Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The ReCasting Couch - Hunger Games

I don’t know about you but when I read a book I can’t help but imagine who would play each character in the big screen version.  In fact, casting was a dream of mine and I even worked as a casting assistant in Hollywood for a year.  It turned out to be less than fun and at some times was even a little dangerous (not a story I’m putting on the internet for my old boss to find).  Casting ended up not being at all creative and instead was more about who had what connections and which actor’s agent and/or manager was persistent enough to get them at least an audition, if not a job.

The minute I started reading The Hunger Games I fell in love with it and immediately imagined who I would put in the movie if I had my way.  The actual casting of the movie, at least for three of the main characters(Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch), didn’t even come close.

Keep in mind that my list is based strictly on looks.  I’m trusting that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson gave amazing auditions.  I need to believe that they impressed everyone from author Suzanne Collins to whatever casting assistant was reading lines with them.  I'm still going to wait until the reviews are in before I see it.  I need to know that the general consensus is that they were so good that critics and fans can't imagine anyone else in those roles.

Katniss and Gale:
“I watch as Gale pulls out his knife and slices the bread.  He could be my brother.  Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes.”

Katniss is supposed to be small in stature and light for her age (weight-wise) but strong:

Naomi Scott from Terra Nova
Seychelle Gabrielle is a little too cute but she holds her own on Falling Skies
Nicola Peltz has the gray(ish eyes too)

But the clear choice when the movie's cast was being finalized (at the time of last year's Oscars ) was:
Hailee Steinfeld. Right age, right look, small and scrappy, etc., etc.
Jennifer Lawrence
Listen, she was fantastic in Winter’s Bone but she’s too old and too tall.  Part of what makes Hunger Games so awesome is that you have youth on youth violence. Maybe awesome is the wrong word.  How about...shocking?  Yes, it's shocking that this culture insists on 12-18 year old children killing each other.  Jennifer was already 20 or 21 when filming the first movie.  She’ll be 22 or 23 during the next and likely 25 or 26 for the third.  They're automatically losing some of the edge of the book with the main character's casting choice.
Well they darkened her hair at least.  She's still too tall.

Gale looks old for his age and is tall.  Other than that you have to picture that he looks just like Katniss:

Ben Barnes is who I pictured when reading the books but he's too old.

Thomas McDonnell has the right look but is not tall.
Liam Hemsworth will be fine.  He's tall and looks right.

Katniss's mother and sister, Prim:
“That’s why my mother and Prim, with their light hair and blue eyes…”

Katniss's mom will always be Robin Wright in my head
Paula Malcomson is a decent actress and she'll be fine.
I have no real opinion about the casting of Prim.  My only hesitation was that the girl they cast had one slight facial issue:
Willow Shields
But they seem to have fixed it a bit:

Haymitch Abernathy:
“a paunchy, middle-aged man” with curly dark hair:
I was desperate for Robert Downey Jr. to be Haymitch as were a lot of fans.

I just don't know about Woody.  And that wig! Yikes.

Peeta Mellark:
”Medium height, stocky build, ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead”…with blue eyes
Hunter Parrish is who I imagined as I read the books but he's another one that's too old.
Lucas Till would have been a good option

I've never been terribly impressed by Josh Hutcherson but I'm desperate to be wrong

President Snow:
“The president, a small, thin man with paper-white hair”

Donald Sutherland will be very good as President Snow.

How awesome would Ian Holm have been as the president?
And my friend Kate's awesome suggestion:
Derek Jacobi looking very Karl Lagerfeldesque

And while I’m nitpicking…
Rewatch the trailer then tell me if the beginning images of District 12 look like its description below.  Especially take note of the fence Katniss climbs through.

Now read the descriptions:
“Our part of District 12, nicknamed the Seam, is usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the morning shift at this hour.  Men and women with hunched shoulders, swollen knuckles, many who have long since stopped trying to scrub the coal dust out of their broken nails, the lines of their sunken faces.  But today the black cinder streets are empty.  Shutters on the squat gray houses are closed.”

“Separating the Meadow from the woods, in fact enclosing all of District 12, is a high chain-link fence topped with barbed-wire loops.”

“Concealed by a clump of bushes, I flatten out on my belly and slide under a two-foot stretch that’s been loose for years.”

Don't get me started on the leather jacket she's wearing that is supposed to be her dad's but fits her too well.  Then again, Lawrence is tall so maybe she and her dad had the same build?

Other than that, I'm pretty excited to see the movie.  Can you tell?

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