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Comic-Book Fantasy Casting

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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.
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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.

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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.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books — DC Universe 

    Comic Books — Marvel Universe 

    Comic Books — Other 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 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 Creato/rOrsonWelles, 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). Fleming's ideal choice was Cary Grant.
  • Recurring Star Wars character Kell Tainer resembles Jason Segel in illustrations. Both of them are very tall, so it's possibly intentional.
  • Neil Gaiman says that Shadow from American Gods is 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 Keira 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.
  • Winston Groom imagined Forrest Gump to look like John Goodman.

    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.

    Podcasts 
  • 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 
  • In the actual game of Injustice: Gods Among Us, John Stewart is a dead-ringer for Idris Elba. In the sequel, he looks more like Mahershala Ali.
  • Wing Commander: The Tiger's Claw ace pilot Iceman appears magnificently similar in both grizzly features and gritty demeanour to that ace shooter himself of another time, Clint Eastwood. One of the good guys and firmly focused on vengeance against the Kilrathi. Not someone who one can imagine cracking a joke with too often. According to his fellow pilots, he don't say much.
  • Metal Gear has always aspired to be 'cinematic' and thus has incorporated this constantly.
  • Somewhat weird video game example: Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend was based on Jack Black from the start, but then Double Fine persuaded him to play the role, which turned it into an example of an Ink-Suit Actor.
  • In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Malcolm Van Horn looks uncannily like Max von Sydow (most strikingly in the concept art).
  • Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic (a sort of 1988 proto-Mass Effect RPG) used particularly shameless photo swipes as the basis for several crew pictures, including Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator, Sigourney Weaver from Aliens, and, apparently, a young Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Laser Squad is guilty of this in the IBM PC version. The cutscenes exclusive to this version use trace-overs of various scenes and/or characters from The Empire Strikes Back for the Rebel Star team in the first level and the cyborgs in the second, while the team member portraits use various 1980s movie actors as facial sources - Lorenzo Lamas, Michael Biehn, Alec Baldwin, Rutger Hauer, Michael Ironside, John Hollis (who makes up the entire enemy squad in the second mission) and, surprisingly standing out from the rest of the list, Errol Flynn. In a bit of Hilarious in Hindsight, there are also people looking like Adam Baldwin and Vin Diesel as Riddick as he appears in the Batman Cold Open of The Chronicles of Riddick.
  • Zoey in Left 4 Dead is modeled after Nastassja Kinski, according to the series's wiki.
    • Something worth noting would be the fact that the face model of Zoey happened to be Sonja Kinski, the daughter of Nastassja.
  • All eight playable main characters in the Resident Evil: Outbreak games resemble celebrities to some extent. The most blatant are Jim Chapman, who is basically Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element, and Kevin Ryman the maverick R.P.D police officer, who's Tom Cruise.
  • Nathan Drake's appearance is based on Johnny Knoxville.
  • Speaking of Naughty Dog: Ellie from The Last of Us looks a lot like Elliot Page. The character design has since been modified to look a little younger and better resemble voice actress Ashley Johnson, though the resemblance did not go unnoticed by Page, who said he was "not pleased" at Ellie's close resemblance to him, mainly since his image IS being used for the game Beyond: Two Souls.
  • Like Nathan Drake above, Travis Touchdown is modeled on Johnny Knoxville. Some of his opponents also resemble real people; Dr. Peace is Charles Bronson, Volodarski is magician Criss Angel and Destroyman's secret identity, John Harnet, is UFC fighter Josh Barnett.
  • Robert Garcia is drawn to look almost exactly like Jean-Claude Van Damme on the cover of the first Art of Fighting game.
  • Max Payne's face was modeled after the chief writer Sam Lake's in the original game and after Timothy Gibbs' in the second, before going full-on Ink-Suit Actor in the third (where he is modeled after his own long-time VA James McCaffrey).
  • Rynn's appearance in the Drakan series was based on a model named Myrna Blankenstein.
  • Whether intentional or not is unknown, but Natla in the original Tomb Raider game bears more than a passing resemblance to then-singer Victoria Adams (now better-known as socialite and fashion designer Victoria Beckham)
  • Arcueid's design in Tsukihime was based upon a nameless occidental model whom the artist Takashi Takeuchi once glimpsed in a fashion magazine and was so smitten by that he decided to recreate her appearance from memory and give it to the female lead of the game.
  • The two female love interests in Dragon Age: Origins were modeled after real women (Leliana after an adult model Alexandra Stein, and Morrigan, after Victoria Johnson)—at least in the Sacred Ashes trailer (which not entirely dissimilar from the released game).
  • Many of the NPC character portraits in Neverwinter Nights strongly resemble not just celebrity actors, but specific photographs of those actors. In most cases, the photos were legally licensed for use, but when it turned out that some were used without permission, the offending portraits had to be redrawn.
  • You can actually do this with your Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. The default appearance of the male Commander Shepard is modeled after Dutch model Mark Vanderloo.
  • Balrog / Boxer in Street Fighter II is very clearly based on Mike Tyson, which is especially obvious in his character portraits. The resemblance lessened in subsequent games, likely to avoid any potential legal issues.
  • Mr. Torgue of Borderlands 2 was based on Randy Savage. Word of God also states that Handsome Jack was based on Nathan Fillion.
  • Jennifer, the main character of Clock Tower and its first sequel, looks just like Jennifer Connelly. The game was inspired by Dario Argento movies (especially Phenomena, which starred Connelly), so the resemblance is clearly intentional, as another one of the developers' homages.
  • Pokémon X and Y: Diantha was clearly based on Audrey Hepburn, down to being an actress.
  • The development team behind the Nancy Drew games uses celebrities as inspiration for their character designs, as stated in an interview. Many characters bear resemblance to certain famous actors, such as a Scottish character looking suspiciously like David Tennant.
    • Similarly, the photo of George Fayne owes a lot to Tina Fey, and Victor Lossett of The Deadly Device is rather blatantly a photo of Obadiah Stane era Jeff Bridges.
  • Doctor Who Legacy's representation of Cinder (a book character) is based on Hayley Williams from Paramore.
  • Tony Stark, as he appears in Iron's Man's and Haggar's endings in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, resembles Robert Downey Jr..
  • Aiden Pearce's facial model looks VERY close to Tom Cruise.
  • The Batman: Arkham Series got in on this:
  • Contra is essentially what would have happened if Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone decided to team up while they were still in their prime to take on Xenomorphs.
  • The Lovecraftian 1993 adventure game Shadow of the Comet has several character portraits very obviously based on famous actors. For example, Vincent Price and Jack Nicholson. Somewhat more obscurely the mayor is Glenn Shadix, whom you might recognize as the interior designer in Beetlejuice or the kimono-wearing assistant in Demolition Man.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was based after a famous 90s heartthrob actor... but the developers have purposefully obscured which actor it was, other than that he was 'who you would think of when you thought of a handsome actor at that time'. One of the features taken from the actor was his distinctive, pointed nose, leading many to speculate that River Phoenix, who had a similar pointed nose to the Link art, was the inspiration. Other theories suggest Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Zack from the Dead or Alive series was based on basketball player Dennis Rodman, and Rodman eventually played the character in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) sees its Peter resemble past Spidey Andrew Garfield and Mary Jane resemble Kristen Dunst. Norman Osborn resembles a cross between Willem Dafoe, Chris Cooper, and an Ink-Suit Actor of his voice actor, Mark Rolston. The PS5 remaster updates Peter Parker to more closely resemble his current live-action portrayer, Tom Holland.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) has a major part of the multiplayer mode characters based visually on media personalities with military background, among them Alex Zedra, Tu Lam and Tony Sentmanat.
  • Doom Eternal styles King Novik of the Sentinels after the late Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, right down to his facial boils.
  • Disco Elysium:
    • The Scab Leader/Kortenaer is bizarrely designed to resemble Peter Daou, a former child soldier who became a minor pop musician in the 90s, then a political blogger, and the campaign manager for John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008; he became internet famous for his obsessive and inflammatory Hillary Clinton support in the runup to the 2016 election, in which he would accuse even the most moderate critics of her campaign or policies of being misogynists. (A few years after the 2016 election, Daou moved to the left, supporting Bernie Sanders in the 2019 Democrat candidate race, and now identifies as a socialist.) It is likely he came to the attention of the developers via his feud with the Chapo Trap House podcast, who called him a "Hillaryman" and frequently made fun of him on the show; in the game's orignal dub, the Scab Leader is voiced by Chapo host Felix Biederman in reference to this.
    • Egg Head is modelled after H.P. Baxxter from the band Scooter.

    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 

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