some ways due a reflex I built years ago, not to do what everyone else is doing. A good one for an author, most of the time, but it does have its downside. I haven’t seen an episode of Seinfeld, either. Anyway, we got the DVDs from various coworkers and watched the entire series over what I like to call our Buffy Summer (get it?), and now we own them too.
One of my favorite characters from the two series is Wesley, along with Xander and Willow, but Wesley goes through the most tremendous character development of both shows. First he’s comic relief, then he becomes a junior hero, then something of a villain, and finally a romantic lead. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s married to Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow, and a much more interesting actress. I did watch a little of How I Met Your Mother, but it didn’t really use her abilities very much, the few episodes I saw.
So when I was writing my latest book I had these actors in my mind. Marquand, the main protag, is a man who had lost his lover to a freak accident on the Moon. He’s been on Earth for years, trying and failing to grieve properly, until he gets dragged back into service on the Moon by a werewolf attack. Naturally I thought of Wesley, i.e., Alexis Denisof, as the perfect actor to play this role. Because of this I was led to think of his wife to play one of the romantic leads opposite him. Yes, there are two, but she plays the one who’s alive. When I was writing some of the lesser characters I automatically cast Nathan Fillion in the role.
This is the first and so far only time I’ve ever thought of a character in terms of the actors I think would be best to portray them. Which is odd, considering that most of the time when I’m writing, I proceed by visualizing the events as if they were a movie. Even now I have no particular ideas for who should play Tarkas, or any of the others from my Flame in the Bowl series. It also seems I can’t really imagine the roles with any others. I have some other actors in mind for lesser characters but I didn’t have them in mind while writing so I’m more open to change for them.
Has this ever happened to you? Do you read or write with specific actors in mind for a part? How does it affect your experience of the story?