Casting Director

Posted by: Kay

Casting Director - 03/27/00 06:12 PM

Mention of "The Renewable Virgin" elsewhere started me wondering:

Barbara, have you ever had an actor or actress in mind when you create a character?

I sort of saw Sharon Stone as Kelly in RV....and, probably because she did a creditable job as a female law officer, I can see Frances McDormand as Marian.

I am pretty sure Peters never pictured Cadfael as being anything like Jacobi, wonderful as he is....nor did Dexter visualize anybody like John Thaw for Morse (the TV and book characters are actually quite different in several respects).
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Casting Director - 03/28/00 10:28 AM

Strange; I've been asked that before. But no, I don't think of actors while I'm writing. The closest I ever came was with one minor character I was having trouble getting a fix on. So I found a picture in a magazine -- it was one of those ads for hair-restoration for men. I stared at that face until it was the face I saw while I was writing the character. It didn't really help much, so I never tried that again.

And I'd never even heard of Sharon Stone when I was writing The Renewable Virgin! But it's interesting that you should see Kelly as a blond.  
Posted by: Kay

Re: Casting Director - 03/28/00 04:19 PM

No, I realize that Stone is probably "post virgin" (no pun intended) and as of now maybe a bit overripe for Kelly.

Yes, I saw her as a blonde, although, perhaps you described her otherwise and I missed it.....been a while since I read the book.

But she seems (in the later books in which she appears as too minor a character for Stone to consider playing) to have "blonde" the better sense. Rather like the Loni Anderson character on "WKRP." Don't make the mistake of thinking she's dumb just because she is blonde and beautiful.

It says a lot about Marian's personal sense of self that she is able to have Kelly for a best friend, too.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Casting Director - 04/07/00 01:57 PM

I guess I first heard of Sharon Stone in 1984, when she was one of the large ensemble cast of the shortlived TV series "Bay City Blues" (and the only one whose career seemed to vanish as soon as the series did -- my usual brilliant success as a predictor! ))

Kelly is definitely a blonde for me too (unusual for me when visualizing fictional women, for some reason). I pictured her as the cool, rather classy type of standard-TV-blonde -- perhaps like Shelley Hack when she was on "Charlie's Angels" -- rather than an obvious sexpot type like Loni Anderson or Suzanne Sommers. Or from today's TV, maybe Kelli Williams of "The Practice." Someone who suggests that she might have more resources in reserve than she's showing at present (I'm not committing myself as to whether this is true in those cases, mind you).

I like the idea of Frances McDormand as Marion. It's hard to think of someoen who's reached name status without conventional attractiveness, but I think she has. Laurie Metcalf might be another (and she's played a cop too).

I'm glad to see "the casting game" revived. I wasn't able to get anyone to play with me last time I proposed it!
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Casting Director - 04/07/00 05:49 PM

I have no objection to Kelly's being a blond. It's just interesting to me that so many people read her that way.

Frances McDormand is certainly the right type to play Marian. Maybe ten years ago; she's comfortably middle-aged now. In trying to think of someone not conventionally pretty who could do the role, I was able to come up with only two names -- Amy Madigan and Ellen Barkin...neither of whom fits my admittedly fuzzy picture of Marian. But they're both good actors and could handle the role with no trouble.

I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what Laurie Metcalf looks like.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Casting Director - 04/07/00 09:25 PM

Your mentioning Amy Madigan reminded me of Lindsay Crouse (they played sisters in Places in the Heart) -- another good actor with a look that she can control at will (she seems to be trying to glam herself up a bit these days), but which can be hard and challenging when she wants.

Laurie Metcalf... I guess my Chicago roots are showing, as she is one of the original Steppenwolf Theater members, alongside John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, et al. I saw her often there in the early 80s, always looking different (she's one of the true chameleons, like Miranda Richardson) and always electrifying. Perhaps her most recognizable credit is as Roseanne's sister on her long-running sitcom -- an unexpected turn for the career of someone I thought of as a Serious Actress to take, but I'm sure it's set her up financially for life and paid for her kids' college education in advance. She's now playing sidekick to Norm MacDonald on his show Norum, which I've never watched. I see that the IMDb lists 31 credits for her -- hard to say which one you might know, though a lot of people seem to remember her big line as the cranky sister-in-law in Desperately Seeking Susan ("For God's sake, take a Valium like a normal person!").

For other Barbara Paul casting, I always saw Dr. Snooks in Your Eyelids... as Tyne Daly. I'd want Seth Green for Gus, and Jennifer Aniston as Megan. This book always seemed ready-made for the film medium to me, partly because of what Barbara describes a few pages away as its amiability. I see it as a 2-hour tvmovie, followed by a weekly hourlong series showing us the further adventures of the same characters. All filmed on location in Pittsburgh, of course.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Casting Director - 04/07/00 10:42 PM

Tyne Daly as Snooks? What a marvelous idea! (Wish I'd thought of it.)

And Lindsay Crouse is, of course, fantastic. One of my all-time favorite movies is House of Games, in spite of the gaping hole in the plot. Heck, she could even play Captain Murtaugh.  
Posted by: Ree

Re: Casting Director - 04/07/00 11:10 PM

I've just spent a few moments trying to wrap my mind around the idea of Kelly being any hair color but blonde...I can't do it. But as Jon says, a very cool classy blonde.
Posted by: Scribbler

Re: Casting Director - 04/08/00 02:24 AM

Trying to imagine Kelly as anything else but blonde.... You know, I hadn't really thought about it, but it's true that I certainly was picturing her at that end of the color scale.

I guess it is because we tend to view blondes as air-heads, and brunettes as serious types.

How about if she was a red-head? Now *there's* a middle ground for you.

About other authors visualizing: P.D. James has said that Roy Marsden isn't the sort of image she had in mind when writing Dalgliesh - although she does like him in the dramatizations. I'm with her on that - I like him in the shows, but when I'm reading the books, I'm picturing... well, Timothy Dalton.

Then, of course, there's the story of Joan Hickson and Agatha Christie. Christie saw Hickson in a stage play of Christie's, and said that Hickson was the one to play Miss Marple - 20 years before Hickson eventually did so. Now, *that* casting was perfect.

[This message has been edited by Scribbler (edited 04-08-2000).]
Posted by: Kay

Re: Casting Director - 04/09/00 07:28 PM

Hickson was perfect, Hayes was competent, Lansbury was awful (although she did manage to develop the Marple bit into Jessica Fletcher)....but when you mention "Miss Marple" most people think of......Margaret Rutherford, of course.

And how about the various Poirot screen incarnations....Suchet, Ustinov, Finney....anybody else?

[This message has been edited by Kay (edited 04-09-2000).]
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Casting Director - 04/09/00 08:07 PM

Didn't Tony Randall do Poirot once?

Suchet is the one everyone thinks of nowadays, but in my mind's eye, I always thought of him as short and slim, walking stick, spats, kid gloves and all.

Joan Hickson is the one who did the TV versions of Miss Marple, right? I thought she was perfect, too.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Casting Director - 04/09/00 10:31 PM

I was able to enjoy the Margaret Rutherford romps by pretending that was some other Miss Marple, not Agatha Christie's. For me, Joan Hickson is THE Miss Marple.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Casting Director - 04/10/00 04:41 AM

I thought Albert Finney in "Murder on the Orient Express" was the perfect Poirot. It may have looked like caricature, but Poirot was a caricature anyway (and I bet he had a whale of a time doing it). I was most disappointed when he was replaced by Peter Ustinov for the follow-ups: Ustinov never plays anyone other than Ustinov.

I agree with Scribbler about Roy Marsden and Dalgleish, though my memories of the latter are getting dim - I stopped reading P D James when it became apparent that she was suffering from the delusion that she was Dickens (not long after "Death of an Expert Witness", I think).
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Casting Director - 04/10/00 10:06 AM

Pray tell: Was I wrong about Tony Randall, or is everyone intentionally ignoring me?

All those big fat men playing Poirot. No wonder I don't like any of them.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Casting Director - 04/10/00 10:29 AM

Yes, according to the IMDB, Randall was Poirot in The Alphabet Murders (1966), with a full gamut of British character actors as supporting cast.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Casting Director - 04/10/00 11:01 AM


Ustinov never plays anyone other than Ustinov

But he does it SO well
Posted by: Scribbler

Re: Casting Director - 04/10/00 04:25 PM

I realized after looking back through posts that I made a comment that sounded like I thought Kelly was an air-head. Of course, she's not - she just gets perceived that way, which was why I was thinking blonde.

I never quite bought Hayes or Lansbury as Miss Marple. Even though I like both actresses. I think it was because they both have a certain liveliness of nature, that you just *know* these women have been married. Their personalities are just too attractive. Miss Marple (in reading) was always so primly withdrawn.

That's what Joan Hickson conveys so beautifully. That surface withdrawal so much a part of an elderly maiden lady of the period. And yet, she also displays that very knowing quality of Miss Marple.

My favorite moment of Hickson in the role - this is off the top of my head, so I can't remember which story it was - is when the police inspector, the one that doesn't like her, is talking to his undering about the village setting and has referred indirectly to Miss Marple. Something about her interfering, I think. Anyway, he's just described her as a cobra. Immediately, she comes up some stairs behind him, sees him, her blue eyes wide open, with that knowing smile, and says "Ooh. Hello, Inspector."