What’s All the Fuss About Christian Gray?

book to movieOne of my least favorite interview questions I get about my books is the one asking who my dream cast of characters would be.  I can never come up with a “dream cast” because I specifically wrote my books so as NOT to bring a certain actor/character to the reader’s mind.  Most times (but not all) I don’t have anyone in my own mind when I create the people on the pages.  Sure I add descriptive characteristics—height, body type, hair and eye color—but I like the reader to be able to fill in a few of the blanks so they can “dream” up their own image of the hero or heroine and the secondary players.

My family says I do this because my eye sight is so poor that I have trouble concentrating on people’s faces, so everyone is “fuzzy” to me.  A valid point, but not true in this case.  My reluctance to assign the image of a living person to my characters comes from having my enjoyment of a particular book diminished when the book is made into a movie and the actor or actress playing the characters are not even remotely who I was picturing when I read the book.  Or worse, when a particular author says she fashioned her heroine after a specific actress (who plays a ninny on TV) and I’m really not seeing it.  I was enjoying the book until that point and after her revelation; it went right to the DNF pile.

I realize I’m probably in the minority here.  Lots of readers want that mental picture.  I’m pretty sure it’s because we live in a society that doesn’t require us to use our imagination very much anymore.  But, I honestly think the best books are those that allow readers to see things through a slightly different lens:  their own.  And, guess what, we all don’t see things the same way.  Case in point, when coming up for the “Dream Cast” for Foolish Games in preparation for a blog tour, I asked my beta readers to help me out and come up with some names.  Each one came up with a vastly different cast.  And that’s okay.  (Check my website www.tracysolheim.com for details on the blog tour and you’ll be able to see who I picked.)

James Dornan Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Splash News Online

James Dornan
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Splash News Online

This brings us to Christian Gray.  Full disclosure here, I haven’t read the books yet.  (One of the downsides to being an author is you rarely get time to read anything else.  Just ask my book club, I’m two months behind!)  When I found out 50 Shades of Gray was going to be a movie, I tabled the series to my TBR pile.  I find it’s easier to see the movie first then read the book.  Often the book is better and I don’t feel as let down afterwards.  (The jury’s still out in this case.)

Having not read 50 Shades, I wasn’t vested in the casting aspect of the movie, but many, many people had opinions.  I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Hunnam.  He’s a little too swarthy and unwashed for me.  Kind of like Brad Pitt.  (Yeah, I know, I’m weird.)  The new guy, though, Jamie Dornan, he’s kind of hot.  Even though I haven’t read the book, I’ve picked up the gist of the plot from the synopsis and conversations—at one point, everyone was talking about it!  Dornan seems to fit the Christian Gray I’d picture.  But that doesn’t mean he’s who millions of other readers pictured.    My sympathies go to the casting director; it’s hard to pick a “dream cast”.


What do you think?  Did they cast the right guy for the part of Christian Gray?  Have you ever had a book “ruined” for you by the casting of movie?  Has a movie ever made a book better?

About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at www.tracysolheim.com.

Posted on October 25, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m in the same boat as you, Tracy. I haven’t read the books and worse, they are not on my TBR list. Just not my cup of tea…

    I like to leave the characters up to the reader also. It makes for a more compelling read. And actors, no matter what the movie, are never the same hero I had in mind.

    Back to 50 Shades, from everything I’ve heard about the books, how in the world are they even going to make a movie that’s not rated X?

  2. I don’t go heavy into description of any of my characters. I give just enough to let the reader know it’s a woman with long hair and bangs and a good figure, for example, but that’s about all. I don’t know anything about 50 Shades since it’s not my cup of tea and I’ve heard such horrible things about the writing and such, so…not in MY TBR pile.

  3. Tracy, I thought I was the only one who felt that way about Brad Pitt! Glad I’m not alone.

    I also agree with you about relating my characters to specific actors or actresses. I don’t want my characters colored by that lens. I need to have an image in my head, but I don’t base it on real people.

  4. I tend to go with whatever side the author is on. If she doesn’t supply too much info about the character’s description, I use my imagination. But if she goes deep into the character’s description, I usually just go along with it. My own writing tends to be sparse, not deliberately, but that’s just how I write. As far as books made into movies…if I’ve read a book, I rarely ever watch the movie. And if I’ve seen the movie, I’ve lost interest in reading the book. I guess I want new stories all of the time. 🙂

  5. I read the first two books in the Fifty Shades trilogy. Some of the writing is trite, but it’s not as bad as people would have you believe. I’m reminded of the criticism of The DaVinci Code. The literati hate it when commercial fiction becomes a phenomenon. The masses don’t want a literary masterpiece; they want a compelling story. Both The DaVinci Code and Fifty Shades are brilliant storytelling, and that’s why they sold so well. The sexual tension in Fifty Shades is something every romance author should study. And while the BDSM elements are what get all the attention, at the heart is a deeply satisfying love story.

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