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Hypothetical Casting

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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 & Manga 
  • Anime Insider has a regular column that listed whom the editors would like to see in a live-action adaptation of an anime.
  • This is a very popular past-time in many anime and voice actor sites in Spanish-speaking countries, partly due of the long voice-acting tradition of those countries.
  • Saiyuki - Previous to its animated adaptation Artist Kazuya Minekura (jokingly) suggested that resident Stepford Smiler Cho Hakkai be voiced by Akira Ishida, and so when time came to actually cast him, the animators decided that Ishida was indeed the best candidate for the job.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 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). Things get awkward (and then very much worse) when Hank Pym starts suggesting Steve Buscemi should play Bruce Banner in the most unintentionally insulting way possible.
  • Even before an X-Men movie was announced, Patrick Stewart was the fans' only choice for Charles Xavier.
  • When discussing who should play Hellboy in a film, Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola wrote down their first choice on a napkin. They unaminously picked Ron Perlman.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • In The Player, many of the ideas pitched to Griffin Mill include suggestions about the casting.
  • In Get Shorty, Ray Bones said he'd like to be portrayed by Harvey Keitel on-screen. It does happen in the final scene.
  • Brazilian magazine Set had a dedicated feature on this, "De Cara Nova" ("A New Face"), which also added a director to the cast and accepted reader input (it served as a contest, often for DVDs of the discussed movie). While mostly it were for remakes - the very first was for Raiders of the Lost Ark, suggesting Brendan Fraser as Indy - there were also Live Action Adaptations - from AKIRA and Justice League to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and even a Small Soldiers actioner making the toys life-sized warring factions - and some different ideas - Harry Potter as adults, Batman & Robin done right (only George Clooney remained, and Batgirl was excised), and in Postmodernism, an Office Space-inspired movie based on Set ("well, at least those battles with the printer happen daily here!").
  • Discussed Trope in Scream (1996)— Sidney says "with my luck they'd cast Tori Spelling". In the sequel when they have indeed made a Film Within a Film about the events, Sidney is played by...Tori Spelling (who found it Actually Pretty Funny).
  • Prior to the announcement of Scarlett Johansson being cast as the Major for the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, a lot of fans wanted Rinko Kikuchi to play the role. Likewise, fans also want Ron Perlman to play as Batou before it was officially announced that Pilou Asbæk would play the role.
  • Several Star Trek fans cast Michael Ealy as the reboot's M'Benga.
  • One of Sgt. Alvin C. York's conditions for his life story being adapted into Sergeant York was that Gary Cooper play him.
  • Joan Crawford was asked who should play her in a film. She picked Faye Dunaway. The result was Mommie Dearest.
  • The producers of Taxi Driver were looking for a "Cybill Shepherd" type to play Betsy. When agent Sue Mengers heard this, she reportedly called them and asked why not hire Cybill Shepherd.
  • There have been many candidates to play James Bond over the years. To give one example, Clive Owen was a fan-favourite choice to replace Pierce Brosnan. It turned out he was neither offered the part, nor seriously considered.
  • Philip Pullman was ecstatic when Nicole Kidman was cast as Marisa Coulter in The Golden Compass, as she had been his personal favorite for the role (he had wanted Jason Isaacs as Lord Azriel, but that role went to Daniel Craig). He even approved the Adaptation Dye-Job - Mrs Coulter was black haired in the book and blonde in the film - by saying "I was wrong. She has to be blonde."
  • Bette Davis gave Susan Sarandon her nod to play her in a hypothetical film adaptation of her life. After several projects that never got off the ground, she got her wish in Feud.

    Live-Action TV 


    New Media 
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

  • In a PBS documentary on the making of The Producers (stage musical) cast album, Nathan Lane jokes with Mel Brooks about who will star in The Movie. Lane says Danny DeVito will be playing Bialystock. Brooks promises that Lane will be in the movie.

    Video Games 
  • The original Castlevania has for the credits a list of well-known horror movie actors "cast" as the bosses of the game.
  • An in-universe case in Curses. Examining the demon and angel tells you that if you were to cast a film of your adventures so far, you would hire Donald Sutherland to play the demon and Judi Dench to play the angel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend, 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.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has an 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.
  • In many sites, even in This Very Wiki, many fans suggested the hypothetical Japanese voice cast for the dub of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. One of the most interesting voice choices were Mariya Ise as Twilight Sparkle and Arisa Ogasawara as Applejack, partly due both VAs worked in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt as the titular heroines, and both characters resemble quite a lot like those characters from MLP. Ironically enough, when the proper Japanese dub came out, Ise did work in the dub, but as voicing Scootaloo instead, while Ogasawara did not get any role there.
  • The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender wanted somebody who sounded like Jason Isaacs to play Zhao, as they got the idea for the character from Isaac's character in The Patriot — but the real Jason Isaacs wound up taking the job instead.

Alternative Title(s): Virtual Cast, Hypothetical Cast, Wishful Cast, Hypothetical Voice Casting


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