The Problem With Hollywood Casting a Novel

November 24, 2015 § Leave a comment


What would you tell me if I asked you, “What does Katniss Everdeen look like?” Chances are, Jennifer Lawrence pops into your head. Maybe you haven’t yet read Girl on the Train yet, but the alcoholic Rachel morphed into Emily Blunt for you the moment that casting was announced.  These days film rights are being snatched up at the first sign of any novel’s success, and suddenly characters that sprang from the head of the author are Hollywood cast before we get the chance to consider what they look like ourselves. Should we rejoice, or hide behind our books?

Peter Mendelsund, author of What We See When We Read, warns that having book characters permanently cast in our mind is a hazardous act. He suggests that our perspectives as readers are infected when we flip through our minds like a copy of US Weekly until we find the perfect heroine. As a fangirl, I was immediately taken aback by this suggestion. What was so wrong with adding Meryl Streep to spice up a boring narrative or Viola Davis to survive a lit class?

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