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 Leonardo DiCaprio circa Catch Me If You Can, to help visualize the gentleman rogue con man of White Collar's Neal Caffrey. Compare Comic Book Fantasy Casting, 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; No Celebrities Were Harmed, where a character is a blatant parody or fictionalized version of a real person, and Textual Celebrity Resemblance, where a character's resemblance to a celebrity is mentioned within the work.
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Anime And Manga
- Anime Insider has a regular column that listed whom the editors would like to see in a live-action adaptation of an anime.
- Scud The Disposable Assassin always lists the voices of actors that the creator of the comic imagines will be voicing the characters in animation.
- Wizard Magazine has a regular column about what actors should play what roles in comic book movies.
- In-universe example: At one point in The Ultimates, the characters sit around while being transported via cargo plane talking about who would play them in the movie of their lives. Naturally, Nick Fury says Samuel L. Jackson (on whom Ultimate Nick Fury was based).
Fan Fic/Web Original
- Common in virtual series, such as The Nyazian Prophecies, Creed, Watchers and most shows at MZ Ptv.
- iCarly's Father and its sequels, a Nick Verse fanfic series which is mainly a crossover between iCarly and Victorious, has the hypothetical casting of Joe Flanigan as the adult Steven Shay, and Ariana Grande 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 Pretty Cure fics. A good portion of these have Emma Watson thrown in somewhere.
- The Harmon Verse has its 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 The Glee Project, and bring a lot of 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.
- In Child Of The Storm, Harry, and by extension, Thor's James Potter form, is fancast as Tom Welling. The Casting Gag inherent in this (Clark Kent also exists in this world, as a contemporary of Harry's), is noted indirectly in the narrative and directly in the Author's Notes.
- During the end credits of Cradle 2 the Grave, two of the comic-relief sidekicks have a conversation about who would play them if somebody made a movie of what just happened.
Live Action TV
- Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly wants Tina Fey to be Carly's Missing Mom.
- In-universe example: In one episode of Castle, the characters talk about what actors they want to be played by in the movie version of Castle's book.
- On Parks and Recreation, the town's mayor, Walter Gunderson, has never appeared onscreen. Amy Poehler says they'd like Bill Murray for the part.
- Dan Harmon wanted Bill Murray to play Jeff's dad on Community.
- In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun:
- When Jeff Eastin put together a mock-up poster to pitch White Collar to USA, he used a photo of Dennis Leary for Peter Burke and Leonardo DiCaprio for Neal Caffrey.
- After having the whole Angel-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 Sherlock fans are desperate to see Catherine Tate as Harriet Watson.
- Russell T Davies has mentioned envisioning certain actors in his head while creating various characters for Doctor Who. 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 because of the ears, it might need to be Will Smith.
- In the back of Inkheart, Cornelia Funke mentioned that she always imagined Mo to be a bit like Brendan Fraser, and then the casting went like that for the movie.
- In the back of Dark Fire, Cris D'Lacey made a list of all the actors he imagined playing each of his characters in response to a question.
- This fan-made credit sequence for a hypothetical Good Omens movie.
- In Stephen King's novel The Regulators, 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 Laurence Fishburne.
- J. K. Rowling had her own ideal cast for Harry Potter 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 Alan Rickman, 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).
- James Bond is described in Casino Royale as looking like singer Hoagy Carmichael.
- Stephenie Meyer's choice for Bella was Emily Browning. Meyer also said she pictured Henry Cavill 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 Cedric Diggory.)
- In Usenet discussion, Terry Pratchett has suggested Pete Postlethwaite as his conception of Sir Sam Vimes, and James Spader for Havelock Vetinari.
- Virtually every fan of Star Trek New Frontier seems to think that Joe Flanigan would make an ideal Mackenzie Calhoun. Just go look at all the fan-made intro vids on Youtube!
- The chromatic recasting meme on LiveJournal and Dream Width, 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 Harry Potter 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 this 2006 Fan Vid about Barty Crouch, Jr., Bellatrix Lestrange is represented by footage of Helena Bonham-Carter from Merlin. Carter would go on to play Bellatrix in the actual films.
- This 2005 Entertainment Weekly article speculates on who should play characters in the then upcoming Potter films. Helena Bonham-Carter is suggested... for the part of Merope Gaunt.
- In-universe within the Whateley Universe, Phase - having just bought out Marvel Comics (in 2007) - ends up in a discussion with his teammates about a possible Iron Man movie and why it wouldn't work because of the casting difficulties.
- Whole groups on Polyvore are dedicated to "dreamcasting" characters, mostly from the Disney Animated Canon.
- Towards the end of At War's End, that guy from that show started working on 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.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer tabletop RPG makes 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 encourages players to identify the actor who would play their character if the game they were in was actually a TV show.
- The original Castlevania I has for the credits a list of well-known horror movie actors "cast" as the bosses of the game.
- Legostar Galactica (particularly its wiki) occasionally includes information on who is playing the various (LEGO) characters. One of them is played by Scott Bakula, apparently.
- In this interview, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja creator Chris Hastings said that his casting choices for a Dr. McNinja movie would be Sam Rockwell or Will Arnett as the Doc, Sam Elliot or Hulk Hogan as Dan McNinja, and Anjelica Huston as Mitzi McNinja. The villains would include Williem Dafoe as Ronald McDonald, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frans Rayner, Phil Fondacaro as Knickerbockers, and Bela Lugosi as Dracula, "The Crow style."
- All the characters in Zelfia, however minor, have "canon" voice actors.
- Electric Wonderland author Peter Paltridge has admitted that he used to imagine Brittany Murphy voicing Aerynn Arlia in an Animated Adaptation.
- In-universe example: In response to a remark about who should play Homer in a live-action "Angry Dad" movie, Bart suggests John Goodman, but Homer strangles him and exclaims, "Isn't it obvious?! It should be Gary Oldman!"
- During season 5 of The Venture Bros., [adult swim] 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 Michael Cera as Dean Venture, Hugh Laurie as Phantom Limb, Edward Norton as the Monarch, and Peter Dinklage as Jonas Jr.