A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS: A dream cast by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Writing this book was a very visual process – the setting was inspired by places I’d seen and the characters were no exception. Here’s my starry cast list in case Guillermo del Toro comes knocking. These are not definitive interpretations – I’d love to hear yours!

Main parts

Isabella Riosse – Ayesha Kapur

Not going to lie – I struggled A LOT when it came to choosing my main character. Due to Hollywood’s chronic diversity problem it was hard to find an actor to fit the bill. Ideally it’d be someone like a young Rosario Dawson, somewhere between her Sesame Street appearance (no good pictures) and her performance on ‘Kids’ (by which time she’s a bit old and WAY inappropriate). I love it when films give big parts to actors I haven’t heard of before, and that’s why I’ve chosen Ayesha Kapur to play my main part.


She’s a Bollywood actress who shot to fame in ‘Black’, but is yet to make it big in the Western world. Isabella is based on my cousin, and that’s part of the reason I picked an Indian actress to play her role. Kupar’s too old to play Isabella now, but someone with the same charm and wonderment would be great! Think Cantica Utaru in The Fall, or Ivana Baquero in Pan’s Labyrinth.

Lupe – Quevenzhané Wallis


Anyone who’s seen Beasts of the Southern Wild knows why I chose Quevenzhané Wallis to take up the role of Isabella’s best friend. Wallis is a little short to play gangly Lupe, but aside from that her look is perfect. Wallis has a beautiful ability to switch between joyful giddiness and steely-eyed determination in a moment, and that is key to Lupe’s character, and the journey she goes on in the book

Pablo – Tyler Posey

It creeps me out when actors in their twenties or even thirties portray teenagers in films and on TV, but since writing the book I can see why. Though Pablo is a fifteen-year old (albeit a tall, strong one), I still found myself picturing adult actors when writing him, perhaps because I fell for him a little bit. In my head, he’s a perfect mix of Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo Santoro, but there aren’t many teen photos of them knocking around.


I’ve gone for Tyler Posey, of Teen Wolf fame. I’ve not seen him act, but his look is the right mix of sweet and serious. Pablo takes a while to open up, but when he does he’s a truly lovely character. But you can picture him any-which-way you want (he’s still a Rodrigo/Gael hybrid to me)!

Da – Hugh Quarshie


I saw Quarshie in Othello last year, and he’s a brilliant actor. I think he has the perfect gravitas to play Isabella’s Da, and his voice is gorgeous – perfect for telling Isa all those stories she loves so much! I envisage him as an older father, giving him plenty of time to go on adventures when he was young, so Quarshie would be the ideal age.

The Governor – Idris Elba


From Luther and The Wire to Beasts of No Nation, Elba has proved to be a startling actor. Though he’s a bit tall, I’m sure he’d pull off the multi-layered menace brilliantly. Governor Adori is one of the most complex characters in the book, and I’d love to see Wallis and Elba find their way through the father/daughter relationship.

Minor/cameo roles

Masha – Kathryn Hunter


I first saw Hunter in a production of Yerma, one of my favourite plays. More recently, she played Mrs Fig in the Harry Potter films. To be honest, this mix sums up Pablo’s mother perfectly.

Isabella’s mother – Giannina Facio


Giannina Facio OWNED the flashbacks in Gladiator, so who better to own the flashbacks as Isabella’s mother?

Senora Adori – Connie Neilsen


I clearly watched this film too much. Again, too tall but her aloof manner and detachment in Gladiator (which melts in her love interest’s vicinity) would be great for the Governor’s icy wife.

Pep – Oscar


The real-life inspiration behind Isabella’s ginger cat, seen here helping me write a draft of THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS.

Miss La – Internet chicken


This is a frizzle chicken, and Miss La is definitely a frazzled chicken. Google tells me they weren’t recorded in Joya’s part of the world until the 17th century, but Miss La made it somehow.


So there you have it! Some stars that would make THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS shine that bit brighter. If you have better suggestions (and I’m sure you do), please let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter: @Kiran_MH.

KiranMillwoodHargrave 5

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Kiran is 25 and writes poetry, plays and novels. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cambridge University, and graduated with Distinction from the Creative Writing MSt at Oxford University in 2015. She is an award-winning poet with three collections published, and her debut play BOAT opened to five-star reviews at Theatre N16 last year. Her debut MG novel The Girl of Ink and Stars will be unleashed from Chicken House’s coop in May 2016.


2 comments on “THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS: A dream cast by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

  1. Lucy Strange
    April 8, 2016

    LOVE this – gorgeous casting choices – makes me want to read the book NOW! (I especially love the chicken and the cat.)

  2. Pingback: Book birthday interview: Kate Ormand interviews Kiran Millwood Hargrave for THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS | AUTHOR ALLSORTS

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