Lessons from Parenthood

I've watched parts of three different Steve Martin movies this week (two I just caught the last half because of when I turned the TV on). Parenthood is currently in our Instance Queue on Netflix because it is one of my favorite movies. A great ensemble cast in this movie, but it was watching this and the end of two other Steve Martin comedies that got me to thinking about character.

I'm one of those writers that casts actors in the roles of my character so I can visualize what they look like when I'm writing. I'll print up a headshot of a picture that I think suits the character and put it on my bulletin board to help me get back into character if I'm struggling. Often watching the role that made me think they would be good as my character can also help when I'm having a hard time. I know plenty of other writers that pick people they know or random people of the street. Other writers flip through magazines and cut out pictures that interest them: real people, actors, models, other public figures.

I have a hard time visualizing real people as my characters as I get too stuck into what the real person would do. For me, an actor, acts, so whomever I cast in the part then becomes the character in my head. Sometimes I fall on the correct person right away while other times I struggle with casting a different actor over and over (feel like I'm casting a movie at that point). But I need that image in my head or their voice feels false.

Steve Martin is the type of actor that I'd like to cast. He has a certain "type" of character he plays so if I have a character like that he would automatically pop into my head, but he also has the talent that he could play any type of character so if my character starts to veer away from that "type" I'd have no problem keeping the image of Steve Martin in my head.

What about you? How do you come up with or cast the characters so you can visualize them?


  1. one of my favorite movies!

    love the cowboy bday party :)

  2. The cowboy birthday party is classic, nothin' like bathroom mats as chaps. :-) My favorite scene is when Steve M asks his daughter if she thinks she needs to throw up. She says okay and the throws up on him. And the wife asks why he's just standing there. LOL


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