Casting the AAR Top Ten Romance Novels

ioanIn 2010 readers voted on their Top 100 favorite romance novels. Some of these have been made and remade into films, but many of the top 10 haven’t. Isn’t it time to give Hollywood a nudge and help the powers that be to cast the crucial roles in our favorites?

That’s today’s game: Cast the Top Ten.  Let’s start from number ten and work our way to the top. I’ll explain my picks, but the real question is whom you would cast in your favorite book.  In case you’ve forgotten who’s who in the books, there’s a link to the AAR reviews to jog your memory. And the actors’ names are linked to their IMDB pages.

#10 – The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley:  Obviously Lord Ian is crucial. After seeing Ioan Gruffudd in the movie Amazing Grace I’ve thought he was one of the most underused and under-challenged actor in the business. He would be perfect for Lord Ian. Beth, Lord Ian’s love interest, is a little more difficult since she must be understanding enough to take on Lord Ian and still show the weariness of being a widow. How I remembered Leslie Coutterand is beyond me. But she exudes the two traits I think are essential in Beth.

#9 – The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt: Edward is a challenge, so gruff and pock marked, but not too pock marked. My choice is Josh Brolin, especially after seeing him in the movie True Grit where I realized he could act so well I couldn’t recognize him. Edward would be a piece of cake for him. Anna needs to look small and wren-like, so my choice is Julie Delpy, who would not let him overpower her.

#8 – The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Okay, sue me. I have to put Matt Damon somewhere, and here seems to fit best. I think he could easily bring out Anthony’s devil-may-care yet vulnerable demeanor perfectly. Kate, however, needs to be strong enough that he doesn’t take over. So why not Eloise Mumford who has a kind of perky hardness to her?

#7 – Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh: This book is in my personal Top Ten, so I’ve thought a lot about who I would cast. Hands down my favorite for Wulfric (and the actor I see in my mind’s eye when I read the book) is Richard Armitage. Who else has nearly the nose? But whom to pair with him? My choice is Anna Paquin with the spunky self-confidence to peel away Wulf’s reserve and find his humanity.

#6 – Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale: This one’s difficult because Christian needs to retain his upperclass demeanor while being able to portray the struggle of a stroke victim. My nomination, Rufus Sewell, is another under-used actor who has played madmen and kings. Maddie, also, is a challenge to cast since she needs to be someone who can deliver the lines in Quaker speech without sounding so quaint and unreal that it becomes unbelievable that these two actually love each other. After seeing her in Temple Grandin and other excellent movies, I think Claire Danes would be up for the challenge.

#5 – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Jamie and Claire. Icons of romance. How can they be cast? Well, I’d like to see Jim Parrack tackle Jamie with Leighton Meester as Claire. They aren’t big box office names, but I think both of them would be brilliant.

#4 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Okay, this has been made and remade and then for good measure remade again and again. Hasn’t it been done to death? And who could possibly play Darcy and Elizabeth better than Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle? I’d like to see Alexander Skarsgard and Julia Stiles take a crack at the roles. Skarsgard’s reserve mixed with Stiles’ sassiness would enliven this classic.

#3 – Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas: Who could play someone dangerously handsome  better than Hugh Jackman? He looks aristocratic, but he can play someone with a dark side beautifully. Keri Russell as Evie has the innocent yet tough look that would balance the story and keep Jackman’s Sebastian from stealing the show.

#2 – Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas: Really, there’s no reason to like Derek Craven except for the fact that Kleypas makes him more than his background and street smarts. To play him calls for someone as strong and driven. My choice, Karl Urban, is another good, under-used actor who would be perfect for the part. To tame his alpha maleness, Sara needs to be someone who exudes serious intentness, whom audiences would believe carries and uses a gun during a time when women shouldn’t even know guns existed: in other words, Sophia Myles, another under-used but excellent actress.

#1 – Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase: I own this book. I’ve tried to read it several times, mostly when it appears in lists like this. But I’ve never been able to get past the second chapter. So while I’ve read and enjoyed the rest of the books on this Top Ten list, I have no casting for this book. Others will have to cast Sebastian and Jessica. I can’t.

Now it’s your turn. Whom would you cast for the lovers in your favorite romance? Inquiring minds would like to know.

-Pat Henshaw

This entry was posted in Books, Characters, Heroes, Heroines, Pat Henshaw, Romance and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Casting the AAR Top Ten Romance Novels

  1. Bombona says:

    So hard but here are a few of my choices:

    Devil in Winter
    Sebastian- Ruper Penry-Jones, he looks so amazing in period dramas, he is like the “Devil in Winter”
    Evie-Olivia Hallinan. she is so sweet and has that perfect look for Evie

    The Viscount who loved me
    Anthony- Sorry I just can’t think in anyone for this role, Anthony is my favorite hero of all times, is no one like him.
    Kate- Abby Cornish, every time I see her in “Bright Star” I think she will be the perfect Kate

    Dreaming of You
    Derek- Richard Armitage.
    Sara- Sophia Myles. totally agree with Pat

    Still have more to post, but for now is enough. Time to go bed here in Australia

  2. JBHunt says:

    How about Michael Fassbender for several of these hero roles — Anthony in Viscount, Jamie (or Dougal) in Outlander, Derek in Dreaming, or Dain in Scoundrels?

  3. AAR Sandy says:

    I’ve been saying for more than 10 years that Clive Owen is perfect for Derek Craven and that’s what I still think.

    Michael Fassbender is new on my radar and he was so fabulous as Mr. Rochester, that I can also see him as several of these heroes.

    I’ve thought Juliana Marguelies would be perfect as older Claire. And, sad to say, I would have loved to see Heath Ledger as young Jamie.

    Wait. I already wrote a blog about this. Never mind.

    • JBHunt says:

      AAR Sandy: I’ve been saying for more than 10 years that Clive Owen is perfect for Derek Craven and that’s what I still think.Michael Fassbender is new on my radar and he was so fabulous as Mr. Rochester, that I can also see him as several of these heroes.I’ve thought Juliana Marguelies would be perfect as older Claire.

      Sandy, I agree with both of these fabulous suggestions! Clive = Derek.

  4. xina says:

    I will have to think on the others, but I’ve always pictured Sela Ward when I think of an older Claire. Also, Simon Baker as an older…or mid aged Jamie.

  5. xina says:

    Oh…and couldn’t we have the adorable Jake Gyllenhaal play Lord Ian? It would be a bit out of the box for him, but I think he could stretch as an actor and do it. And for Beth…Rachel McAdams.

  6. Neeley says:

    Lisa Kleypas said a while back that she pictured Ryan Phillipe as Sebastian (Devil in Winter), and while I always think of him as too young, after seeing him in The Lincoln Lawyer, I think she’s onto something.

    Love Karl Urban as Derek Craven! Yes!

    Sebastian in Lord of Scoundrels? Liam Neeson would be my first choice even if he’s a bit old for it now, Christian Bale would be AWESOME if he was a larger man physically – we know he can be a howling, crazy, lunatic as well as a sexy, sweet lover.

    And I’m thinking maybe Anne Hathaway as Jessica. I know not everyone loves her like I do, but I think she’s got the smart, sexy thing down pat and she’s a good enough actress to pull off the “do NOT fuck with me” part of the character.

  7. AARPatH says:

    Sandy, LOL. I first went for Clive, but then I decided not to go for one of your picks, deciding to broaden the field a little. Besides, Clive (sigh) would probably be too old by the time someone decided to start filming the project. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to age!

  8. Eggletina says:

    I’d like to see Nathan Fillion in a western romance. Pretty, pretty please!

  9. Heather says:

    Don’t know about the casting for Outlander (can’t think of young actors strong enough); but for Voyager and later books, where C & J are older parents of adults, it has to be Susan Sarandon and Liam Neeson.

    The rest of them I can’t cast because I know how each character looks in my mind, and nobody looks like that except them! (grin)

    • Goosie says:

      Heather: In 2010 readers voted on their Top 100 favorite romance novels. Some of these have been made and remade into films, but many of the top 10 haven’t. Isn’t it time to give Hollywood a nudge and help the powers that be to cast the crucial roles in our favorites?

      I like Susan Sarandon as an older Claire a lot!

  10. Jen Tullis says:

    Karl Urban would be quite delicious!

    I’m not sure I agree with your picks for Outlander. For Claire, I’ve always pictured Juliana Marguelies or Lena Headey (although, here lately, I’ve been picturing Lena as Eve Dallas more than Claire). I never thought of Jim Parrack as Jamie, but he has potential. Simon Baker would be good as Jamie.

    And I’m with Eggletina, Nathan Fillion in a romantic western, well, be still my beating heart!

  11. kathy says:

    What a fun post Pat! Thank you. That was alot of work. Can’t agree about Jamie though. AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NEVER READ “LORD OF SCOUNDRELS”!! Were you joking?

  12. Jane says:

    I picture Armitage as Wulfric in Slightly Dangerous too! Might also explain why this book is in my top 5…

  13. Susan says:

    Skarsgard as Darcy? NNnnooooooooooo!!!! I’m still a huge fan of David Rintoul’s Mr. Dary back in 1981. Best Darcy ever!

  14. Suzanne says:

    I’ll take Michael Fassbender in ANYTHING! Love him!

    And I have to say that I have never quite understood what all the fuss was about with Lord of Scoundrels…I read it based on everybody’s opinion that it is the greatest, but I actually just found Sebastian to be a giant immature baby. I get why people like Jessica, but I really did not find and adult man prone to temper tantrums and bouts of feeling sorry for himself attractive in the least. Oh well, to each her own, I guess.

  15. Alison says:

    I have lurked here for years, never intending to de-lurk, but I could not hide behind my shrub any longer when I saw that you wanted to put Anna Paquin in one of my all time favourite novels. And with Richard Armitage, no less! Do you think you could take it back? Please? Especially if Hollywood calls and asks for your opinion? Nearly anybody else would be better, in my eyes; even Orlando Bloom, but most certainly Keeley Hawes.

    I mean, well done on nearly every other choice, really. The only exception being Skarsgard as Mr. Darcy…he is so scrumptious that it really isn’t fair to have him try and fill not only Colin Firth’s shoes, but Matthew McFadyen’s as well. Definitely unfair.

  16. Susan/DC says:

    Daniel Day Lewis is my choice for Edmund Waite in Mary Balogh’s “The Notorious Rake”. Don’t know who would play Mary, however. Jennifer Ehle would be good for the part, except that Mary is described as small-busted, which Ehle is not.

    And for any part where the hero is “a bit of rough” (e.g., Derek Craven), I always think of Sean Bean. He may not have the right hair color, but then, the character of Sharpe is described as dark-haired with a white badger stripe in the books, and yet SB made that role his own.

  17. Diane says:

    If only Hollywood would listen and make some of these movies. To me HUGH JACKMAN would make the perfect lead. With his shirt off in LOTS of the shots. I did loved Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester

  18. blah says:

    When he was younger, I always thought Brendan Fraser would be a good Jamie from Outlander

  19. I’m with you on LoS – I have made it to page 100 on my second attempt to read it. I found the dialogue forced … and perhaps I was too focused on the hype. Perhaps I would enjoy it as a movie.

  20. ddt says:

    How about Javier Bardem for Dain, he is tall, dark and has a big nose, and is an excellent actor.

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