The Film of The Book

Actress Loretta Young. If she was still with us she’d absolutely be my number one choice for Dottie.

Writers are at heart, fantasists, and for many of us, there is no more entertaining—or time-wasting—fantasy than to ask yourself who would play your main characters if some movie mogul had the urge to transform your book or series into a blockbuster movie.

I think we all know that there can be a big difference between how each of us sees our ‘hero’ on the page, and how that is translated to the big screen. For fans, and no doubt, writers, this can lead to a terrible sense of disappointment.

Movies from books that I loved:

The Harry Potter series: I felt they nailed all the characters perfectly

Bladerunner: from Philip K Dick’s short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The late Rutger Hauer is wonderful, as is Harrison Ford and Sean Young. The silence in this work is as speaking as the words.

Bridget Jones (the first one): the same – I loved the characters. In fact I enjoyed the film even more than the book, (apologies to Helen Fielding).

Dial M For Murder/The Perfect Murder: both sensationally wonderful adaptations of Frederic Knott’s play Dial M For Murder: a collage for voices.

Murder on the Orient Express: now obviously there have been several versions of this, and I’ve loved them all.

The Da Vinci Code: well I’m a bit half-and-half on this. I loved that they cast the brilliant Jean Reno as the policeman – when I was reading the book, I thought to myself, ‘You know who would be perfect in this part? Jean Reno.’ I take all the credit for the casting decisions in that direction, (even though they don’t know me and had no idea that this was what I wanted.) And I also like the role of what’s-his-name being played by Sir Ian McKellen. But Tom Hanks? No. Sophie thingie? NO!!!

A Room With A View: just beautiful, and all the more so for not having E M Forster’s sad, cynical epilogue of reality to ruin the spell he’d cast over all those pages. To anyone who hasn’t read the book, I’d say skip the epilogue, it will mar your enjoyment of the work forever.

Anyway, this is the game I’ve been playing at home. ‘Someone Wants To Turn My Book Into A Film’.

I’m talking about my 1930s Dottie Manderson cosy mystery series.

My main characters are:

Dottie Manderson, aged 19 at the start of book 1 which is Night and Day. She is 5’ 7, has dark wavy hair, hazel eyes, lovely skin and a gorgeous, slender figure. She comes from a wealthy background, and lives in London with her parents. She is a wee bit shy, loves her family, loves dancing, and works as a mannequin for Mrs Carmichael. She’s idealistic and a little naïve. In the books, we see her maturing as she learns about the world, and about relationships between men and women. She is nosy and gets into murder-related situations. She is compassionate and detests bigotry and moral ideas that put appearance before compassion and respect.

William Hardy is the detective she frequently ‘runs up against’. (Yes that is a double-entendre, if not a triple…) He is a little older at 28. He is a policeman working his way up the ranks after his father died and left the family penniless. They had to leave their privileged lifestyle and he had to leave his law studies to earn a living. He is (of course) six feet tall, if not a bit more, and well-built. He is fair-haired, and blue-eyed. He has a penchant for a certain dark-haired young lady which makes him awkward and embarrassed at times. He has a slightly different attitude to women than the majority of men of his era in that he is respectful and does not think of women as inferior or as domestic drudges. He is determined to improve his family’s fortunes by sheer hard work and devotion to his work.

There are other recurring characters too:

Mr and Mrs Manderson, Dottie’s parents: Her father is largely to be found behind a newspaper. Her mother is brisk and no-nonsense, but as the series develops we see that there is a deep love between these two, and that Mrs Manderson has a marshmallow heart under the stern exterior.

Flora: Dottie’s older sister is married to George, a very wealthy young man. They are about to become parents for the first time. They are devoted to one another and to Dottie.

Mrs Carmichael: The rough and ready working-class woman who through hard work and dedication has over the course of many years built up a fashion warehouse of her own, and has a loyal clientele. She has a fondness for Dottie, and it is revealed later that she ‘knew’ William’s father many years earlier.

So here’s the big question: Who would play these roles if my books were made into a TV series or a movie? I’ve been thinking about his quite a bit. But I’m somewhat hampered by the fact that I really don’t keep up with who’s who in the acting world, so my ideas are probably really out of touch.

Make sure and tell me who would work better, in your opinion, obviously I need all the help I can get here.

Dottie: I’ve got a couple of ideas.

1. Claire Foy

2. Flora Spencer-Longhurst. Though I must admit they are both a bit older than Dottie is in my books. What do you think?

I’ve pinned some images on my Leading Ladies board on Pinterest, which you can view here:

William: I’ve got almost no ideas for William Hardy. Except for Alex Pettyfer. Can you take a look and tell me what you think? I urgently need help here: you never know how soon someone might knock on my door to present me with a tempting contract…

As for Flora and Mr and Mrs M, what about these lovely people:

Tuppence Middleton for Flora

Herbert Manderson: What about the gorgeous Jason Isaacs? He’s a little older now (sorry Jason, but you know it’s true) and he’s nicely craggy.

Mrs Lavinia Manderson

Well there’s Kristin Scott Thomas, I think she’d work really well in this role: (can we afford her?)

And for the redoubtable Mrs Carmichael:

Miriam Margolyes:

Or if she had still been alive, Patsy Byrne (you will remember her as Nursie in Blackadder).

So, dear readers, please help! We need to get this cast list sorted before MGM or 20th Century Fox come knocking on my door.

***

4 thoughts on “The Film of The Book

  1. Lily James as Dottie. Billy Howle as William (also like the James Norton suggestion as could stare at his cheekbones for ever). Totally with you on Jason Isaacs. Those eyes!!! And Miriam Margoyles for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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