When someone involved in a fictional project makes a list of actors who would best represent a cast of fictional characters.

The purpose of a hypothetical cast may be to give the reader of a fictional work a better picture of how a character looks and acts. This is common practice for online virtual series and sometimes used by authors of commercially published works. It can also be part of a hypothetical discussion by fans of a work. Many times, when a creator is pitching a work to a production company (such as a new series to a TV network), the creator will use existing photos from previous works to help others visualize the characters (as mentioned below, Jeff Eastin used a photo of Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio circa ''Catch Me If You Can,'' to help visualize the gentleman rogue con man of ''Series/WhiteCollar'''s Neal Caffrey.

Compare ComicBookFantasyCasting, where the appearance of a character in a visual medium is overtly derived from a real celebrity without being an explicit parody of that celebrity; NoCelebritiesWereHarmed, where a character is a blatant parody or fictionalized version of a real person, and TextualCelebrityResemblance, where a character's resemblance to a celebrity is mentioned within the work.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* ''Anime Insider'' had a regular column that listed whom the editors would like to see in a live-action adaptation of an anime.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ScudTheDisposableAssassin always listed the voices of actors that the creator of the comic imagined would be voicing the characters in animation.
* ''Wizard Magazine'' had a regular column about what actors should play what roles in comic book movies.
* In-universe example: At one point in ''TheUltimates''. they sit around while being transported via cargo plane talking about who would play them in the movie of their lives. Naturally, NickFury says Creator/SamuelLJackson (on whom Ultimate Nick Fury was based).
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[[folder:Fan Fic/Web Original]]
* Common in virtual series, such as ''FanFic/TheNyazianProphecies'', ''[[http://gypsypro.net/shows/creed/cast.php Creed]]'', ''[[http://www.thewatcherscouncil.net/backstory.html Watchers]]'' and most shows at {{MZPTV}}.
* ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6906423/1/iCarlys_Father iCarly's Father]]'' and its sequels, a NickVerse fanfic series which is mainly a crossover between ''Series/ICarly'' and ''{{Victorious}}'', has the hypothetical casting of [[Series/StargateAtlantis Joe Flanigan]] as the adult Steven Shay, and Music/ArianaGrande with her natural brunette hair colour as Taylor Dorfman in flashbacks set during her and Col Shay's romance during high school. The hypothetical resemblance between Taylor and Cat Valentine (Ariana's redhaired character on {{Victorious}}) is brought up when Steven meets Cat for the first time.
* Oh so common in ''Anime/PrettyCure'' fics. A good portion of these have EmmaWatson thrown in somewhere.
* TheHarmonVerse has its [[OriginalCharacters OC's]] played by real-life actors and actresses, mostly from either talent shows or from Broadway productions.
* A lot of OC's in ''{{Glee}}'' fanfics are played by contenders from ''TheGleeProject'', and bring a lot of [[CastingGag Casting Gags]] with them.
* The writing site Wattpad encourages its users to do this with a feature allowing them to pick their ideal cast from a list of celebrities.
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[[folder:Film]]
* During the end credits of ''Cradle2TheGrave'', two of the comic-relief sidekicks have a conversation about who would play them if somebody made a movie of what just happened.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* MirandaCosgrove from ''Series/ICarly'' wants TinaFey to be Carly's MissingMom.
* In-universe example: In one episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', the characters talk about what actors they want to be played by in the movie version of Castle's book.
* On ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'', the town's mayor, Walter Gunderson, has never appeared onscreen. Creator/AmyPoehler says they'd like Creator/BillMurray for the part.
** Dan Harmon wanted Bill Murray to play Jeff's dad on ''Series/{{Community}}''.
* In an episode of ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun'':
-->'''Dick''': [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD_VCqpjEDM And when they make a movue of this, and they will... I don't want to be played by Woody Harrelson.]]
* When Jeff Eastin put together a mock-up poster to pitch ''WhiteCollar'' to USA, he used a photo of Dennis Leary for Peter Burke and Leonardo [=DiCaprio=] for Neal Caffrey.
* After having the whole Series/{{Angel}}-[[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Buffy]]-Spike triangle explained to him, Lorne reflects that "I could sell that story to any studio in a heartbeat. I see Depp and Bloom - but then again, I see them a lot."
* Nine out of ten ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' fans are desperate to see Creator/CatherineTate as Harriet Watson.
* Creator/RussellTDavies has mentioned envisioning certain actors in his head while creating various characters for ''Series/DoctorWho.'' He said that while creating Adelaide Brooke for "The Waters of Mars," he created her with Helen Mirren in mind (the role eventually went to Lindsay Duncan, who does bear a slight similarity to Mirren.) Similarly, for River Song, they considered Kate Winslet for the part (which went to Alex Kingston.)
* When then-Senator Barack Obama appeared on the ''Tyra'' show, Tyra asked him who he would like to play him in the inevitable biopic. He initially said his first choice would have been Denzel Washington, but [[SelfDeprecation because of the ears,]] it might need to be Will Smith.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In the back of ''Literature/{{Inkheart}}'', Cornelia Funke mentioned that she always imagined Mo to be a bit like Creator/BrendanFraser, and then the casting went like that for the movie.
* In the back of ''Literature/DarkFire'', Cris D'Lacey made a list of all the actors he imagined playing each of his characters in response to a question.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OWYrEue9l8 This fan-made credit sequence]] for a hypothetical ''Literature/GoodOmens'' movie.
* In Creator/StephenKing's novel ''Literature/TheRegulators'', after Johnny Marinville and his black neighbor, Brad Josephson have a hard time climbing a fence to escape from monsters, Johnny jokingly suggests that they should make a movie called ''Black Men Can't Clmb Fences'', where Brad would be played by LaurenceFishburne.
* Creator/JKRowling had her own ideal cast for ''Literature/HarryPotter'' long before the first movie was made, and was lucky enough to see several of her choices (Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, for one, and Maggie Smith as Minerva [=McGonagall=], for another) actually used.
** Rowling's first choice for Severus Snape was Tim Roth, who turned down the role. It subsequently went to Creator/AlanRickman, who then inverted this trope by gradually overwhelming Rowling's own image of Snape and influencing how she wrote his dialogue (just ''try'' not hearing some of Snape's dialogue in the books written after the first film was made in Rickman's voice).
* Franchise/JamesBond is described in ''Casino Royale'' as looking like singer Hoagy Carmichael.
* Creator/StephenieMeyer's choice for Bella was EmilyBrowning. Meyer also said she pictured Creator/HenryCavill when writing Edward Cullen, but by the time the movies were made, he was considered too old for the role, making it the ''second'' part he's lost to Robert Pattinson (the first being [[Literature/HarryPotter Cedric Diggory.]])
* In Usenet discussion, Creator/TerryPratchett has suggested Pete Postlethwaite as his conception of Sir Sam Vimes, and James Spader for Havelock Vetinari.
** He's also reportedly specified "the bad guy from ''Film/DieHard''" (Creator/AlanRickman) for the role of Vetinari.
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[[folder:New Media]]
* The [[http://fanlore.org/wiki/Chromatic_Recasting chromatic recasting meme]] on LiveJournal and DreamWidth, in which posters recast parts in TV shows and films with actors of color to prompt conversations about race in the media.
* On deviantART, this is known as a casting call.
* In online [=RPGs=], players often use pictures of real people (actors or otherwise) to represent their characters. This is called a PB, or "played by".
* Amusing things happen when this is done with ''Literature/HarryPotter'' characters before they are cast for real:
** Before the third film, Ralph Fiennes was a popular fan casting choice for Lupin. Ironically, Ralph Fiennes went on to play Lord Voldemort, which is about as far away from mild-mannered Professor Lupin as you can get. There are still plenty fans who think Ralph Fiennes would have been a better Lupin than David Thewlis.
** In a 2006 FanVid [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3L8an9LUCE about Barty Crouch, Jr.]], Bellatrix Lestrange was represented by footage of HelenaBonhamCarter from ''[[Series/{{Merlin-1998}} Merlin]]''. She would go on to play Bellatrix in the [[Film/HarryPotter actual films]].
** A 2005 [[http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20431232_1085589,00.html Entertainment Weekly article]] speculated on who should play characters in the then upcoming ''Potter'' films. Helena Bonham-Carter was suggsted... for the part of Merope Gaunt.
* In-universe within the WhateleyUniverse, Phase - having just bought out Marvel Comics (in 2007) - ends up in a discussion with his teammates about a possible IronMan movie and why it wouldn't work because of the casting difficulties.
* Whole groups on Polyvore are dedicated to "dreamcasting" characters, mostly from the DisneyAnimatedCanon.
* Towards the end of ''[[Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG At War's End]]'', that guy from that show started working on [[http://www.imdb.com/list/3cfHUt9F4ZY/?publish=save a cast list]] for a hypothetical film adaptation and asked his fellow players for actor suggestions. Note that this cast list is largely based on the actors' credentials rather than their appearances, so the casting picks are not intended to give readers a better mental image of characters' appearances.
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[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* The ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' tabletop RPG made a lot of hay out of the televised nature of its inspiration; the GM position is called 'The Director', and individual adventures are called 'Episodes' and meant to be part of a larger 'Season'. To top it all off, the rulebook encouraged players to identify the actor who would play their character if the game they were in was actually a TV show.
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[[folder:Theatre]]
* In a Creator/{{PBS}} documentary on the making of ''Film/TheProducers'' (stage musical) cast album, Nathan Lane jokes with Creator/MelBrooks about who will star in TheMovie. Lane says Danny [=DeVito=] will be playing Bialystock. Brooks promises that Lane will be in the movie.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* The original ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaI'' has for the credits a list of well-known horror movie actors "cast" as the bosses of the game.
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[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'', as a {{Doujin}} game, has no voice work, but each love interest's introduction names a voice actor whom the creator would like to play them if it did.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/LegostarGalactica'' (particularly its wiki) occasionally includes information on who is playing the various ({{Lego}}) characters. One of them is played by Scott Bakula, apparently.
* [[http://www.comicmix.com/news/2008/06/04/interview-chris-hastings-on-the-adventures-of-dr-mcninja/ In this interview]], ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'' creator Chris Hastings said that his casting choices for a ''Dr. [=McNinja=]'' movie would be Creator/SamRockwell or Will Arnett as the Doc, Sam Elliot or HulkHogan as Dan [=McNinja=], and Creator/AnjelicaHuston as Mitzi [=McNinja=]. The villains would include Williem Dafoe as Ronald [=McDonald=], Creator/JeanClaudeVanDamme as Frans Rayner, Phil Fondacaro as Knickerbockers, and Creator/BelaLugosi as Literature/{{Dracula}}, "''Film/TheCrow'' style."
* All the characters in ''Webcomic/{{Zelfia}}'', however minor, have "canon" voice actors.
* ''Webcomic/ElectricWonderland'' author Peter Paltridge has admitted that he used to imagine BrittanyMurphy voicing Aerynn Arlia in an AnimatedAdaptation.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In-universe example: In response to a remark about who should play Homer in a live-action "Angry Dad" movie, Bart suggests Creator/JohnGoodman, but Homer strangles him and exclaims, "Isn't it obvious?! It should be Creator/GaryOldman!"
* During season 5 of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers,'' AdultSwim encouraged fans to submit their ideas via Twitter and the official message boards for who would play the characters in a hypothetical live action version of the show. As one would expect, the ideas were all over the place, but a few stood out as good fits, including MichaelCera as Dean Venture, Creator/HughLaurie as Phantom Limb, Creator/EdwardNorton as the Monarch, and Creator/PeterDinklage as Jonas Jr.
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