I find it useful just before I fall asleep to conjure up scenes that I have just written (at this moment, for Book 5). When I do that, it helps to have a mental picture of my characters, so I thought I’d share who I use:
For Portia, I am currently imagining someone like Emma Stone with darker hair.
She seems to be highly intelligent, which comes across in her eyes and the way she speaks and I don’t know how to explain it, but while she is pretty, she doesn’t seem over-the-top Photoshopped… if you know what I mean.
Anyway, she is who I imagine when I think about Portia.
For Constable Brian Dawes, I think of a young Michael Vartan, probably even before his Alias days.
He has the right combination of trusted boy-next-door looks and intelligence, while holding so much emotion in his eyes that he can compensate for Portia’s social ineptitude.
His girlfriend is even harder, because I DO want Annie Coleson to be ridiculously blonde and gorgeous. You might think that gives me even more to select from but it seems harder to me. I’m somewhere between
Rosamund Pike (I mean the girl has played both Helen of Troy and Jane Bennett on the big screen, she’s obviously the perfect woman) and Booth’s girlfriend from Season 6 of Bones, an actress by the name of Katheryn Winnick.
Katheryn is another one of those actresses who can pull off super-smart, but she’s more approachable than Rosamund, which Annie would have to be, so somewhere between these two women is where I imagine Annie.
I don’t know how bright Adam Baldwin is in real life, but he seems to play characters with more testosterone than neurons (no offense, Sir! they are also some of my favorite characters).
He is who I have in my head when I write Sergeant Michaels though with about 20lbs more fat on his body – specifically his portrayal of Jayne in the Firefly series.
My last two characters I need to imagine (specifically for the Reception scene at the beginning of Book 5 which I struggled with) are Dr. Beanstine and Dr. Benjamin Charles.
Dr. Beanstine is super-easy – I always imagined Joshua Malina from his days on The West Wing – he was crazy smart, good-looking in that dorky way, and he somehow managed to steal scenes from actors with twice his experience.
Put Malina in a sweater-vest and I swear, he’s totally Beans.
Probably Beanstine is even more socially awkward than Will Bailey in the West Wing, but its the right direction for sure. You always underestimate Will and then you see him run 10 miles, flex his muscles and date the gorgeous blonde National Security Advisor. He’s kind of awesome, and you don’t even know it.
James Marsters as Spike
Dr. Benjamin Charles is an interesting conundrum because he’s darkly dangerous and appealing to Portia, so he can’t be too good looking, nor can he be anything like his foil, Constable Dawes. I initially had in my head Spike from Buffy, but he was too extreme.
Marsters exhibits the correct mix of dark evil and sympathetic persona that I see in Dr. Charles. Problem is he’s a little TOO on the nose… its almost like it would be hard for Marsters NOT to seem evil – with those glass-cutting cheekbones and vicious wit..
So that leads me to someone a little less obviously evil, someone more like Alex Krycek from the X-files – as played by Nicholas Lea.
When you in your mind place Nicholas Lea next to Michael Vartan, it is interesting how much they have in common and how much it is clear to me that Vartan plays the good guy and Lea plays the bad guy. Maybe I haven’t seen enough footage of them playing the opposite, but when you put Portia between those two guys, I can see her being attracted to both for different reasons.
Characters I don’t have clear pictures of in my head: Sherlock Holmes (age 75), Irene Adler (age 74), Mrs. Dawes, Elaine Barclay and Ruby.