I’m an avid reader. I’ll read anything from Chick-Lit to Science Fiction to Literary Classics. There’s just so end to the amount of pages I can burn through in a single day.
I’ve always been told that my imagination when reading is really vivid because of the way I’ll describe a scene after reading about it – and it’s possible this is what leads to my ability to write fiction as well.
One of my favorite parts about the process of reading a really good book is “casting” the characters in my mind. I’m sure you’ve done this too: you read a book and you picture a famous person playing the characters, like your mind is your very own little movie house and every celebrity is good at acting.
As a Backstreet Boys fan, of course the fellas have made it into countless “Hannah’s Brain Productions”, but there’s been a few times that they were just a little TOO perfect for the part. For example…
1. Kevin Richardson as Atticus Finch
Maybe it’s the eyebrows, or the fact that Kevin’s always the father in my mind, but every time I read “To Kill a Mockingbird”, I totally picture Kevin as Atticus Finch. From the moment Atticus enters the story, a single father living in a small town in Alabama, struggling to teach his kids right and wrong and uphold justice in a world that is seriously struggling with the definition, I can’t get the image of the Dirty Brow out of my head. Kevin’s slow, drawling way of talking when he’s relaxed in an interview completely fits how I hear Atticus during all the court scenes and that stern, don’t-fuck-with-me voice he uses on Nick in The Fight Scene in the BSB Movie is absolutely the voice that Jem is facing when Atticus disapproves after catching Jem and Scout playing Boo Radley in the yard. It’s something about the smooth authority, I guess, the fact that Atticus is one of the most caring literary characters of all time, yet also infamously able to shut down the bullshit with not much more than a few strong words and a stern glare.
2. Howie Dorough as Don Quixote
I know it’s totally a stereotype to put Howie in the role of a Spanish knight, but this one really fits. In fact, since “Don” is actually a title (like saying “Sir Quixote”) I move to say that the character’s first name should be Howito in everyone’s minds from here on out (Howito Quixote – it’s smooth off the tongue, amiright?). The story is about a guy who, gone mad from being so rich all he does all day is read adventure stories about knights and damsels, decides to become a knight himself and defend a damsel that he’s basically made up in his head. He falls utterly in love with this woman he’s created, so much so that he defends her honor and is deeply offended by people who have no idea who she is. He’s part Zorro, part Dudley Doright, filled with the passion of a Latino Lover. I can’t help but picture little Howie D on a horse, riding around the countryside, bragging about his “stamina” and rolling his R’s in every declaration of love he makes, taking frequent breaks to salsa dance while playing his wood – er, guitar.
3. Brian Littrell as Peeta Mellark
May the odds be ever in your favor! The first time I read “Hunger Games” I didn’t like the character Peeta Mellark at first because I originally wanted Katniss to end up with Gale. So when they first introduced Peeta, I was so thrown off by the ugly spelling choice of the name and the fact that he was competition for Gale that I shoved a random “stock image” guy in his part. He was about as dimensional to me as one of those dudes in the paper that comes standard in every picture frame you buy. But as I read the book, the Peeta character slowly formed a different face in my mind’s eye – like carving a figure out of a plain marble block – and that face was none other than Brian’s. Peeta’s giving nature and strong refusal to give up himself for the sake of the games is something that completely fits my view of who Brian is. Over the years he’s spent in the spotlight in a “Hollywood” career, Brian’s never let the industry change him. He’s still the same smiling, loving guy that he’s always been. Like Brian in his career, Peeta stays true to himself throughout the multiple rounds of the Games and comes out the winner of both the Games and Katniss’s heart in the end.
4. Nick Carter as Jay Gatsby
When they made “The Great Gatsby” into a movie, I was so excited to hear that Leonardo DiCaprio would be playing the part. Why? Not because I’d always imagined Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay, but because Leonardo is about as close to putting Nick Carter into the cast as it gets without actually having to sit through Nick’s awful acting skills (sorry buddy). Every time I read Gatsby, I can’t help but see Nick standing at the end of his pier, staring out over the water at the green light that signifies Daisy Buchanan. From the shady personal background to the put-on air of arrogance and peacocking that Gatsby displays in attempts to lure Daisy across the lake, Nick totally fits the bill. Basically, Jay’s parties are Nick thrusting on stage through songs like Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely: totally awesome and for our benefit, but somewhat inappropriate. Make Nick play the part in your head and you’ll see that it’s totally like F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the first ever BSB fan fiction almost a century before his time.
5. AJ McLean as Mr. Popper
I know it’s a children’s book, but I’ve always adored “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, partially because ever since I was a little kid I have loved penguins. They’re just so funny – and in the book the bumbling character of Mr. Popper has some pretty hilarious adventures with them, including making his hallway into an ice-cube-lined slip-n-slide for the penguins to play with when they aren’t sleeping in their ice box. It sounds insane, but every time I’ve read the book in the last twenty years, I’ve pictured AJ playing the part of Mr. Popper. Of course this means Mr. Popper’s character has developed a sort of bad-ass-crazy-Gothic appeal that would only ever appear in a Tim Burton rendition of the film, with black nail polish fingers, a fashionable cane, and, for some reason, even a monocle. But AJ’s fierce love for his pets over the years has only helped instill this image in my head. I mean if AJ’s dogs were penguins and they needed ice, you know he’d be buying out every retailer in Malibu just to keep them happily swooping around the upstairs hallway. In the story, Mrs. Popper, who would totally be Rochelle, is quite supportive of Mr. Popper’s obsession with the tuxedoed birds, and actually even encourages it by joining in the fun with glee. I’m telling you guys, AJ’s one misdelivered zoo animal away from making this story a reality.
6. Kevin Richardson as Rhett Butler… and Nick Carter as Scarlett O’Hara
Obviously this is going to take a little gender bending and making “Gone With the Wind” more “slash” than it ever would’ve been in reality, but how perfect is this? Nick Carter running around being adored by all the girls in his hoity-toity better-than-you-because-I-am-just-that-freakin’-sexy way that Scarlett does through the whole first part of the book. Then Kevin, suave and smooth and aloof, arrives and with him some of the greatest challenges and frustrations of Nick/Scarlett’s life. The book continuously fluctuates around these two and the struggle for power between them. There are moments when Scarlett/Nick could not possibly seem more conceited or obnoxious about their self-adoration and then Rhett/Kevin comes in and knocks it down like a motha. You can almost picture Kevin being like, “frankly I don’t give a damn” in Nick’s face as he desperately clings to the suit he made from the green velvet curtains.