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.
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
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
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.