Ian Somerhalder, Kate Upton/Photos © Helga Esteb/Joe Seer, Shutterstock
Welcome to Signature's Casting Call, where we exercise our creative muscles by focusing our attention on extraordinary characters from exceptional books - either fiction or nonfiction - and make the case for how we'd cast those roles if given the chance. Note that, here at Signature, we're not casting directors, nor are we producers, agents, or anyone else who has any say in how a film will be cast; we're simply ardent fans of books and movies who can't help ourselves from such musings. Here, author J. Kenner gets in on the fun by casting her Stark Trilogy: Release Me, Claim Me, and Complete Me.
I've written a number of books throughout my career, and now I have a confession to make: I very rarely "cast" them. In my head, the characters are ... well, the characters. So imagine my surprise when a few random "who would you cast as Nikki and Damien" questions sparked a ton of chatter on my J. Kenner Facebook page. I've been having a blast talking with readers about who they see ever since. And I have to say: The readers have made some great suggestions, including the beautiful Matt Bomer for Damien. (He's my second choice.)
So who would I pick for Damien if Hollywood came calling? Who could play a tennis star turned billionaire entrepreneur with a dark and dangerous past? Ian Somerhalder wins my vote hands down.
This picture of him comes close to capturing the essence of the Damien that lives in my head. Of course, Ian doesn't have Damien's dual-colored eyes. But his eyes are spectacular. (Trivia: Damien's eyes were inspired by David Bowie, who really does have dual colored eyes as the result of an accident.)
Nikki, the former beauty queen with a head for science and a history of self-harm, was harder to cast. In fact, it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I saw an image on the Internet and thought, "Oh, she is Nikki." At the time, I didn't know who that gorgeous female celebrity was. (This is the downside of being a writer and a mom; I apparently live in a cave.)
I've since learned that the woman whose image jumped out at me was Kate Upton, and right on the heels of learning that I also learned that some folks actually had the nerve to call her fat because, oh no, she isn't a size zero. (According to a website I found, she's a size two or four - it is a scary world we live in if that is considered too heavy.) Nikki is a size eight, up from the pageant days that she hated so much. They are both wildly curvy, and have that girl-next-door quality.
But while Kate Upton might be my official pick for Nikki, the folks on my Facebook page had some great suggestions, and I'm including two as close runners-up: Ashley Benson and Amber Heard. Either, I think, could do the character justice.
As for secondary characters, I think Ashley Greene could nail Jamie, Nikki's picture-perfect roommate with a penchant for sleeping around. I'm not certain about Ollie, Nikki's other best friend, who doesn't trust Damien and has insight into some of Damien's darker secrets, though a younger Bradley Cooper would fit the bill.
Finally, although she's older than the character, I think Ellen Burstyn would knock it out of the park as Evelyn, the bold and brassy actress-turned-agent-turned-patron of the arts.