Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The man I'm writing about isn't someone I'd find physically attractive, personally. Until fairly recently, I had not thought about his looks to speak of since very early in my writing; and I realize, where at that time I saw mostly the youth taking his throne, now I see more the large and older man who's well established in it. Mind you, "older" in this context is all of about thirty or so; yet by the age of thirty, my king had spent half his life under a crown ... and age was a different matter in an unrecognizeably different time.

So not long ago, when two friends of mine were having fun casting him in the movie which of COURSE will be made of my RUNAWAY bestseller (*very much a piece of sarcasm, this*), their suggestions really intrigued me. Colin Farrell, said the husband, who's perhaps more onto something than the wife, who said it should be Gerard Butler. Now, I've actually seen Butler in both Attila the Hun's shoes (oh my that was ... not good) and Beowulf's as well (which was actually the best I've ever liked him), and I get the reasoning there, but I just hate that guy. Plus: brunette. No. Which also sort of ruins Farrell for me, too, because the last time he went blond the roots on Alexander the Great's head were just to nineties-emo for me to manage.

On top of which, they're both too old.

And yet, young as my man C needs to be, he can't look youthful, in the way actors so often do. If I could animate the best body type of an actor, over time, of all the people in the world, Leonardo DiCaprio comes closest to capturing the man I see in C. He was smaller in his youth, but even as "pretty" as he was packaged, he could actually have been marketed another way back then, and been a respectable budding man's-man in a sort of fifties heroic actor mould. He's certainly become a much larger creature than he once was. I haven't studied his bones much, but he seems beefier in a way I could ascribe to C. And he seems distinctly, distinctively, *older*, in a way VERY few actors allow themselves to become - see also, Farrell doesn't exude manliness and age to me, nor for that matter does Butler.

Be it said, the idea of DiCaprio playing my mysterious and, yes, very definitely unnamed protagonist (I'll stay off "hero" on this guy) CRACKS ME UP. Apart from the exactly-right physical evolution of his body over the past twelve or whatever years, let's face it, he's DiCaprio. But he HAS (to my ignorant perception; I really haven't actually seen him perform in a long time) divorced himself successfully from the Teen Beat crowd he seemed doomed to play to in his thinner, daintier-looking youth. Maybe he's not widely beloved, but he's *just* off-the-path enough I wonder if the guy couldn't really make something interesting of himself over a pretty long career.

I definitely cast Shaun White's face, though. He's a cousin of C's, a great supporting player, a raw-boned, taut-featured, earnest and ruddy thing who just fits one of C's commanders right to my taste. Sure, the snowboarder SMILES to excess, for my purposes, but steal that face in calm, and it's just right for cousin P. Love his face. And finding it is a great help to me - because P has been one of my hardest characters to form, and just giving him a physical description will help me to polish him.

Cousin R, another commander, is easily, unquestionably, and hands-down Stellan SkarsgÄrd, fuhgeddaboudit. He was Cerdic, he's R. Sure, in the early chapters, we'd have to de-age the guy, but get me to page 350 or so, and this is my man. I can't hate Stellan, and I can't even hate cousin R, b*st*rd that he really is, but this bit of casting is just two great tastes who taste great together. Or. Um, something grammatically tenable.

Yeah, anyway ...

And on we move, to C's wife, to the queen. I can't even imagine. Some of her physical presence is based on my best friend, TEO. Her movements, her shape. Her coloring is her own, much lighter than TEO. Her face I have never imagined. I think female characters are hard for me to "cast" because, for *this* novel in any case, as important as they are, they are very much more supporting roles.

Though the first queen, C's mother, has got to be a Nordic goddess. She's Brunhilda, she's so wuv-wey, she is "strong", she's all butter-blond and braids and very blue eyes. Glenn Close's cheap personality imitation by way of Charlize Theron's looks and coloring. Kristin Lavransdatter with a pair. Freya. More Aryan than Aryan; more square, more tall, a cartoon of ancient, northern-European woman. Her role won't be a long one, but it will be unforgettable.

C's concubine, his friedlehe, E. E is the single character I can describe to the last detail, and I refuse to. Once she's published, any moron will be able to guess in any case. So mum on that.

C's eldest son, T.

I haven't told anyone this. T is my own E, probably. Contained, dark, tall, but not as bulky a man as his father. In some ways I've reversed a generational reality in this, heh. But yeah. T looks like E. T is important, but you won't know much about his deepest reserves from the view of his father. This seems right to me.

Anyway, I started off saying C is "not my cuppa" as it were. I never have dug blondes much - so there's some humor in the fact I married a Nordic god. But C is a more butter-blond model than my Beloved Ex, who told me this year they actually took "blond" off his driver's license when he renewed it (the earth shook; it was pretty major). C will be blond through every driver's license; only his skin, his face will grow much darker.

I don't know what color his eyes are - blue, or grey - but I have a feeling they are not actually exceptionally striking. His power lies in something other than his looks, my C. His features must be regular, inoffensive; but not really beautiful, not charisma-by-attractiveness, this one. He might have a Brian Keith face. A face one can build onto, but not have to build *from*. I happen to find Brian Keith marvelously magnetic - he's warmly, wonderfully easy to watch - but the need to follow him on a screen doesn't come from the perfect, virile curve of his nose or even his rather nice mouth or eyes: it is the vitaility he animates his features with, it's the expression as deployed ON that face, rather than the face itself, which makes you look.

Yeah, okay, and the voice is a good one, too.

But voices can be cultivated (ask k. d. lang about fruit trees ...). I have built my own voice somewhat; I'm sure my father did, even if not consciously with intent. We all do - again, what comes behind it. One of the most attractive men I've ever seen has a voice unfortunately reminiscent of Charlie Sheen, but the character he brings utterly wipes out such an unfortunate association, and his timbre is his own. My brother's voice is capable of a lightness which is almost unbearable in its emotional impact. He's a devastating guy, my brother; and his voice is wonderful and musical.

C, I have to believe, owns power and appeal not born of drawing people's eyes, but of drawing their *attention*, which is a very different thing. His looks fall beside the point. I've seen countless men (most particularly men; the standard of beauty applied to women doesn't allow this much mobility) with weak mouths, short foreheads, lumpy noses, or indifferent faces generally, who are elevated as magnificently handsome completely aside from the real merits of their bodies.

Most of what is considered physically attractive, when I for one look at men strictly for the physical, is absolutely lost on me - I don't see any special symmetry or form in the faces (or bodies, why let them off that hook) of men like Costner or even Clooney. Some are "pretty" - Cruise, Pitt - but lack much indication of masculinity (or character, but of course there we're getting subjective again). Some, though, are actively UNattractive, and yet are treated as heartthrobs. Gerard Butler falls in this category for me. He has what I have long referred to as a 'meat face' - too much face, nowhere near enough of it actually well constructed. His mouth makes me actively squeamish, and the idea he is "hot" is beyond baffling to me. It's antithetical to the evidence. I can't even imagine finding him beautiful by way of acquaintance with the wonders of his person; some faces can become magnificent by the reflected light of the personality animating them (ask me how many women I have known who have had crushes on Ryan Stiles, and Steve Buscemi). Butler is just a little bit wrecked.

Seriously. That mouth. The slovenliness. I cannot get it.


So, yeah, C is a blond, which for me - usually mostly *meh*. He's a big man, perhaps tending toward a little rotundity in what passed for "age" at his period (anything past thirty). Inoffensive, but not even the sort I could get to via liking the man he is (oy gevault). Not my flavor, as a former friend once said.

I'm definitely not sure Farrel's the way to go for C. I'll have to think about that. Heh. You know, because (a) movie rights are so entirely likely ... and (b) I'll have total creative control, after all.

Eh, it's just fun musing. And, in P's case at least, it's been a useful enhancer, as I polish the manuscript.

Wow, so amazing. I'm writing a book.
Cheers, dad. We did it.

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