Now that I’ve gotten some feedback from my beta readers, I’ve finally begun the rewriting process on my most recent screenplay, the romantic comedy Roommates. Yet one of the questions that I kept being asked was, “So, who do you envision playing these characters?”
I can’t speak for any other writers, but when I write, yes, I do picture certain actors in these roles. It helps me imagine the story and, more importantly, the characters. OK, here we go:
Chiara Spivey, played by Laura Harrier
Chiara is my script’s protagonist. She works in public relations, and is driven, whip-smart young woman trying to make her way in NYC. I pictured Harrier in the role even though I’ve never seen her work before. Yet after spying her the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, I thought to myself, “Yup. That’s Chiara.”
Lennox Chase, played by Tristan “Mack” Wilds
Lennox is, essentially, the love interest, and that’s why I picture Wilds in the role. Look, he first gained notice from being on HBO’s classic series The Wire and has grown into a talent deserving of leading man status. Something tells me he’s gonna be big, and something also tells me he’d be perfect as the suave, successful Lennox.
Brian Haynes, played by Tyler James Williams
If Lennox is the story’s love interest, Brian is its “Bellamy.” What’s a Bellamy, you ask? Well, in his awesome book Writing the Romantic Comedy, screenwriter Billy Mernit defines the Bellamy as the “wrong guy” or “wrong gal,” and the role is named for famed character actor Ralph Bellamy, who happened to play this type of role a lot in his early career (although most of y’all will remember him as Randolph Duke from Trading Places). In any case, I think Williams would be awesome as the sensitive, disco music-loving Brian.
Grace Pelayo, played by Awkwafina
I always thought of Grace, Chiara’s best friend, to be of Asian/Latina mixed heritage. Why, I dunno. And it’s not as if the character is written with any specific background in mind — I mean, we could cast any generic white woman in the role and nothing would change. But yeah, I kept picturing someone like Awkwafina, aka Nora Lum, in the role. She’s another person I think is headed for superstardom, especially after the currently filming Ocean’s Eight is released next year.
Sarah Schechter, played Kathryn Hahn
I love Kathryn Hahn. I think she’s absolutely hysterical, and I think she’s the perfect choice to play Sarah, the no-nonsense head of the PR firm that employs Chiara.
George and Martha Wolfe, played by John Witherspoon and Jenifer Lewis
They’ve only two small scenes, but George and Martha are very important characters in Roommates. They’re a wealthy couple who serve as Lennox’s clients. The roles would give these actors the opportunity to chew some scenery and bring their trademark humor to the characters.
Paprika, played by Cardi B
If Brian is the “wrong guy,” the Paprika is the “wrong girl.” I liked writing this character a lot, and while I’m not all that familiar with Cardi B, what I do know makes me think she’s do wonders with this small, but pivotal and humorous, role.
And so there you have it. If I had the power to greenlight and cast this script, these are the folks I’d approach first. Gee, that was fun. Maybe I’ll do something like this again for future scripts — or maybe even for my books. Whooooaaaa.