A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
I am tackling the easiest part of my Movie first: the setting.
Most of the book is set in present day London with locations ranging from Shepherds Bush to Hammersmith, Kensington to Streatham. There are a number of scenes in Taylor’s school (which I actually picture more like my own old school, Samuel Whitbread in Bedfordshire) and a number of scenes inside various places, such as Angel Tube station, Pizza Express and the Science Museum.
The soundtrack should start dark, gritty and urban and segue into something more anthemic.
Justin’s theme is Viva la Vida by Coldplay.
Justin and Taylor’s love song is I’m not Calling you a Liar by Florence and the Machine.
The playlist itself exists on Spotify (http://spoti.fi/12egbcs); have a listen, let me know what you think and what you might add.
Now to the hard part: the cast. My two main characters, Taylor and Justin, are so clear to me, which makes finding people to represent them very difficult.
Taylor is half-Chinese. There are not a great many half-Chinese British actresses (in fact I had difficulties casting all of my ethnic cast members, which is a sad indictment of the industry). In fact the only one I could think of was Katie Leung who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise.
A little more research threw up Yifei Liu, a very beautiful full Chinese actress. Both are technically too old now to play Taylor, but as a few of my other actors err on the older side, I decided to allow it.
I was torn between the two, but as Katie is a Scot and I’d quite like to see her play someone bad-ass, I decided to cast her. So here is Katie Leung as Taylor Oh:
Next, my male lead, Justin. For him I have cast Andrew Garfield. Although the actor was born in LA, he has a British mother and moved to Surrey when he was three, so I have no worries about his British accent. He has Justin’s eyes, build and hair and having seen him in Spiderman I think he’d do justice to the part. I also think he and Katie make a lovely looking couple.
Taylor’s best friend, with the ever changing hair is quirky, sweet and believes wholeheartedly that the ‘truth is out there’. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives: her mother is a drunk and brings home a series of boyfriends. Hannah has to maintain the house as well as keep up with her school work. I cast Juno Temple, who was born in England into a showbiz family and has a lovely fragile, ethereal, quirky but tough quality that I feel really exemplifies Taylor’s best friend.
Tamsin should have been easy to cast (a blonde bitchy type shouldn’t have been a problem), but I actually did have difficulties, because Tamsin is deeper than that. She is Taylor’s opposite, but also her twin (Tamsin means twin), she is the Yin to Taylor’s Yang. Tamsin hides her real self behind a veneer and has also been in love with Justin. She is Taylor gone wrong. I was looking at Abigail Breslin for the role of Hannah (I remembered her from Signs) but had discounted her because she was American. Then I saw pictures of her now (she is older and has gone blonde) and thought, wow, she could definitely play Tamsin. In the book Tamsin puts on a fake US accent because she thinks it’s cool, so I have no problem casting an American actress for this part. I’d like to see this actress play a bad guy and I think she’d bring a real depth to her.
Pete is another one I had trouble with. It isn’t easy to find young black British actors on IMDB. Then I remembered Attack the Block. The main actor in that, John Boyega, was incredibly nuanced (and gorgeous). That moment at the end where you find out that he is only fifteen and has cartoon bedding is just heart-rending. So he had to be my Pete.
Pete plays the tough guy, but he has been damaged by all the things he has done with James and Tamsin. He was in love with Taylor and resented her for rejecting him; that led him to join the group tormenting her. Yet Taylor remains loyal to Pete to the point of self-sacrifice. Pete is a boy with a lovely smile and I’m a bit in love with him.
The real baddie in the group is James: a blonde haired, blue eyed monster who looks like a good guy. He takes in all the adults, but not Taylor. His dark underside is as black as the terrifying darkness itself which ultimately comes for Taylor and takes her away. Freddie Stroma is a British born actor, perfect for James. He is a little older than I’d like, but looks the part and has a degree in Neuroscience, so I’m impressed.
The final cast member that I’m going to include is Taylor’s dad, Gabriel. For this one I like Rufus Jones. He’s a British actor best known for comedy, but he was a friend at University and if you can’t cast your friends in fake movies, then who can you cast?
I think this would make a fantastic movie. Having been anxious about it I think I have come up with a brilliant cast: hugely talented, reflective of the qualities I like in my characters and a lot of fun. Do let me know what you think.