Wednesday, December 12, 2018

From page to screen

What a fun topic Aline introduced in her post Monday! Most of the past week's Type M posts have touched on the business of writing in some way; polishing and submitting a manuscript, getting used to rejections, creating pitches for TV and film, and promoting the book after it's finally released into the world. And now Aline has touched on one of an author's favourite games; dreaming about who will play your character when your series is produced for TV. And Aline makes a good point. It's not all about making enough money to pay the mortgage for once and even possibly to take a trip (although that would be nice). It's about the interpretation of your work, which is as close to reflecting your soul as it is possible to get.

When we read a book, the character emerges out of our imagination. We conjure them up in our mind's eye, and we put as much into their identity as the author does. The character is not just his or her physical appearance but the sum total of how they react, the words and tone they use, the gestures they make, the clothes they choose, the meals they like... Maybe the reason some authors don't actually have a clear visual image of their main character is that details like the colour of their hair are possibly the least important aspect of their identity.

A character on screen, on the other hand, is not a product of our imagination but a real person we can see. In fact the reader's first impression of a character is not what they're thinking or saying, but what they look like. And from then on, all our impressions of that character are grounded in that concrete reality.

What the great actors like John Thaw and Brenda Blethyn succeed in doing is capturing the essence of the character as we the readers imagined them, not just in looks but in gesture, tone, and style. I would add to that list of successes Stephen Thompkinson as Peter Robinson's DCI Banks. I was ambivalent about Nathaniel Parker as Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley, mostly because he didn't seem Patrician enough, but I thought petite, pretty Sharon Small (a perfectly fine actor) was entirely wrong as lumpy, awkward Barbara Havers.

In my own, more modest imaginings, I have gone through a number of Inspector Greens, most of them relatively unknown Canadian actors. In the the twenty years since he came on the scene, a number of my favourites have grown too old for the part, like Michael Riley. So I am now casting about for a new possibility - mid-forties, unremarkable looks but a bit ADHD and obsessively driven. Do any of you have an ideas about who would make a perfect Michael Green? As for my new series,  Jennifer Lawrence would do an admirable job as Amanda Doucette. Hey, dream big or go home. In the end, however, I think my own daughter Dana would have the spirit, fierce drive, and vulnerability to play Amanda.

And thinking about Aline's conundrum with Marjory Fleming, what about Miranda Hart from Call the Midwife?

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