"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Casting Call: The Duke

Busy day. Tuesdays often are...my schedule today is different than usual, but still quite full.

Writing about real historical people has its advantages. If a person is well known--even if only in his or her lifetime--you can unearth all sorts of factual information about their habits, personality, activities, opinions. And it's possible to locate portraits. The characters in my work-in-progress often sat to painters, and my art research has been most enjoyable and informative.

When creating fictional characters I've also been inspired by portraits--or else by real life faces of actors, actresses, models, people I pass on the streets of London or spot on Underground trains.

Just for fun lately I've played around with faces, trying to match specific performers with my fictional characters, as though casting a film of my book. It turned out to be lots easier than I thought it might be. From time to time I'll share what I found here on the blog.

I'll start with the duke. This Kneller portrait was most likely painted a little before 1690, when he was in his late teens, possibly at the time of his military service with Emperor Leopold.

In my view the British actor (correct nationality is essential) who most fits the face in the portrait is Ben Barnes. Mostly because of the hair and the eyes and the complexion and the shape of his face. And he's got that indentation in his chin, which in the duke's case is rather more obvious in a later portrait by Kneller.

He looks right in fighting kit when performing in period films.

He can do remote and soulful.

And he's got quite a nice smile, too. (The duke had a sense of humour.)

Mind you, those look more like 21st century teeth than 17th/18th century teeth!

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