1. Bradley Whitford and Chloe Grace Moretz as Jim and Sylvia (The Vacationers, by Emma Straub)
“Families were nothing more than hope cast out in a wide net, everyone wanting only the best.”
I was surprised when I looked up reviews of The Vacationers after finishing it and saw such negative reactions to it. A recurring complaint seemed to be a major dislike for the characters. Maybe I’m weird, but I didn’t have too much trouble with the characters, and found the book very easy to sink into. I didn’t love it, and it’s not exactly a happy story, but it just felt nice to like a book enough to read it without any annoyance or mental blocks.
Bradley Whitford came into mind as Jim within the first chapter of the book. As an older father just wanting to fix the problems he’s brought upon his marriage, Jim strikes up memories of both Josh Lyman and Carmen’s dad in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I don’t mean this offensively, but the fact that Jim is now past his professional prime and has to accept that totally reminded me of Whitford and any other actor who has been on an iconic TV show and now doesn’t show up in much. I think Whitford portrays determination and a sort of resignation very well, making him ideal for Jim.
Sylvia is a bit of an awkward teenager wanting to be cool and glamorous, and what other teen actress does that as well as Chloe Grace Moretz? She’s getting older, so playing Sylvia could be the finale of her stint of teenage roles. I’ve seen her as many girls who dance around the truths they’re feeling, and that quality captures Sylvia very well.
2. Milo Ventimiglia as Milton Stephanides (Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides)
“Milton got out before many of the things that I will not include in this story, because they are the common tragedies of American life, and as such do not fit into this singular and uncommon record. I like to think that my father’s love for me was strong enough that he could have accepted me. But in some ways it’s better that we never had to work that out, he and I. With respect to my father I will always remain a girl. There’s a kind of purity in that, the purity of childhood.”
So I didn’t realize that Milo Ventimiglia is 39 until I Googled him for the correct spelling of his name. That’s a little strange to think of, but knowing it actually helps him fit this character even more in my mind. I love this book because of its multi-generational stories and how it passes through time, following the same characters over many years. It’d be perfect if time machines existed and Milo circa Gilmore Girls Season 2 could actually play the teenage Milton and revert to the present to play adult Milton, but I would be satisfied with just the adult portrayal.
Milton loves his family, but has a fragile relationship with his parents and their strong Greek Orthodox background. He strives to achieve the American dream for his wife and kids, and neglects his own history in the process. Jess on Gilmore Girls is initially nothing but an untouchable tough guy, but has so much going on underneath that only certain people can draw out of him. Ventimiglia played a hard and soft Jess at various points in the series, and Milton also explores those two extremes in Middlesex.
3. Jessica Raine as Ursula Todd (Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson)
“Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn’t even begin to solve.”
God, this book is amazing. I’m severely due for a reread. I don’t like to explain this book too much, because I feel that you get the most out of it if you go into it fairly out of the loop. I will give up the following: Ursula is a character put into extremely different scenarios, and her personality shifts in each situation. The story takes place throughout both World Wars; while Call the Midwife takes place in the late ’50s and early ’60s, I think that Jessica Raine has the perfect look for this story. She’s acted both meek and strong on the show, covering the wide spectrum of Ursula’s persona perfectly. I think her acting can also be perceived as mysterious sometimes, a characteristic Ursula definitely carries at certain moments.
What about you? Are there any actors that just screamed out to you as a certain character when you read a book?