Summer is the season of Hollywood Blockbusters and it is in this frivolous spirit that The Prime Writers give way to the dream and have a go at casting their novels as films. Throughout the month of August Prime Writers will be putting forth their ideas. It will be interesting to see whether readers agree with our choices in casting beloved characters.
Louise Beech often imagines her novels as films as she’s writing them. Casting How to Be Brave throws up some difficulties as some of her characters are real-life people.
When writing my novels, I always see the scenes very visually. Perhaps it’s down to my being a theatre usher and seeing so many plays, and also having written one myself. I often physically feel the cold I’m describing, or the emotions a character experiences. So naturally my imagination wanders into film territory, and the big question: who would play my characters on the silver screen?
In How to be Brave many of the characters are real-life people so this makes it all the tougher to choose the right actor. Also, though Grandad Colin was only twenty-one in the book he had endured terrible hardship aboard a lifeboat, so would need a versatile actor who could portray the ravages of the sea. The only man would for the job be a young Robert De Niro. He has the dark looks, the changeability, the skills. Could he conquer a Yorkshire accent? I think he could.
His shipmate Ken, a tough but wiry-looking chap, might best be portrayed by Ryan Gosling. I confess part of this is due to my insisting on being at the set when he’s there, especially since the men on the lifeboat would be semi-clad…
For young mum, Natalie, who’s struggling with a suddenly ill daughter, I see someone earthy, real, and with emotional range. So perhaps Sheridan Smith. She could certainly give Natalie some clout, as we say up here.
Finding a child actor, I think is the toughest call of all. Young Rose is wilful, demanding, but acutely perceptive. A lot of child stars are precocious or Disney, so not quite right for this role. I’d love to audition a complete unknown for that part. Give some kid a chance to star alongside the heavyweights. Again, she’d have to have that gritty Yorkshire accent.
Nosy neighbour April is a slight comedy element in an otherwise tragic novel, so she would have to be played by the wonderful Julie Walters, who can do silly without lessening the emotional impact. I can completely see her knocking on Natalie’s door with lemon cakes, interfering, and ultimately being the women who helps mum Natalie be brave.