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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.

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 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.


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  • 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. Kidby has since tried to develop his Vimes into a sort of cross between Eastwood and Postlethwaite.
    • 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 The 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). 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.
  • 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.
  • A Memoir by Lady Trent indulges in this for the illustrations; for example, neither Lady Trent herself nor her best friend Tom Wilker are ever given much physical description in the text, but are drawn to resemble Maggie Smith and Domhnall Gleeson respectively.

    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 Ed 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.
  • The main characters in Apartment 3-G were all based on actresses who were popular when the strip came out: Margo is Joan Collins, Tommie is Lucille Ball, and Lu Ann is Tuesday Weld. It's a lot more obvious in the early strips.

  • 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 
  • In the early 1990s, BattleTech fans floated the older Lauren Bacall as ideal to play Clan War-era Natasha Kerensky.
  • 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.
    • Roboute Guilliman bears quite a resemblance to Mark Strong in some of his artwork. Ferrus Manus looks a bit like Jon Bernthal, especially his appearance as The Punisher. Eldrad Ulthran in official art where he is helmetless looks a lot like Hugo Weaving's Elrond.
  • Warhammer, the Fantasy game, also gets in on this. For instance Orion, the King in the Woods and ruler of Athel Loren, looks quite a bit like Mel Gibson in some of his art and in his Total War: Warhammer appearance.
  • 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 doesn'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