Tag Archives: actors


Most media, barring things that are biographical or autobiographical, are designed to be consumed in the absence of the artist. When you read a book, the author is seldom there to explain his or her work. When you watch a film or television program, the actors and directors and screenwriters and producers are not whispering in your ear… unless you’re playing the commentary track, I suppose. The musician shouldn’t have to explain the song’s meaning. Even stand-up comedians, who often pull from personal experience, are editing the stories they tell; as the audience, we laugh, but we never really believe we’re hearing the whole thing.

However, with the rise of social media, and with greater access to authors and actors and comedians, etc.—with the popularity of those commentary tracks, and with the growing sense that the person with the most trivial information somehow “wins” because it proves he or she is the biggest, best fan—we seldom consume media without knowing something about those who make it. Sure, some of these creators remain coy, but many more have embraced Twitter and Instagram and whatever else is popular these days. One can communicate with them, one can chase them and their work all over the Internet, collecting facts and tidbits like squirrels collect nuts.

But what happens when an artist or creator is an asshole?

“Never meet your heroes,” the old saying goes. The unspoken conclusion being that you’re bound to be disappointed by their simple humanity. But when your favorite author or actor is not only human but in some ways seemingly subhuman… What then? Are you allowed to like their books or movies or TV shows any more?

It’s the age-old conflict: separating the art from the artist. Can you?

Art isn’t created in a vacuum; each contributor puts something of him- or herself into the work. Why else do we spend high school lit classes deconstructing things like The Great Gatsby? Every time we had to read a book in school, didn’t we also have to read that little biographical paragraph about the author? And who decides what to tell and what to leave out of those?

Back in the day, it was okay to like Woody Allen movies. Now you can like them, but only if you feel guilty about it. Many more people would rather just not watch than have to feel that way. But they can’t erase the fact that they have seen some of those movies. Do they say, “Well, I watched those before…”? Does watching or reading something by a disgraced artist make you complicit in whatever caused their downfall?

It’s an honest question. I’m not defending Allen or any other condemned creator. I really want to know how people feel about this.

My understanding is, largely, that not buying books by, or watching movies by, artists who have behaved badly is a form of boycott. “Don’t give them your money,” seems to be the underlying notion. Of course, most of them have plenty of money already, so… But what if you borrow the book from the library? Or watch the movie on a streaming service you subscribe to? Are you not meant to patronize these artists at all because to do so suggests tacit endorsement, not only of their work but their life choices?

I, for one, end up having a tough time enjoying work by “bad” artists because I can’t forget what they’ve done (if I happen to know). It lingers in the back of the mind. It taints the things I used to enjoy, like food that’s starting to go off. You might still can eat it—it’s not so far gone—but it tastes wrong. I mean, even if it’s something as minor as having read that this or that author was rude in a situation… Maybe I can excuse them, depending on the circumstances, but if I hear that it happens regularly… When I read a book by them, I won’t be able to not think that this writer is a jerk. And knowing a jerk has written the book I’m reading definitely dampens the enjoyment. Sometimes I might even transfer those feelings to the book’s characters and think they’re all jerks, too, because of course a jerk writer can only create jerk characters, right?

Well, no. Of course not. Writers create all kinds of characters. But knowing something about the author creates an overlay to anything you read by them. Same with actors; suddenly, every role they play is colored by that personal knowledge. Instead of diverse characters, you begin to see them all as similar because they are connected by this mental tint.

It’s enough to make one not want to ever know anything about their favorite authors, actors, etc. Isn’t it?

How do you feel about these things? Do you refuse to support certain artists because of their past behaviors? Is ignorance bliss? Is ignorance even possible in a day and age in which information moves so fast?

WIP Movie Blogfest

. . . or Bloghop, or whatever they’re calling it these days . . . Join in here.


So I’m working on the last of the Peter Stoller trilogy. And the screenplay version (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times) won Table Read My Screenplay, and now there’s an indie director who is very interested in it—he’s actively looking for financing and producers. And here’s who he said he’d like to play Peter:

Henry-CavillThis is Henry Cavill. And while I originally pictured more of a Benedict Cumberbatch type in the role, I could definitely dig Henry as my lead. Though he is a bit younger, I think, than Peter (who is my age).
This indie guy also has someone in mind for the character of Ken Gamby. Gamby is a big, rough type whom you first hate but later sort of learn his heart is in the right place. The indie director pictures:

idriselbaIdris Elba. We should be so lucky as to be able to land these guys, right?
And Ben Wishaw is so totally Simeon Martin. Q_(Ben_Whishaw)_-_Profile

That leaves Charles and Gordon. I really have no idea about actors for them. I know how I see them in my mind, but I’m not sure which actors come close to my mental picture.

Charles is in his early 40s, fair to greying hair and a receding hairline. But his most important feature is his brilliant blue eyes. Which actor would that be? Because I’d really hate to have to fake it up with contacts or digital.
And Gordon is older—close to retirement. He’s weary and worn. [ETA: Someone suggested Bill Nighy might do.]

And they’re all British.

So . . . Candidates for these?

Kate-Beckinsale-styleOh, and lest you think I’m neglecting the ladies, I don’t have any immediate ideas for Miranda either. I know she has long, dark hair . . . She’s wily . . . Maybe Kate Beckinsale.

As for music, this movie would need to be scored. This isn’t pop/rock fare. It’s all orchestral. I’ve always liked Bruce Broughton . . . Well, okay, I like Young Sherlock Holmes and Broughton scored that film (my ringtone is “Waxing Elizabeth”). Bill Conti’s theme from the North and South miniseries has also always stayed with me, so maybe him?

I honestly do hope we manage to get this film made. I don’t think we could afford all this talent, but even just one? Pretty please?

Secondary Characters Bloghop


This bloghop (go here to join) is about those characters that steal the show from the main act, either in books or movies. Which are your favorites?

I’ll start with the easy ones, by which I mean ones I wrote. When writing The K-Pro I originally only conceived of Alfred, Mac, and Craig as so much wallpaper, and Liz in particular was only going to be “in passing.” But they took on lives of their own! Alfred laid the groundwork for his own plot twist long before I consciously realized who he really was. And I was amazed when, in feedback, my readers loved Craig.

It’s happening again in my current WIP, St. Peter at the Gate. A character that would have been someone Peter just passes in the lobby has become central to the story. It can be fun when these things happen, but frustrating too when they necessitate major changes . . . Though I’ve found more often than not that these characters step up to give the story depth and actually make things easier in the long run.

In terms of others’ work, I think the examples are legion. Snape and Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books are just two. It’s interesting to me the way people sometimes rally around potential villains like Snape, or Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Well, and Anne Rice’s Lestat is the supreme example of the villain becoming the hero. In Interview with the Vampire, he’s certainly not sympathetic (though at the end he is pathetic), but he refused to leave Anne alone until she told his story . . . Many times over.

But this isn’t meant to be an academic exercise, and if pressed to name my favorite secondary characters, I would say Louis (from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles) because, though he was central to the first book, he was sidelined most of the others, and I always loved him best. And, oddly, Polonius from Hamlet, whose homilies were amusing even if his character on the whole was a bit irritating. I also always wondered how fucked up Horatio must’ve been after all that . . . I like Marcus Brody (played by Denholm Elliot) in the Indiana Jones movies, too. And the romantic figure of Ashley in Gone with the Wind as the sort of grail Scarlett could never obtain, though that makes him more of an object than a character. Prince Lir in The Last Unicorn. Jareth in Labyrinth.

I don’t know that I’d say any of the above “steal the show,” though. Lestat does in Interview, certainly; Moriarty as depicted by Andrew Scott tends to take over any scene he’s in, as does Rickman’s Snape. It’s easier to steal a scene when you’re a villain. You’ve got a bit more freedom to act (though Snape goes the other way in being repressively cold).

I suppose the pinnacle of this would be Ricardo Montalban as Khan in the second (classic) Star Trek movie. I watched that film over and over as a kid, that one and #3 (which I also loved for some unaccountable reason, or maybe those were the only two we had on tape). No, I haven’t seen the new film. Yes, I know the “secret.” Which makes me slightly more reluctant to see it, actually, since Montalban looms so large in my childhood memory. He was, for me, the ultimate scene-stealing secondary character.

“Casting” Your Characters

When writing something, I usually find (often without realizing it until well into my story) that I’ve “cast” an actor in at least one, if not more, of the chief roles. For example, the screenplay I’m writing now is based on a play I wrote last year, and somewhere in between starting and finishing writing that play, I realized it was Ewan McGregor’s voice in my head as the main character. A young Ewan McGregor, mind, since the characters are not long out of university, but him all the same.

With The K-Pro I had Benedict Cumberbatch in mind for David Styles, though in retrospect, were I to cast this as a film, I’m not sure I’d give him the part. Later in the story, I sort of had Emily Blunt in mind for Liz, and certainly Judy Dench as David’s mother . . . Everyone else I picture quite clearly but haven’t really found comparable actors for the roles. (Maybe that guy who played Lutz on 30 Rock for Craig?)

Of course, if you ever see a movie based on a book, it always fashions (or refashions) your mental image of the book. Sometimes, if I’ve read a book and then see the movie, I end up with two separate ideas in my head: my original and the one that has been fabricated for the multitudes. If I see the movie before I read the book, I’ll almost always simply picture events from the film version as I read. (Almost always.)

And then it’s somewhat surreal to see something you’ve written become a cast and produced—a concrete play or film. That changes things, too. I don’t know what I’ll think or feel when they make this screenplay (they’ve already cast one lead) . . . Will I keep picturing Ewan McGregor or will I be able to shift my interior perspective? I’ll literally have to wait and see.

Odds & Ends

I’ve finished the copy edit of The K-Pro, and tomorrow I will make the changes to the electronic file and be done with it. It’s one of those things where if I keep tinkering with it I’ll simply never be done. So at some point—and that point is now—I have to stop. The perfectionist in me would continue on indefinitely, but now it’s time to let go.

If you’re interested in a preview, though, there’s an excerpt up at AoA.

And while I try not to post too many boring personal things here, I have in the past posted a bit about my dreams and the characters who populate them. And, well . . . Last night’s dream was like none other I’ve ever had. Which is saying something because I dream vividly and regularly. But this one just felt different. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I’ve always been able to separate “regular” dreams from ones that might be important. And this one . . . It meant something, but not in the usual way. So I’m not sure what to think. I usually post these dreams on my personal blog, but I’ve cross posted what I wrote about last night’s here, if only for fun. Though if someone has some insight, do please send me an e-mail.

The first thing I remember (and I think there was more before this, but that’s unclear now), I was sitting on a wooden bleacher, outside, at night. I was on the top tier. On my right was Benedict Cumberbatch and on my left Rex Harrison. Benedict was wearing black and white; Rex was wrapped in a charcoal-colored wool blanket. There was something going on, but I don’t know what: a bonfire, a sports match, or some other kind of gathering. I spoke briefly to Benedict, though I don’t remember what was said, but it seemed we were friendly at least (unlike in other dreams he’s been in). I leaned against his arm for a moment as if to rest, like I was tired, but then Rex and I started cutting up about something else, and I may have ended up tucked in the blanket with him.

Okay, but then came morning and there was something sad going on—a friend of mine from college named Anne Johnson had died. I vaguely recall a big oak tree, but I don’t know what the significance of it was in the dream. Had she hit the tree with her car? Were we gathering there just to remember her? I think a photo of Anne was on the tree . . .

Then there was something about going to visit my dad. The house looked like the one we’d lived in when I was in middle school and high school, but there was a river behind it, and apparently there had been some rain because everything was wet and the water was high and moving fast. Also, the water was brown. Not dark brown but sort of café au lait colored. Anyway, my dad was planning some kind of trick or jump; it’s difficult to explain, but he was going to jump from a kind of platform onto this origami-like thing, sort of like a snowboard? I’m not sure what the point was or why he was planning to do it.

But then the dream became about going to this amusement park with a bunch of people from high school. We weren’t still in high school; it was more like a reunion trip maybe? And the park was on or near the estate of some movie star (the name Scarlett Johansson comes to mind but I don’t know if she was the one). I remember a lot of us joking that her parents had built the park to get her friends because she never had any.

Okay, but first off there was something about The Eagles and Don Henley being missing. (And I think, too, this was somehow related to the jumping thing my dad had done, but I’m not sure how—like maybe Henley had done the same trick?) Because The Eagles were playing a show at the park, I think? And it turned out that I’d gone on this trip with Benedict, but we’d gone to do different things once we got inside the park . . . And then someone gave me a cherry sno-cone. And I realized at some point I needed to go to an ATM, and then I realized my debit card was in the car (in the trunk, or “boot,” specifically) and Benedict had the keys. So I was thinking I needed to go find him, but as it turned out a group of four guys walked by and one of them reached out and briefly squeezed my hand, and it was Benedict, but he was done up like the old movie stereotype of Frankenstein’s Monster: green face paint, fake bolts on his neck, slicked hair. The guys with him were dressed as other old movie monsters, too, and it turns out they were on their way to some interactive, live-action game. But Benedict gave me the car keys at least. It was a cute little blue and white Mini Cooper. And I remember thinking I had no idea where in the lot the car was, but that I would find it. I specifically recall thinking: I can’t have Benedict do everything for me, some of this I just have to be grown up about and do for myself. Otherwise he’d get sick of me pretty quick. 

So I guess I did find the car and do what I needed to do, though that bit isn’t clear. The last bit of the dream featured Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty, who were evidently also doing a show at this theme park. And my friend Karl asking to please help find his cousin (whose name started with an A or a K . . . Alyssa? Krysta? Something like that). Apparently with all the press about Don Henley being missing, no one was paying attention to this girl who had also disappeared. And Benedict had also made me promise to come find him when I’d done with the car and the ATM and whatever. But I think first I went to Rob and the band and asked them to spread word about the missing girl . . . And then I woke up.

Certainly, all the missing people add up to something. But what?

Well then. Tomorrow I will officially finish The K-Pro and then take a small break prior to the SFWC this coming weekend before turning to tackle the screenplay version of 20 August. It’s good to have projects. Keeps me off the streets.

Thank You, Readers

I want to thank everyone who made the “St. Peter in Chains” promo this past weekend such a huge success. I do think it’s interesting that I have almost twice as many readers in the UK as the US; I love you, too, Britannia!

I am considering a sequel. I’ve had a few requests for one; people seem to want to know what happens to Peter and Charles. Right now I’m mulling over the possibilities.

My big dream, of course, is to fashion “St. Peter” into a short, independent film. It wouldn’t be difficult, nor do I think it would be very expensive (as far as filming goes) because it is a quiet story and there are no big chase scenes or any of the kind of thing that would require the big money. And one can find good, solid dramatic actors in all tiers of the profession. Though I think the character of Peter might be a draw for a name, since it is the kind of role that demands a lot and thus could be very rewarding.

Well, one can dream. And if I do write a sequel, I might even be able to put both novellas together into a full-length feature script. How fun would that be?

My New Play

I’m writing a new play. It’s about Eleanor and Henry II, but it’s NOT The Lion in Winter (since that one’s already been written, and produced, and filmed). I sort of have this Chris Pine type character in my mind when I’m writing Henry. Hmm.

It’s beautiful today, and I have the house to myself, so I’m sitting outside while I write and enjoying my hummingbirds. They are very happy because I have refilled their feeder. I think a few of them are getting fat off my indulgence!

Also, another of my coral and pink roses is getting ready to bloom.

Reminder: I’ll be doing a guest post on fellow author Christine Rains’ blog on Monday. Be sure to go check it out!

Freeman . . . s (or, A Post About Old Guys)

I suppose I’ll start by saying Happy Birthday to Martin Freeman. He was already old, but now he’s, you know, even older. (Good for you for still being alive! Have some cake!)

And speaking of people named Freeman, last night I went and saw Raiders of the Lost Ark on IMAX. First movie I can ever remember seeing in a cinema (at age 5, there, now who’s old?) and last night I had the treat of getting to see it even bigger than before. It’s a classic, after all. And my favorite scene is the one between Paul Freeman’s Belloq and Ford’s iconic Indiana Jones at the bar in Cairo. Freeman holds that scene. He owns it. In fact, when it comes to Raiders, Freeman holds pretty much every scene he’s in. There’s a sort of center of gravity to him, a cohesion. It’s pretty cool to watch, really.

I also always get a kick out of seeing young Anthony Higgins as Gobler. He cuts such a dashing figure for a Nazi. Of course, Tony Higgins is older than my dad, so . . . You know, if we’re going with the “old guys” theme today. Which we seem to be.

Speaking of which, my dad’s birthday is in a couple more days, too. Gotta get on that . . .

Mister Frost

There was, many years ago, a Jeff Goldblum movie titled Mister Frost. It was an understated little flick, something I’m pretty sure only I, my best friend, and my father ever saw. And we didn’t see it in the cinema, no, it was something we found as a rental, back in the day.

Jeff Goldblum plays the title character, a serial murderer who might or might not actually be Satan. The bulk of the film (as I recall it; it’s been so many years since I’ve seen it) takes place in a mental institution where Frost terrorizes a psychiatrist played by Kathy Baker. The movie had lots of those terrible lines that are fun to quote. One of them came early on when Frost is found working in his yard. I can’t remember the exact context, but a visitor (he’s still at home at this point) asks him about something, and he answers in that offhanded, Jeff Goldblum kind of way: “Oh, the bodies. I was just burying them as you were walking up.”

That may not be the exact quote, but you get the gist. Later on Frost tells Baker’s character: “. . . But soon . . . Soon you’ll be on my side of the mirror.” It’s a dumb line, yeah, but Goldblum has made a career of delivering dumb lines quite well.

Like The Prophecy (which I talk a bit about here), Mister Frost is no great film, but I still like it. In both cases they got the right actors, which is key. Both Goldblum here and Walken in The Prophecy are spot on. Playing to type, sure, but a lot of actors build decent careers that way. They do the kinds of things they (a) know they’re good at (i.e., their strengths), and (b) know their fans, such as they are, will want to see.

Then again, sometimes actors take roles because the part is not a challenge and therefore an easy paycheck. And/or they have holes in their schedules to fill. Or nothing else in the offing. Or the movie sounded better on paper. Or it’s a director or co-star they’ve wanted to work with. Or they’re just bored.

And sometimes actors get offered roles not because they’re the best fit but because no one else would touch it.

Ah, Hollywood. Every movie tells a story—even if some of those stories are not very good or are not told very well—and behind every movie is another long story of how it got made.