Bookish Discussion · Books

Discussion: Character Descriptions and Casting Actors as Characters


I used to LOVE reading books on Wattpad, and something that struck me on the site was the ‘Cast’ feature where the author of the story assigned a cast of models and actors as the characters in the books. This got me thinking, while writing the book, did the author picture such and such actors to be their characters? Did other readers picture the characters as the actors mentioned in the ‘cast’?

All good books have sufficient descriptions of characters to help the reader form a mind picture. However, it never occurred to me that a lot of readers picture specific people for certain characters. Whenever I read a character description, I can picture them in my mind, but for some reason, where there faces should be, I just see blobs. If a book has a movie counterpart, I can picture the actors from the movie as the characters in the book, as in the case of Harry Potter, but otherwise, I am terrible at picturing characters. I tend to brush over the character descriptions and imagine them how I want them to be.

When The Fault in Our Stars movie released, a lot of people were upset that Isaac had black hair instead of blond, but I didn’t even remember that, so it didn’t affect my movie watching experience at all (I still hated the movie, but it had nothing to do with Nat Wolff’s hair). It was so weird to think that so many people felt so strongly about something that I hadn’t even noticed!

Even when the main character is of a different ethnicity or a person of colour, unless their race contributes to the story in some way, it doesn’t affect my perception of the story. Of course I appreciate the diversity that the author incorporates into the story, but while imagining the character in my brain, they are usually how I picture them to be, instead of them being whatever race they are. Since I am Indian, when I was younger I pictured all the characters in books to look like people I know, so in my mind, a lot of foreign characters looked Indian. I know, that’s really weird.

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Anyway, coming back to the main point – do you actually picture real people as the characters in books? Do you picture people of different races while reading?  I’m really interested to know.



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