Follow TV Tropes


Comic-Book Fantasy Casting

Go To
A rare case in which the real-world subject used as a template for the character eventually became actual Comic-Book Movie Casting.

Hank Pym: Who do you think they could get to play you [in a movie], Nick?
Nick Fury: Why, Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, of course. That's not even open to debate, Dr. Pym.

Sometimes in comics or animated shows, a character is made to look like a particular actor or other celebrity whom the artist imagines playing the character. This might be out of admiration for the actor because the character fits with the actor's well-known roles, or in the hope that the actor would be flattered and try to get the comic adapted as a movie. Or it might be unconscious on the author/artist's part.

Fantasy casting can also occur in non-visual media such as (non-illustrated) novels, but can be harder to spot unless Word of God acknowledges it, or the character is closely based on a particular role the actor is associated with.

If the resemblance is outright stated in the text, it's Textual Celebrity Resemblance. For when the character is a direct impression or parody of a celebrity's public persona, see No Celebrities Were Harmed. For when an animated character is designed to resemble the real-world voice actor, see Ink-Suit Actor. See also Hypothetical Casting, for where fans or creators do this as Word of God without making it explicit in canon.


Not the same thing as when a comic book or animation is spun-off from an earlier live-action film or TV show and the characters inevitably are drawn to look like the live-action actors, which would be "Reality Casting". However, sometimes there are borderline cases where a comic or animation is adapted into a live-action medium and artists start drawing a character to look like the actor in the adaptation.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books — DC Universe 

    Comic Books — Marvel Universe 

    Comic Books — Other 
  • The Saint of Killers in Preacher had a powerful and deliberate resemblance to Lee Marvin, stated as deliberate by Garth Ennis in his introduction to the Ancient History collection that contained his origin story. The Reverand Jesse Custer himself resembles Jim Morrison.
  • The Boys features Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie. This started back when Pegg had only done Spaced and wasn't well known. (appropriately, Pegg played Hughie's father in the streaming adaptation)
  • The eponymous hero of the Italian comic Dylan Dog is based on Rupert Everett. Among the other characters, Kim is based on Kim Novak, and Professor Adam on Sean Connery. Groucho is a in-universe sosia of Groucho Marx, complete with fake mustaches.
  • Rat Man is another Italian comic book that does this. Brakko, Rat-Man's best friend, is Danny Glover. Rat-Man's former mentors Il Pipistrello and Lupo are Patrick Stewart and Sylvester Stallone. Hot Scientist Kalissa is based on Cher. The Animated Adaptation also had a recurring character named Dr. Schafausen who was based on Christopher Lee.
  • Dave Stevens did this an awful lot in The Rocketeer. For example, Cliff is Errol Flynn, his girlfriend Betty is pin-up model Bettie Page, Cliff's sleazy photographer rival is real-world porn photographer Ken Marcus, and second-storyline villain Lothar is Rondo Hatton.
    • Stevens modeled Cliff Secord after himself, not Errol Flynn. He mentioned this in several interviews. And Peevy was modeled after his friend and mentor Doug Wildey.
  • Astro City:
    • Steeljack's appearance was modeled on Robert Mitchum.
    • The Gentleman, like inspiration Captain Marvel (above), is modeled on Fred McMurray. On a similar note, his daughter Tillie bears a strong resemblance to Judy Garland, the original inspiration for Mary Marvel.
    • Since in Marvels, Reed Richards looked like Russell Johnson, Reed's Expy Augustus Furst also looks like Johnson. Augustus' brother, Julius, though, is based on Julius Schwartz.
  • Anything drawn by Greg Land will resemble a random assortment of celebrities and porn stars due to his tendency to trace. Unfortunately, there's little rhyme or reason to his choices. Emma Frost may look like Natalie Portman in one panel and Kim Kardashian in the next.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark has too many of these to count, though the most notable one has to be Lord Julius, who for all intents and purposes is Groucho Marx. Groucho's actual first name, for the record, was Julius. Other members of the Marx Brothers are also depicted. Over the years there has also been a character based upon Margaret Thatcher, and Canadian politicians have also been caricatured.
  • In Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8, there's a Tibetan character called Bayarmaa. The artist, Georges Jeanty, made her look like the exact portrait of Dichen Lachman, a half Tibetan actress who stars in another of Whedon's shows (she's Sierra in Dollhouse).
  • Jeremy Johns, a character in Spike: After the Fall, is based on Jim Halpert from The Office, played by John Krasinski.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips:
    • In "A Change of Mind", the villainous Mad Scientist Professor Hardin is both physically based on, and named after, Jerry Hardin, best known as Deep Throat in The X-Files.
    • Long-running Eighth Doctor companion Izzy S was based, according to Word of God, initially on the singer Louise Wener and later on the actress Luisa Bradshaw-White.
    • The Eighth Doctor strips also featured a fake Ninth Doctor, in reality, the Time Lord agent Shayde in disguise, who was visually based on the Big Name Fan, spin-off actor-director, and now official Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs.
    • Leighton Woodrow, a MI6 recurring character from that era of the comics, was closely based on Leo McKern, specifically, as he appeared when playing Number Two in The Prisoner (1967).
    • Frobisher's humanoid form in his Eighth Doctor reappearance is based on James Gandolfini.
    • In the Twelfth Doctor strips, Jess Collins was based on actress MéLissa Azombo, a big Doctor Who fan who jumped at the chance to be in the comic, even doing a photoshoot as reference for artist David A. Roach.
    • Tech-bro quadrillionaire Rudy Zoom, a recurring character in the Twelfth Doctor strips, is closely based on Lenny Henry (who'd subsequently get a role in the TV series during the Thirteenth Doctor's era as wealthy tech-bro Daniel Barton, though he's a villain where Rudy's more or less on the Doctor's side).
    • The younger version of the War Doctor seen in The Clockwise War and Ambush is obviously based on a young John Hurt-specifically the picture used for his reflection in The Night of the Doctor.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Eleventh Doctor comics, the older version of recurring villain August Hart is blatantly based on Bryan Cranston's Beard of Evil look as Walter White.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Twelfth Doctor comics, the original companion Hattie, who is a bassist in a rock band, looks like a younger and punker Gail Ann Dorsey, a real bass player best known for her work with David Bowie.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Thirteenth Doctor comics, the female incarnation of the Corsair who appears in one arc bears a strong resemblance to Katie McGrath.
  • Lieutenant Blueberry was originally based on Jean-Paul Belmondo. His face later evolved into what now looks like a Belmondo/Antonio Banderas cross-over.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • The titular character was modeled on Clint Eastwood.
    • Dirty Frank was intentionally drawn to resemble Alan Moore.
    • Judge Anderson was based on Debbie Harry in her first few appearances.
  • There are a number of examples in Global Frequency, Depending on the Artist. In certain issues, Miranda Zero looks almost exactly like Michelle Forbes, who was later cast as her in the abortive TV pilot. In issue 4, the English gunwoman looks like Kate Moss (something of an in-joke, as Warren Ellis's Stormwatch and The Authority leading character Jenny Sparks was famously visually based on her). And in issue 5, the magician Alan Crowe looks exactly like Alan Cumming.
  • Rasputin in Corto Maltese is quite obviously modeled after the famous Russian monk of the same name. This is lampshaded in one story, where someone asks the name of the "guy who looks like Rasputin".
  • The main character of Switchblade Honey, Captain John Ryder, is based on Ray Winstone. The story started out with the idea "What if the kind of character who Ray Winstone usually plays somehow got to be a Star Trek captain?".
  • Jon Polito was cast as Gideon the pawnshop owner in the film of The Crow because the character in the comic was modeled on him.
    • Eric's physique was modeled on Iggy Pop.
  • In the Marsupilami comic series, Harold Stonelove, the villain of "The Temple of Boavista", has a striking similarity to Hugh Laurie, especially in the flashback to his younger days.
  • Gargoyles: Several comic only characters were based on actors, and even the creator admitted that he mentally casts the characters. Quincy Hemings is Morgan Freeman, Duval is Eddie Marsan, and the leader of the Illuminati is Jude Law.
  • Criminal: Last of the Innocent features Wil Wheaton as Britannica Black, a former Kid Detective who grew into a Noir-style PI.
  • Wesley and the Fox in Wanted are overtly based on Eminem and Halle Berry, in what was seen as a deliberate attempt to angle for a film adaptation. In the eventual film the roles ended up being played by James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie. Wesley's father bears a resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones.
  • Mark Millar's first comic Saviour focuses on a returned Jesus who later turns out to be the devil that looks like Jonathan Ross.
  • Asterix:
  • Jenny Sparks in Stormwatch and The Authority is a double for the model Kate Moss.
  • Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch's series America's Got Powers is pretty evident with its celebrity likenesses, with David Tennant as the head scientist, and Sarah Palin as a villainous US Sentator, with Ed Harris playing a John McCain fashioned US President, even before he was cast as McCain for the TV movie Game Change.
  • Lucky Luke:
  • From Hell: Inspector Abberline was modelled after Robbie Coltrane. Who amusingly was also in the movie, though Abberline himself was played by Johnny Depp.
  • In Transmetropolitan, Oscar Rossini is played by Patrick Stewart, who was a big fan of the comic and had been considered as potentially playing Spider Jerusalem in a failed film adaptation project.
  • The cast of The Wicked + The Divine are all physically modeled after famous music stars.
  • By Word of God, the titular heroine of Albedo: Erma Felna EDF is basically a feline version of Helena Bonham-Carter, albeit only in looks in a retroactive way, due to the Art Evolution Erma has suffered across the years, since she debuted many years before Carter began her career as an actress.
  • The IDW comic spin-off of Dirk Gently has a Dirk who looks very, very, similar to David Tennant. He's also costumed and styled in a way that creates the general impression that IDW were very upset about losing the Doctor Who comics license and are desperately trying to lure the readers into a new comic.
  • In The Invisibles, the Blind Chessplayer is sometimes drawn to look exactly like Richard E. Grant. After one of those occasions, his conversation with Dane in Dulce, Dane outright says that he looked like a well-known actor without mentioning who.
  • XIII: General Carrington is very much Lee Marvin. Jones looks like Whitney Houston. Carl Heideger looks like Henry Kissinger. Betty Barnowsky looks like Shirley MacLaine.
  • Transformers vs. G.I. Joe:
  • In the Image SF comic Void Trip, co-protagonist Ana looks an awful lot like Cara Delevingne.
  • At least one of the plenitude of Star Wars spinoff comics appears to have modeled its depiction of Jedi Knight Kam Solusar on Bruce Willis.
  • Rob Liefeld's character Prophet's sidekick Kirby is based, not surprisingly, on Jack Kirby.
  • The short-lived The Beano character Robbie Rebel was based on Robbie Williams.
  • The Viz character Cockney Wanker was based on actor and comedian Mike Reid (best known for playing Frank Butcher in EastEnders).
  • Comic adaptations of the Oz series have a tendency to draw Dorothy not as her real actress Judy Garland, but the original casting choice of writer Frank Baum and producer Mervyn LeRoy, Shirley Temple.
  • In Apama - The Undiscovered Animal, main character Ilyia and his love interest Vica are modeled after actors Perren Hedderson and Jocelyn Wrzosek, who played their counterparts David and Robyn in the movie Hero Tomorrow.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Paul Kidby's illustrations of Sam Vimes in Discworld cover designs and other art deliberately depict him as Clint Eastwood. By contrast, Melvyn Grant, the artist of Where's My Cow?, drew Vimes like Pete Postlethwaite, who was said to be Terry Pratchett's own fantasy casting for the role.
    • Similarly, Kidby has based his drawings of Carrot Ironfoundersson on a young Liam Neeson.
  • Cornelia Funke based Mo in Inkheart on Brendan Fraser, who went on to play the character in the film version. (And in her less-famous novel The Thief Lord, she based Viktor on Bob Hoskins. It was also made into a film, but not with Bob Hoskins in.)
  • Harry Dresden is generally described (and in illustrations and the comics, drawn) in fashions that evoke a young Clint Eastwood, which carries over into the art. Tall, lean, dark-haired, stubbly, sharp features... yep, that's Clint.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe examples:
  • Word of God from Marissa Meyer is that Linh Cinder from Lunar Chronicles was modeled after Mew Azama, the actress who played Sailor Jupiter in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
  • Barbara Hambly:
  • Supposedly, J. K. Rowling based Hagrid on Robbie Coltrane when she was writing the first Harry Potter book. Either way, when the movies rolled around, she insisted that Robbie Coltrane was the only choice for the part of Hagrid and, fortunately for her, they got himnote . JK has also said that she imagined Professor McGonagall as being Maggie Smith. This also worked out for her. One that didn't however, was her vision of Tim Roth as Snape (Roth later confirmed he was offered the part, but was unable to appear in the first film due to his commitment to Planet of the Apes (2001)), although it's clear that Alan Rickman did start to creep into her image of him in later books.
  • Tamora Pierce often "casts" characters in her head in both her Tortall Universe and Circle of Magic books—sometimes the actor themselves or a role they've played. Rosethorn, for example, is based on Kira Nerys. (Yes, she's a Trekkie.) Rosto the Piper is played by James Marsters, which is pretty clear when you read Beka's description and then look at a picture of, say, Spike.
  • Played with in Gaunt's Ghosts. In the books, Gaunt is described as having blonde hair and it's generally agreed he was modeled after Sean Bean's performance in Sharpe. The funny thing is that the cover art also looks like Sharpe, only this time as he's described in the books.
  • Christopher Fowler's novel Hell Train is conceived as the novelisation of a fictional "lost" Hammer Horror film, with a framing narrative around the planning of the film. This includes an in-canon casting chapter where it's discussed which of the Hammer regulars and other well-known English character actors would play the major characters.
  • Happens in-universe in Nora Roberts' Tribute. After meeting Former Child Star Cilla McGowan, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer is inspired to create a new superheroine and bases her appearance off of Cilla's.
  • A.J. Butcher, the author of Spy High, said that he envisioned Lori as the tennis player Anna Kournikova, and would want her to be played by Kournikova in any screen adaptation (although Kournikova isn't an actress.)
  • William Goldman says he wrote Fezzik in The Princess Bride with André the Giant in mind. They got him for the movie, even though he didn't speak English!
  • Rex Mundi, the co-hero of Robert Rankin's Armageddon trilogy, is repeatedly described as looking like a young Harrison Ford. The third book in the trilogy finishes with "credits" (including actors who at the time of publication were obviously far too old for the characters (or, in the case of Orson Welles, too dead)). It also has a bunch of minor characters arguing over which film star they resemble as they fight to get more page space. Note that Rex's co-hero is a time-travelling Elvis Presley.
  • Writer Ian Fleming based the James Bond's original appearance on that of singer/actor Hoagy Carmichael. In later books, however, Fleming made Bond more closely resemble actor Sean Connery (including making the character part Scottish).
  • Recurring Star Wars character Kell Tainer resembles Jason Segel in illustrations. Both of them are very tall, so it's possibly intentional.
  • Word of God says that Shadow from American Gods by Neil Gaiman was supposed to look like Dwayne Johnson.
  • An odd partial example - the The Pirates books make a point out of describing the Captain in the introduction to every book as "all teeth and curls" and with "a pleasant, open face", both notorious clichés used to describe Tom Baker and Peter Davison's Doctors in Doctor Who ("teeth and curls" coming from a notorious Take That! line by Jon Pertwee's Doctor in "The Five Doctors", and "pleasant open face" from Terrance Dicks' Target novelisations). However, when the author was asked about whether he imagined the Captain being 'played' by those actors in an interview, he admitted that he didn't imagine him as anyone specific at all. The version of him that appears in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! looks slightly like a mixture of Tom Baker and Peter Davison, but in the art style it's hard to tell, and his voice performance (by Hugh Grant) and animation is nothing like how either of them would have played the role.
  • Word of God is that in Star Trek: Vanguard, Admiral Nogura is "played" by Mako and Jon Cooper is James Naughton.
  • The depiction of Frost in the last book's cover of the Magic University series has a staggering resemblance to Kiera Knightley.
  • In Catch-22, Major Major Major Major's life is plagued by his resemblance to Henry Fonda:
    Major Major had three strikes on him from the beginning – his mother, his father and Henry Fonda, to whom he bore a sickly resemblance almost from the moment of his birth. Long before he even suspected who Henry Fonda was, he found himself the subject of unflattering comparisons everywhere he went. Total strangers saw fit to deprecate him, with the result that he was stricken early with a guilty fear of people and an obsequious impulse to apologize to society for the fact that he was not Henry Fonda."
  • The children's book Out of the Dust features a non-celebrity example. On the cover there is a historical photograph of a girl named Lucille Burroughs. Word of God is that Billie Jo looks like her.
  • In the illustrations for the short story "Peaceniks" in The Essential Book of K9, the character Starjakk is modelled, with permission, on the actor Vitas Varnas.
  • Trainspotting: Mark Renton is described as looking like footballer Alex McLeish due to his ginger hair, while Tommy is described as looking like a young Harrison Ford. In the sequel Porno, Sick Boy is described as looking like Steven Seagal.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Many characters in Doonesbury started out as caricatures of real-life figures, although they tend to evolve away from the initial resemblance over time, and often outlast the original figure's fame. The most prominent such character in the strip is Uncle Duke, based on Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Joe's partner, Crunchy, from Jump Start was clearly based on Edward Asner. He even has the personality of the types of characters Asner has a tendency to play, having a gruff exterior with a Hidden Heart of Gold.

  • Chrissy Nada in the Cool Kids Table game All I Want for Christmas is Lori Laughlin as Aunt Becky from Full House. And her husband Mike is played by John Stamos.
  • Hardcore, the resident scientist of Shuffle Quest, is played by Glenn Close. When asked what Hardcore wears, the showrunners said that she wears whatever Glenn Close wears.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • A few characters from Warhammer 40,000 are based on famous movie characters and are thus designed to resemble the actors who played them (though how much the models and/or official art reflect this is pretty hit or miss). Fabius Bile is pretty blatantly modeled on Richard O'Brien as Riff Raff, Sly Marbo is Sylvester Stallone's Rambo, etc., though sometimes there's no particular rationale for a character's resemblance to a particular celebrity. There's one cover painting for one of the Horus Heresy books where Horus bears an uncanny resemblance to James Gandolfini of all people.
  • At COTG Live Event, several wrestlers dressed as characters from the Champions Of The Galaxy card game. These characters then got special cards made to resemble the wrestlers portraying them, Thantos even getting altered abilities to make him even more like Chuck Taylor.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, Gunnery Sgt. Oscar Bardue (ret.) plays Nick Fury - in front of the in-universe majority shareholder of Marvel - thus giving readers their first real impression of who and what Bardue looks like.
  • Conversational Troping by El Sandifer in TARDIS Eruditorum when discussing the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel The Dark Path as though it was actually published in 1968, just to show why this doen't work. She notes that the evil Member of the Doctor's Race (don't mention the Time Lords!) who appears in the book is drawn on the cover to look like character actor Roger Delgado, suggesting McIntee had some casting ideas in mind when writing it.

    Western Animation 


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: