I love movies. I love the special effects, the score, the characters, and exciting plots. But I love the books that they are based on even more.

No one likes to go to the movies with me because I have this unnerving need to point out every movie playing that is originally based off a book.   People stare, friends shush me, as I repeat, “…based off a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, based off of a book by Ben Sherwood…”

I just feel like it’s my duty as a librarian and literature lover to inform movie-goers that what they are seeing was not originally created in some enormous studio; rather it was born in the quiet serenity of an author’s imaginative mind.

The most important part of these stories are the characters that we feel such a connection with, so when its announced that a popular book is being turned into a movie, the first thought is: Who will play the main characters?

The rise of social media has now forced movie producers to be vigilant in casting the roles of books-turned-movies. Blogs buzz about who will play the lead; will she be able to fill the role? Will he look like I imagined? Two of the most recent castings for big books-turned-movies have been heavily watched by literature and film fans alike.

The Help

Emma StoneI wasn’t but half-way done with The Help and it had already become one of my favorites. Kathryn Stockett did a marvelous job developing these traditionally southern characters and landscape that it will be hard find such colorful characters to bring the story to life. When I heard that the book was going to be made into a movie, know that it was a natural fit for a major motion picture, but wondered who is going to fill the shoes of the main characters? Everyone had opinions. (People magazine even revealed their dream cast.) I myself knew that Skeeter had to be a lanky red-head that you couldn’t help but love, and Abilene, had to have a soulful voice with a larger than life personality.

To my surprise, relatively unknown actress, Emma Stone, was selected to play the adored Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan. Viola Davis, known for her award-winning performance in Doubt, was selected to play Abilene.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Rooney MaraThe international phenomenon has already been turned into a movie in Larsson’s native Sweden, but its popularity has demanded an English version. Casting for was announced on Aug. 16, and the lead role for Lisbeth Salander was rumored to be between Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Carey Mulligan, and Scarlett Johansson. After much debate, it finally went to… Rooney Mara.


The young actor, who also appears in another book adaptation, The Social Network (known to the book world as The Accidental Billionaires), a film director by David Fincher, the same director for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Joining Mara will be Daniel Craig, cast to play journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Filming has yet to begin, but already fans are excited imagining how Mara and Craig will fill the shoes of Larsson’s intelligent hacker and sidekick sleuth.

While we might question filmmakers casting decisions, ultimately it is up to them to determine what will work best. In many instances, the decision is made to cast relatively unknown, young actors for heavily anticipated literature-turned-films. Movie goers have few previous performances to compare them to and it gives the actor a chance to make their mark on the film world. It makes you wonder, if an unknown Al Pacino was never cast in The Godfather, would we have ever known Tony Montana?

Lindsey Levinsohn is a collection development specialist for OverDrive.

One Response to “Who’s Rooney Mara?”

  1. Linda Hart

    The audiobook version of “The Help” is so spectacular that the movie has to be anticlimax. At least Octavia Spencer will recreate the role of Minnie in the film. Emma Stone does not look anything like my mental image of Skeeter–but who knows? I was thinking of a young Laura Dern. Nora Rawlinson, at http://www.earlyword.com, does an excellent job of tracking books being made into movies. I check her every day.