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When writing dialogue we all envision how it will actually sound as it's said aloud.
But do you write with a particular star in mind?
That is, do you imagine Robert Dinero speaking the words?
Or do you just keep your fictional character in mind as you write?
Is one way better than the other?
I tend to write with people that I know from real life in mind, because they are usually the basis of my characters. I've heard that writing with a specific actor in mind can be potentially bad because said actor may not want to commit to the project. Also, in cases like Last Action Hero, needing a specific actor for a role can give the actor in question an awful lot of power over the story, and not all actors have a good story sense.
I have done both, writing with people I know in mind and writing with an actor in mind. In both cases I never get specific enough to identify them but it helps me to picture their actions and hear the dialogue in my head. It works for me.
I do not write with any particular star in mind. Once I am finished, I look at the script, and I might wonder about an actor. My main concern, though, is representation and to sell that work.
I must confess, though, on my very first script, I did have a couple of people in mind. However, I don't look at it as my job anymore, since I wouldn't be getting any dough or favours for dream casting. My ultimate job is big enough -- to get that script on the big screen.
DON'T write for a star unless you can guarantee that star will be attached to your material.
If you pitch and that person isn't interested in your work, you're sunk. It's better to write from your heart THEN find someone to fill the role.
In the script I'm currently revising (and revising ... and revising!) a couple of crucial components of the main male lead were originally inspired by my friend Chris. But then I got sort of straitjacketed in the first draft or two because of that -- I'd always second-guess myself by thinking, "well, Chris really woulnd't do that," or "Chris once said such-and-such to me, and so I've got to work that into it," "Or this character's motivation in the film has to fit Chris' motivation in real-life."
The accompanying problem, of course, was that I therefore constantly saw the female lead as ME -- "well, I was motivated by such-and-such when Chris and I got into that one fight over this or that," "I would never let my boss at work get away with doing this or that," etc.
Needless to say, this wasn't getting me much further than a concrete wall against which i could bang my head. But then -- breakthrough! Among several of the radical mental/structural/dramatic shifts I made in revising the script, I "cast" the lead actor in my head (in this case, Ewan McGregor with an Irish accent).
Suddenly, the main lead was no longer the ghost of Chris ... he WAS a full, real character. I discovered tremendous amounts of new information about his motivations/background/deep dark secrets/etc. that really have nothing to do with Ewan McGregor ... but, just as importantly, they have nothing to do with my friend Chris.
Which means the female lead was no longer "me" anymore and in fact became a full-blown character of her own.
All of which means that now, three revisions into it, I think I've actually got a damn good script on my hands.
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