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Why audiences shouldn’t be so quick to criticize casting choices for male leads

June 27, 2014
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Ever read a book before it was a movie and thought that a particular actor would be perfect as him? I’m sure everyone has at some point or another, but what happens when the person you feel is perfect, is not who is cast in reality. You go through the heartache of having to envision a ‘new’ protagonist male, but in actual fact book readers from all genres see and want a different person to play their favourite character, so is it fair to criticize one before seeing him in action?

Many actors in some of our much loved young adult book to movie adaptations have had to deal with harsh and sometimes fiercely horrible criticism from fans. These range from, not only whether they could play the role, but in actual fact, appearance tars the male leads just as harshly as it does the females. Actors are stigmatized because of their weight, hair colour, height even to go as far as not liking an accent, even though the author describes this as belonging to the character.

Don’t have anything nice to say? Then don’t say anything at all.

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Jamie Campbell Bower spoke to Sugarscape in August last year about the negative fan reaction he had received. In Jamie’s case, the fans had been extremely harsh early on about his appearance, more so then whether he could ‘act’ the part or not. A point that he stated had ‘hurt’ a lot because he hadn’t even begun filming. As an actor he understood that sometimes you have to change your appearance to meet the standards of fans. When the film was released, most of the same fans of the book, who had doubted him had actually loved his portrayal of Jace Herondale Wayland Morgenstern. His edgy but comedic humour added so much to the Shadowhunter the readers had come to love and I personally couldn’t see anyone else take on such a part with as much emotion and depth as Jamie did. Moral of the story, having an opinion is important, especially as fans, but in the same right actors should be given a chance to portray much loved characters from books without feeling hurt or disappointed for letting down a fan base.

“But you know, if there’s one thing that someone can take from this answer, this monlogue, is that next time you judge someone, just think. Use your brain, don’t be an idiot.”- Jamie Campbell BowerSugarscape

Authors are the best judges

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A good example of this would be Danila Kozlovsky who plays Dimitri Belikov in the Vampire Academy series, some readers of the books were extremely negative to the amazing much loved Russian actor. What readers of huge YA franchises tend to forget is that when a book is being made into a movie the author does have a say on the actors and actresses that are going to play their characters, and though we’d all like to believe that the person we want is who the author wants, in actual fact the books are their babies and no one could know the characters better. A common problem that arises for male leads is when fan bases push for a certain actor, if they aren’t chosen it then stems and allows for unnecessary comparisons. And though it’s easy to forget, books and movies are two separate mediums, when you read a book, you have enough leeway to imagine who you will, after all in that moment their story is also yours. But on film, it’s up to the director to please a whole huge fan base. Think about it, how many times do your friends see someone else playing your favourite character?

Everyone will want someone different from their male protagonist

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Whether it’s a huge fan base or not, everyone who reads imagines the world, the character and the way they look differently. It is the plethora of what is good about reading, nothing is ever static and so if you don’t like an actor because of the way he looks, there will be someone, somewhere, who thinks he’s perfect. More so than this, judging actors on appearance before you see them bring to life your favourite character, is unnecessary and can be unkind. Fans, critics and the media have a responsibility to be constructive and be open to someone new, it doesn’t mean you can’t wish someone else played Jace, Dimitri or Peeta among others but judgement based on appearance is uncalled for.

All of us at Page to Premiere, want to make clear that we believe that female protagonist’s in book to movie adaptations, have to deal with the same stigmas and criticisms from fans and the media too.


Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover


Mariyam is a 23 year old Londoner with a BSC in Sociology & Communications from Brunel university. When she isn’t adventuring across London with her trusted camera, or of course obsessing over any and every Cassandra Clare novel. She makes nerdy pieces of jewellery based on much loved books and movies for her Etsy shop, Oh Panda Eyes. The first book she was bewitched over being adapted into a film was Harry Potter, touring every inch of the UK for any house, hill and road that Harry Potter was filmed on, to camping out for the last ever premiere brought her closer to one of her favourite adaptations. Though she loves an array of genres, YA and the classics are her favourites. You can follow her on twitter: @LadyBird_1990


  • Sarah Amila Zakaria

    just like what happen to Heath Ledger as the Joker…

  • Melissa Flim

    Which ended up being his most iconic role in his life.

  • Ida

    What? , I didn’t go to read the fanbase comments and stuff when that movie was casting, but I saw the official casting list, and thought HL as Joker? BRILLIANT!! :P though… I have been critical to some castings, just not openly in public… I’ve made suggestions on who I would love to see play the character, but never questioned the final casting. :) except once… ^_^” Saoirse playing Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones… I thought she looked too strong to play Susie… especially after having seen her in City of Ember… BUT she proved me all wrong. :P guys though…. can’t say I’ve been disapointed in any casting…

  • Georgia Emily Hollins

    Josh as Peeta was the most perfect though.

  • Noelle Braaten

    Right?! I have to admit, when basing on looks, I wasn’t sure about Jamie or Josh! But I would never hate on them prior to seeing the movie. In the end, I loved all three of these performances, and now try harder not to judge before the film is released.

  • Stormii

    I always loved Danila for Dimitri, he was perfect. I admit I had trouble with Josh for Peeta, something about it seemed off. Then I saw the movie and can’t imagine anyone else. I think that happens a lot with casting, people first hate them but when they see them in action it becomes a different story.

  • Lacey Hatler Gutierrez

    I lovd all of them! You never know how it’s going to turn out until you see it. It’s like when people complain about a movie being different than the book, before it’s even out and getting upset. The movies are ALWAYS different! Enjoy them for their differences as well as their similarities!

  • http://lovethroughthedarkdays.tumblr.com/ Amelia B

    I always look for the way they act in interviews or such before judging whether I’m optimistic or not. Example: Josh Hutcherson had that Peeta-ness about him, that pleasant excitement whenever he talked so I got very excited. In contrast, when Liam Hemsworth was cast as Gale, I wasn’t excited, and to this day, I still feel like they turned Gale into a cardboard cutout, one dimensional “hot best friend” trope. Perhaps when i’m 30 years older and they reboot the series they’ll do Gale justice next time.
    (Another example: Theo James I was super excited for when I found out, even though he was significantly older than Shailene. He just seemed like he encapsulated Four whenever he talked.)

  • raquel

    After being like this with Josh in the Hunger Games and then loving him as Peeta I have stopped judging actors/actresses about their roles. I sometimes only state reasons of why I wouldn’t like them but I never say rude things. That’s what I’m doing with Alex Roe who’s being cast as Evan Walker in the 5h Wave. I’ll wait until the movie (or trailer or a clip) to make up my decision about him in his role.

  • Danielle Lowry

    I think one of the biggest fan dislikes which changed real quick was Sam Claflin as Finnick, but I was behind that from the get go.
    Everyone has their biases, and i think thats why most actors/actresses just don’t read the press. It’s the best thing for them to do, really. All 3 of the actors listed though did really well in their roles. I like the fact Josh isn’t very tall and that he’s shorter than Jennifer, because it makes their difference in gender roles and dynamics all the more interesting. I love that Danila wasn’t conventionally attractive. It made his character more interesting. And I will never understand Jamie hate because like he basically is Jace…

  • JessieJSK

    I had bit of trouble to see Danila as Dimitri, but then after watching the movie for a second time, I think he did the role pretty well.. <3
    I cant imagine anyone else playing Jace <3 Jamie is a perfect Jace. :D