If your answer is Marcellus Wallace, it’s because you heard these three attributes before you even saw him.
Last week, the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s adaption of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby hit the interweb. I am still skeptical of Luhrmann after Australia (Can you blame me?) but Sheena is outrageously excited. “The great Gatsby isn’t really big on plot or action, but it’s a very visual book. And if the wildly exhilarating Moulin Rouge is any indication, Luhrmann is pretty big on flamboyant visual imagery. And Leonardo DiCaprio is a good choice for Gatsby,” she says.
Last week, a friend of mine described what he imagined the characters of The Hunger Games were like and pretty much got everything wrong according to the movie. “Rue looks like that girl from Hugo or like Knives from Scott Pilgrim. Cinna looks like Stephen Fry.”
Most writers don’t describe too many physical attributes of a character. Vague descriptions like, tall, long fingers, round eyes or something. Never enough to visualize an entire person. For years, Hermoine Granger was just an unformed body of vapour with buckteeth and bushy hair.
Sometimes the description doesn’t come with the introduction of the character. You’ve already followed John into depths of his adventure and now, 300 pages in, he is making love with soon-to-be Mrs Doe, you realize he has long arms, a dimple and is redheaded. And you were imagining a skinny midget with cankles.
Sometimes a name is enough to conjure up an image and no amount of detail will change it. Imagination is a wonderful thing. But everyone’s head works differently.
But then the movies happened. Making an absolute mess of your mind’s eye.
With adaptations, characters are in front of you, in the flesh. It sparks debate; “Will Andrew Garfield make a good spiderman?” “Sirius Black should have been like Morpheus big, bald and badass” and the usual, “I don’t care, the book is infinitely better.”
I have no problems with film adaptions. In fact, if it’s done well, it packs dense but good literature into a manageable matinee sized bite. But when movies release while you are still reading a series, it will ruin the book and that’s the plain truth. The actors faces get jammed into your head, without your permission. I can’t read Sherlock Holmes any more without both Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch zooming in and out of my head. Strangely, Jude Law is never Watson. Never.
While this is part rant and part observation, Here’s what I want to know. What do you consider the worst casting in a movie? Which character complete baffled you? It’s a bit premature, but for me, it just might be Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi.