The Dangers of Casting Your Movie in Your Head

A couple of nights ago, The Sis and I were randomly discussing the actors I would like to see cast in my first screenplay, Fate(s).  You can click the link for a quick overview.  It really is brief.  This story has a personal history, the male lead and some of the story are inspired by my own life, so deciding who should play “him” is a little hard to narrow down.  This is of course fine, because in reality, when this film is made, who I imagine or hope for will of course not be the actor chosen.

RosamundPikeSo there we were, imagining all the people who would fill these roles, when I started to laugh.  What if the powers-that-be decide they want Jennifer Lawrence for the lead when I envision Rosamund Pike.   Huge difference.  This would in turn change the whole perspective of the film.  It goes from adult to YA.

Fate(s) involves a great deal of Greek mythology, and the character of Ares, in particular, is based on the Ares from the television show Hercules.  I loved him.  Kevin Smith played the role wonderfully, and to have someone fill his shoes, yAresou need the snark of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki with the looks of a Joe Manganiello or Jason Momoa.

Do you see the slippery slope I am on?

In my head I know what the characters look like, in general.  I have some more specifically envisioned than others, but my fear is that where I am looking for women and men (and I mean “women” and “men”), I will suddenly have a teenage rom-com where the role of Ares is played by Zac Efron.  Super adorable.  Wrong.  So wrong.

It is one of the first lessons you learn in your film school screenwriting class.  Don’t cast your film.  I’ve been told it’s good to have an idea of a few actors you’d like to see in choice roles, to give the execs an idea of your “vision”, but it’s all a matter of chance and fate.  See what I did there?  Who has an available schedule?  Who’s even interested?  So many little things that may hinder the right choice.  Although, sometimes a different (let’s not say wrong) choice really comes out on top.

Tom Selleck was originally cast to play Indiana Jones.  Eric Stoltz was cast to be Marty McFly and actually shot quite a lot of footage.  Thinking back, can we think of anyone else who could’ve filled those roles better than Harrison Ford and Michael J. Fox?

So we cast my entire film, although I’m still uncertain about a few choices, then recast it according to the actors that would most likely prevail.  Obviously, I want to be a part of the Hollywood system, but when put into this perspective, I had to cringe, laugh, and try not to cry.  We’re pretty sure Meryl Streep will be Hera, in any casting choice, because as it was once stated on Modern Family, “she could play Batman and be the right choice”.

It was a fun exercise, but not one I’ll be repeating again any time soon if I can help it.  It was just a little too real and painful.

How about you, my fellow creatives?  Do you cast your stories?  Does it help or hinder your vision?