Monday, December 10, 2018

The Interpreters

A question I'm often asked is, if my books were to be filmed (I should be so lucky!) which actress would I want to play my detective?  I can never manage a very satisfactory answer:  I've never seen an actress who made me think of  my 'Big Marge' Marjory Fleming. She would have to be Scottish, of course, and very tall - though I suppose if Lee Child can accept Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, that may just be me being picky.

I don't actually describe her in the books except in a very general way and I'm not even sure that I know what her face looks like. When I'm reading, I don't often conjure up a picture of the characters.

Film is different, though. The actor has to be the interpreter of the character and when I'm watching a series I will be very clear in my mind whether the chosen actor is right for the part or not.    There have been several TV series of Agatha's Christie's Miss Marple but for me the only real Miss Marple was Joan Hickson (those shrewd, faded blue eyes!) just as Hercule Porot was undoubtedly David Suchet.  John Malkovitch, pooh!

Ian Rankin, I know, never described Rebus specifically, yet Ken Stott seemed perfectly tailored to the part - a hard man, but soft at the same time.  Colin Dexter was thrilled with John Thaw, and indeed it's hard to imagine Morse having been the success it was if he hadn't defined the character so brilliantly.

For me Roy Marsden absolutely was PD James's Adam Dalgleish in the TV dramas and I was horrified when Martin Shaw took over, but for Phyllis neither was her Adam.     Similarly Brenda Blethyn with her Northern accent seems to me perfect for Ann Cleeves' Vera, but according to Ann she has the wrong Northern accent - a distinction rather wasted on those of us who don't live in the Pennines.

On the other hand, when the first Inspector Wexford series was made Ruth Rendell was so thrilled with George Baker's interpretation of the character that she thought of him from then on as Wexford himself in the subsequent books.

So, do you have someone in mind to play your favourite sleuth?  And of course, that does lead on to the other question - when they make that film about your life, who would you want to play you?


Donna S said...

Speaking of actors who are right for parts - for me, Jeremy Brett is the only real Sherlock. Pooh to Basil Rathbone and any modern interpretations. Fun topic, thanks for writing it. Has got me thinking. And, I agree wholeheartedly with Jane Hickson as Miss Marple.

Aline Templeton said...

Do agree about Jeremy Brett, Donna!

Charlotte Hinger said...

I can't settle on a Lottie/Josie person.

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