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Recently a small but certainly loud uproar circulated throughout the internet over the news that Tom Cruise had been cast to star as Jack Reacher, the former US Army cop, in mega-popular author Lee Childs novel One Shot.

The best-selling thriller series has sold more than 50 million copies and apparently the loyal readers did not approve of Cruise, a full ten inches shorter than Reacher, who is described in the novels as being six-foot, five-inches tall and weighs 250 pounds.  They charged that Cruise was too short and good-looking to play the menacing character.

One fan went as far to criticize the author, “He is clearly out of touch with his reading public.  I am seriously thinking that my Child-reading days are over.”

Extreme?  Certainly.  Sitting in the casting chair as we read our favorite novels can make us that way.

Great authors can make a character feel like part of our family.  We fall in love with them.  We feel their pain and rejoice in their triumphs.

It brings up an important and rarely discussed point.  One of the joys of reading is also to play the part of casting director.  Readers are loyal to their favorite authors.  We read each new release in a series and follow along with intense enthusiasm.

When I read a novel, at some point along the journey, I will stop and picture certain actors playing the roles in the book.  I become the casting director, and in my own little world, my imagination gets to pick and choose who I believe is perfect for the part.

I have always cheered when a book I’ve read, or an author I have long followed, starts to get national recognition.

When Hollywood announced plans to adapt Michael Connolly’s novel The Lincoln Lawyer to the big screen I was excited.  My inner casting director thought Matthew McConoughey was the perfect choice to play Mickey Haller.  I was excited to see the movie and pleased with the results.  The movie stayed true to the novel and McConoughey finally delivered, after several suspect roles.  My inner casting director was pleased.

Have you ever tried to go back and read a favorite novel after its been made into a movie?  Try reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove without picturing Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Gus and Woodrow.  Try and read Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity without seeing Matt Damon floating in your imagination.  It can’t be done!

Pick a Thomas Harris novel back up and read the exploits of the most chilling, evil antagonist ever written – Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

     Hannibal Lecter:  Why do you think he removes their skins.  Agent Starling?  Enthrall me with your acumen.

     Clarice Starling:  It excites him.  Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.

     Hannibal Lecter: I didn’t.

     Clarice Starling: No.  No, you ate yours.

Your nightmares will be forever invaded with the image of Sir Anthony Hopkins.

When you read Dennis Lehane’s Shelter Island did you see Leonardo DiCaprio starring in the role of US Marshall Teddy Daniels?  Did you read Charles Portis’ novel True Grit?  Who do you see in the role of Rooster Cogburn?  John Wayne or Jeff Bridges?  What about the adaptation of best-selling novel Da Vinci Code?  The novel sold over 65 million copies and ranks tenth on the all-time bestseller list.  But did 65 million casting directors agree with the choice of Tom Hanks to play Robert Langdon?  Or did you read Angels & Deamons and picture a different Langdon?

It will be interesting to watch how the public will react to Stieg Larson’s mega-seller The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo.  The soon to be released movie adaptation stars Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisabeth Salander.  Will you inner casting director be pleased?

Is there a book/movie that Hollywood’s casting director nailed it spot on?  Has there been a movie version of a favorite novel that was so miscast that your inner casting director vision was ruined?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think…

Note:  I read somewhere that one-third of high school graduates never read another book.  It has been reported 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.  We need more readers.  We need more casting directors!