So I devoured John Green's fantastic YA debut, 'Looking For Alaska' in the last day. And lo and behold, it too is becoming a movie. Interestingly, seeing as how I 'cast' films in my head when reading books, I found this amongst the hardest to picture. About a third of the way through the book, I googled a bit to learn about the movie, see if any casting rumours had been sparked, and so far nothing...although one name from the few and far between fan cast lists I saw did stick with me and served as a very good potential casting choice, even if the movie isn't coming out till 2013. Most of the discussion on casting the movie was back in 2008, so I'm revitalizing it for 2011, since casting likely IS going to happen soon and shooting will happen in 2012. I hope. Interestingly, apparently Josh Schwartz is tied to the project...which would play in well for my number one choice for the titular Alaska.
Anyway. Here's my attempt to cast Looking For Alaska, in terms of the five main characters. The b-characters and authority figures (Mr. Hyde and 'the Eagle') could be SO many different actors, I won't bother.
MILES 'PUDGE' HALTER
Our main character and narrator is a lovable every guy - the type of wallflower that is content to fade into the background because it's easier, but is actually a pretty special person once you discover him. Needs to be tall, skinny, gangly, but also kind of good-looking.
Gahhhhhhh how I struggled with this. All of the skinny gangly types I could think of weren't good-looking enough, or were too old (and thus too bulky at this point). Adam Brody (Seth on the OC) and Penn Badgley (Dan on Gossip Girl) both would have been choice for this five to ten years ago.
Well okay. This works. Perfectly actually. I don't know how tall Logan is, I've never seen any of his movies, and I've only heard his voice in a YouTube clip I just Googled...but his look is pretty dead-on to the vaguest of vague images I had in my head. Sort of the boy next door, a sweet, vulnerable face. AND he's the right age - 19, like my primo choice for Alaska.
The actor I occasionally settled on casting in my head was Justin Kelly, who is a newcomer to the Degrassi cast this season...which is apparently my main source for 'mining' dreamcasts. Anyway. Jake might be a little beefcake-y to play 'Pudge', but he has the right look from the neck up, and could play a good little boy lost that easily slips into the crowd.
If Hollywood wanted to get real about casting something, then Gaelan Connell would be a great choice. The character he played in "Bandslam" was pretty much Miles Halter to a tee. I'm not sure he's quite 'cute' enough for the role, given uber hot Alaska is supposed to be attracted to him whilst my casting choices for The Colonel and Takumi are both good-looking, but in terms of typecasting, he's totally your guy for the part...getting a bit old though, so act fast Hollywood!
Another actor I have zero experience with (but hey, if they cast Selena Gomez they could be reunited), but one that fits the bill for me physically. He's got that gawk-ward look to him that also reads charrrrrrrming. I'd need to see him act first to make sure he's not too mired in Disney slapstick drama, but watching a clip of him on YouTube he seems like an okay choice.
Apparently this kid was in High School Musical 3, which (shame) I have seen...I assume he's one of the newbies they randomly interject for a Degrassi: The Next Generation-style transition, but I don't remember him. Anyway he has the scrawny thing going for him, and he can apparently attract hot chicks if he's dating Modern Family's Sarah Hyland. Who for the record, would be a fabulous Alaska if she had a little more emotional range.
CHIP 'THE COLONEL' MARTIN
The troupe's fearless, overachieving leader with a serious chip on his shoulder. Caustic sense of humor and a passion for revenge, he's also fiercely loyal, protective, and dedicated. Should be short-ish, stocky, and commanding.
You know who I wanted to cast for this? A younger version of Russell Hantz (of Survivor fame), if such an actor existed. Alas...Hollywood, go with an unknown here I think. These are my two prospects for your enjoyment though.
I've only ever seen Josh in 'The Kids Are All Right' and I liked him well enough. In that movie he was relatively passive so not sure he'll be able to pull off the snarktastic guy in this film, but he has the right 'look' that I had in my head. Unfortunately I think his 'Hunger Games' duties will be keeping him busy for awhile.
He played a SERIOUS asshat for a season and a half on Friday Night Lights as the love-to-hate baby-faced QB JD McCoy. That should disqualify him - playing a pretty boy jock type? But it doesn't. Because he was cold, and he had a stiff upper lip, and he was good at making smart cracks, and he's actually pretty small. See, I never necessarily saw The Colonel as a bad-looking dude. I saw him as a square-jawed guy with short(er) man syndrome. Jeremy Sumpter can grit his teeth and stare you down and set his jaw like few others, so I think he could rock this one out.
The smokin' hot yet stupidly fucked up want-what-you-can't-have-love-interest in the book. Apparently has a rocking bod, but also needs to be extremely acerbic, dry, confident, and brainy.
A few names floated around in my head until I saw someone else's suggested cast list from years ago. The thing is, the main casting choice - the easiest one for me to picture - would actually still work in terms of age.
Some keen eyes might recognize Miss Holland from her stints on The OC and Gossip Girl (both Josh Schwartz productions). At first I was like 'NO!' when I thought of her for the part...then I was like, actually yes. She's got the skinny / curvy body described in the book, and she's definitely good at playing a bit of a fucked up drama queen. The thing about Alaska is she's never entirely likable or stable in the book - but you WANT to love her, and I feel like Willa would do a bang-up job of portraying her brassy sentimentality. She's only 19-ish right now so she could totally film it in the next year and pass for seventeen.
Seeing double? Yeah, Maiara Walsh is pretty much Willa Holland's doppelganger. So if she's not available, cast Maiara, she'll be fine enough. I've seen her on Desperate Housewives where she played a pretty thankless role as Gabby's niece. It was more of a self-entitled princess role, but she has the right 'look' - I'm sure she can pull of Alaska's complex smart-tortured-girl vibe. Willa's still my first choice though.
Aly played an awesome, mostly likable 'bad' girl in Easy A and Bandslam - I particularly liked the interesting level of gravitas she super surprisingly brought to the latter. She might be a tad old to play Alaska, but I think she'd be good at playing the bad/good/crazy/smart/dreamy/feminist multi-dimensional heroine.
I believe Takumi is supposed to be Japanese, although in the racist traditions of Hollywood, any Asian'll do (Hi, 'Memoirs of a Geisha'). He should be kind of laid-back and cool, and imminently likable if a little quiet.
My go-to 'Asian' at the moment is pictured below. I know. I'm as racist as Hollywood, given Shannon here is not from Japan (I feel like he's from somewhere really bizarre like South Africa), but he's a stone cold fox, and therefore I want to see him on my screen as much as possible.
See above. Shannon Kook-Chung is mesmerizing and downright dreamy on-screen. He might be a little too zen to play Takumi, who has this sorta slacker vibe circa John Cho in 'American Pie', but I think he'd make a good fifth wheel for the fab five that feature heavily in the plot.
Quite frankly, Nam is too old at this point, but he sprung to mind while reading the book for his portrayal of Brian McBrian in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films - a character I felt was quite similar to Takumi. So whoever the next Leonardo Nam is, if Shannon Kook-Chung is unavailable, I nominate you.
A tricky one as she's described as a Romanian immigrant student who, up until a few years ago, didn't speak a lick of English. All of her dialogue is modified to including soft "i's" so she speaks leek theese. She is supposed to be very beautiful and have 'perky breasts', so I picture a gal who looks doll-like, as most beautiful Russian girls do. The hard part will be to find a girl who can do a subtle accent without sounding too fluidly American, or too cheesily faux Romanian a la Shannon Elizabeth in the Pie films. Since I've never seen any of these actors portray someone with a faux accent, I'm picking them for looks alone!
This is ultimately who I pictured as Lara, as per her doll-like features. She plays a good flirty wisp of a girl on Pretty Little Liars and I think she could nail the awkwardness, aloofness, but also sweetness of Lara.
True story. I've never actually seen Selena ACT in anything - only appear on many red carpets and talk shows. Sure she's actually a quarter Mexican as opposed to Eastern European, but if she can possibly portray Charlotte York, surely she can do a Romanian girl. The main motivation here is I see a resemblance between her and Mila Kunis, who actually is from Russia.
I like how one of the more minor characters has so many options. Anyway, Nina Dobrev is a no-brainer because she's actually Bulgarian, which is close enough to Romanian in my books. I haven't watched her on the Vampire Diaries but she's got that sort of vacant sweetness with a touch of fiery flirtiness (on Degrassi) that this role requires.
Hmmmmmmm well we'll see how Hollywood decides to fuck this one up. I really sincerely vouch for Willa Holland above all others on this list. I can't imagine another actress more suited to the part that's actually of the right age, and I hope some lovely casting director out there stumbles upon this and heeds my warning! Don't. Fuck. This. Movie. Up. Thanks.
- Britt's On