This post was written by Miss Eliza.
I seem to start every dream casting post with stating that whatever character I’m currently casting is the hardest. While obviously they couldn’t all be the hardest, that would be impossible, some are trickier than others. There is that rare synchronicity that makes the planets align perfectly, but the truth is each character has proved difficult in their own special way. Eloise is hard in that she is the reader’s conduit into the book. She is basically us, to some extent. But she is also very much Lauren. So my problem is who should play her if I basically see her as Lauren? Maybe we should be asking Lauren who she would choose to play her in her life story? Because that’s basically what casting Eloise is, casting the fictional Lauren. Before I started seeing Eloise so much as Lauren I was trying out any red-headed actress I could think of, even those that could convincingly be red-heads. There was Alexis Bledel (did I mention I was going through a Gilmore Girls phase when I started these books?) Then there was Laura Prepon followed by Lauren Ambrose, Amy Adams followed by Isla Fisher. The complete Titian haired line-up was presented to me and all found to be lacking. Until now! Re-reading the books I was struck by Eloise’s sense of humor and her clumsiness. Of course said clumsiness could be written off because of inappropriate footwear, but the fact still remains that she’s quite likely to fall into Colin’s arms, literally, not that that’s a bad place to be. And that’s when I thought, wait a minute, what about Ellie Kemper? Most of you probably know her from Bridesmaids, as the unhappily married mouse in the wedding party, but I know her as the unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. For some reason, she’s it. She’s Eloise. And I totally think she’s game to wear a Regency dress to a Halloween party and take on spies, modern of historical, with the best of them.
As for her better half? They are after all soon to be man and wife! Sqwee! Well, for the longest time I had pictured Colin Selwick as Raymond Coulthard, the actor who played Frank Churchill in the Kate Beckinsale adaptation of Emma. But given the fact that he is now in his late forties I thought it might be time to recast… But more than age, because as you will see later age doesn’t always enter into it, it’s his recent roles on shows like Mr. Selfridge that made me realize he wasn’t the one. So who was THE ONE? Well, oddly enough it related to the casting of Richard Selwick. While re-reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation I was thinking that Richard could also easily be played by that most wondrous of actors, JJ Feild, he does look so fetching in Regency garb, watch Austenland and Northanger Abbey for obvious proof. But because I had so clear a vision of his Northanger Abbey co-star Felicity Jones as Amy, well, I couldn’t quite repeat this casting and maintain my cred as a good dream casting agent now could I? So I ignored my desire to cast him as Richard and while re-reading the books for Pink for All Seasons I realized that he had become Colin. He was tromping round the Selwick Hall property with a nice green quilted jacket on and a jaunty hat; for some reason that jaunty flat cap, the kind that snaps in the front, was key to my image of JJ as Colin. The sweaters Eloise could bury her face in cloaked his body. JJ is Colin. Also, I will admit that maybe while watching Outlander and how they decided to have Tobias Menzies play both Jack and Frank Randall, that the idea to have my “Richard Casting” move to the present might have been sparked. We could also have JJ play both Selwicks… Double the JJ double the fun?
And seeing as this is a super-sized dream casting session, let’s get to that other “historical” couple, one of whom has been waiting a damn long time to be cast, and no, I’m not talking about you Jack, sheesh. Jane Wooliston. The Pink Carnation herself! The problem with trying to cast Jane prior to reading The Lure of the Moonflower was that I had no insight into her. She, like her nom du guerre, was thwarting me as much as she was the French. I only had her appearance to go on really, which just had to be the societal standard of beauty really. Oh, and her deeds thwarting the French. As a placeholder I had the actress Paloma Baeza who was demure and beautiful in The Way We Live Now and a rebellious in the 1998 adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd. She was generic enough that she could be Jane till I learned more about her character. Reading Jane’s story I realized the role needed to be played by an actress with depth. Someone who could be hurt but also cover up that hurt; a woman capable of great feats in the face of insurmountable odds. That is when I thought of Hayley Atwell and Agent Carter. Yes, it might seem odd to think of a more modern special agent, but look how Agent Carter and the Pink Carnation are similar! They are both women kicking ass and taking names in a male dominated field. Plus, let us not forget that Hayley Atwell did not start out as Agent Carter, oh no, she had years and years in period dramas to give her the cred I require of all my casting choices. Plus, as Mary Crawford in the 2007 adaptation of Mansfield Park, aka the only recent one I will acknowledge, she showed that she can totally pull off the look, if not the manners, of a Regency lady of fashion. I give you Hayley Atwell, the Pink Carnation
And now for the Moonflower, see Jack, you only had to wait a paragraph! The thing with Jack is we all know he’s based on Harrison Ford. So I needed to find the British equivalent of Han Solo, and sadly the casting has yet to be completed on that young Han Solo spin-off film. Though I’m guessing even if it was I would strongly disagree. Because that, that is how I role. Plus who could actually play a young Harrison Ford convincingly? I don’t think it’s possible. Back to finding my British Han… so there’s many actors who I have come up with their equivalent across the water. Seth Green has Tom Hollander, John Cusack has Matthew Macfadyen, and to my mind, Harrison Ford has Toby Stephens. Yes, I put forth Toby Stephens as my casting for Jack Reid, mainly because he can call me “Princess” any day. Yes, I know he might be on the older side, but the fact of the matter is I’ve always viewed him as a Reid. He has the red hair, the roguish grin, how could he not be a Reid? Knowing, as I did when re-reading The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that Toby Stephens was going to be my Jack, I toyed with the idea of instead casting him as Reid the elder, aka Jack’s father William. I knew he was too old for Jack, but he’s too young for William, and I wanted to appease my audience. In the end I just accepted that perhaps I will find a time machine and thus get Toby to the correct age, but seriously, watch him in action on Black Sails and it’s THAT Toby, the Toby of now, that is Jack. So perhaps Lauren will have to write another adventure for when Jack and Jane are older for my casting to work. I’m totally ok with getting another book, aren’t you?