One of the fun things about reading fiction is imagining what the characters would look like, sound like, and act like in real life. And with the recent spike in YA-novels-turned-movies, it’s not a stretch to wonder who might be cast to play some of our favorite characters. There have been some great movies recently based on YA novels, but few of them have featured diverse casts or characters. So we thought we’d give Hollywood a little help and showcase a few of our favorite movie-worthy YA novels, and how we’d cast them:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
What it’s about: This tender novel looks at the deep and evolving friendship between two teen boys in 1980s El Paso.
Why it should be a movie: Although it’s not action-packed, the space this book gives to the quiet moments shared between Aristotle and Dante would make it a great character study. It won a Printz Award Honor and in the hands of a capable filmmaker definitely has potential to win awards on the movie side as well.
Who we’d cast:
Ari is sensitive and introspective but also big and strong, and he has a melancholy side that comes out sometimes too. We’d cast Diego Boneta as Ari.
Dante is endearing and earnest, even when he’s struggling with his feelings. He can be full of angst without being angsty. We think Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey could bring to life Dante’s charm.
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
What it’s about: A story of first love that follows two teenagers in 1980s Nebraska who help each other through difficult circumstances. Note: Readers have mixed feelings on Rowell’s depiction of race, specifically Park as Korean American. For thoughtful criticism of the problems with Eleanor and Park, take a look at this review or this one.
Why it should be a movie: Actually, Dreamworks jumped on the movie rights early, so Eleanor and Park is headed to the big screen already. But some readers fear that in the hands of Hollywood, Eleanor and Park could change. In the book, Eleanor is overweight and Park is half Korean, two characteristics not often seen among leading men and ladies onscreen. In a Hollywood is notorious for whitewashing, casting this movie accurately would be nothing short of groundbreaking.
Who we’d cast:
So few women are allowed to appear onscreen overweight that it was really tough just to find someone who might resemble Eleanor. We thought Emma Kenney could be a good fit (though she’s skinnier than Eleanor) but perhaps there’s a great unknown actress out there waiting to be discovered, too.
So few Asian actors are given big parts that it wasn’t easy to find a potential Park. But we think maybe Sam Tan could pull off that goth exterior and super-sweet center that make Park irresistible to Eleanor.
Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac
What it’s about: In the post-apocalyptic Southwest, Apache teenager Lozen works as a monster hunter in order to keep her family safe.
Why it should be a movie: Killer of Enemies is action-packed so it could pull in a wide audience, and the fight scenes between Lozen and the genetically-engineered monsters she hunts would be incredibly fun to watch. Plus, what’s the last movie you watched with a Native main character?
Who we’d cast:
If finding other casting options with hard, finding a Native actress to play Lozen was near impossible. But since Hollywood has a long history of whitewashing Native characters (Johnny Depp as Tonto, we’re looking at you) it’s extra-important that Lozen be played by a Native actress. We thought Amber Midthunder, who is an enrolled member of the Ft. Peck Sioux Indian Reservation, could be a good choice. But it would be nice if she weren’t the only choice.
The model who posed for the front cover could be a pretty good Lozen, too:
What books are you hoping to see as movies? Who’s your dream cast? Let us know in the comments!