There has been much speculation over the casting choices for Sony Pictures upcoming 2012 film The Mortal Instruments, from Cassandra Clare’s Young Adult series. The other night Screen Gems revealed its casting choice for Jace, a favourite character of fan girls everywhere (including this one). Jace will be played by Jamie Campbell Bower, who has had parts in Sweeney Todd, New Moon, and the final Harry Potter film… and with that simple announcement the book world that lives inside of the internet exploded.Two days later the running opinion seems to be this – Jamie Campbell Bower is not “MY” Jace; the “MY” part, of course, being the definitive word from fangirls and boys around the world. Fans of Cassandra Clare have spent the last few days all over the internet expressing every thought from “Meh” to “disdain!!!” over this one casting choice. Of course we’re concerned, this is Jace ‘effin Wayland we’re talking about – one of the most beloved and lusted after character to hit paper in the last few years. Of course we’re sensitive and only want the best, but we, as fans, have to admit that we often put ridiculous expectations onto actors playing our favourites.
I, personally, am not mad at it. I don’t hate the casting choice at all. Upon realizing that Jace Wayland has been cast my immediate reactions were delight, and relief (thank the Gods it’s not Alex Pettyfer!). Plus excitement. Jamie Campbell Bower physically matches the description of Jace…at least the one I pictured… And he can actually ACT! (Praise the Gods!) But, more importantly, I think he can pull off the “Jaceness” of Jace…and you all know exactly what I mean by that statement. I have no idea what has everyone’s proverbial panties are in a twist save this – We, as readers, are very protective of him. We have all spent hours agonizing over him, wanting him and Clary to end up together, wanting him to win. We only want the best for our Jace. Well, to that I can only counter with this…
“He auditioned with Lily, and he and Lily had incredible chemistry that sort of blazed off the scene. I’m just sitting here watching this on my computer, and you know, he was not the only person they’ve ever sent me to look at. I’ve gotten lots of headshots and this and that, and I’m watching the audition and I literally started crying because that was my Jace and Clary on the screen. And it’s an incredible feeling to see that even as an audition. This is amazing. He was snarky funny where he needed to be snarky funny, and he was badass where he needed to be badass. And he and Lily were incredible together.”
– Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare has given her approval. When it comes down to it hers is the only real opinion that matters on the topic. In matters of film adaptation I always defer to the Author, and Clare loves him. We, as readers and fans, are all protective of him, as is Cassandra Clare as his creator. If she has given the ok on Jamie Campbell Bower as “her Jace” I am delighted with her choice. Who am I to criticize his maker?
…plus, at least it’s not Alex Pettyfer. thank the Gods!
I’ve worked in a bookstore for a while now. I read Cassandra Clare when she was a new author with a shiny, pretty book cover in my sort bin called City of Bones. When it came out I had just read the Twilight books for the first time and wanted something like it. So, I took COB home to see if it would fill the Twilight void in my heart. I finished it over the weekend and whinged for more. I loved the world that Clare had constructed. I loved the conflict, the characters, and the overall feel of the books. I wanted the next book. I wanted more of this world. When City of Ashes came out I did something I’ll never forget. I barricaded myself in my flat with groceries, redbull and the book and did something that no self-respecting person does in this day and age – I shut off my computer and my phone for the duration. I did not want to be disturbed or distracted by anything… and I read through the book in one day.
I am one of those people responsible for getting this book into your hands. I am the person who wrote a recommendation card for City of Bones that said “I like this book better than Twilight…You heard me!” to much horror and shock of my customer base. Apparently, I was speaking blasphemy. I challenged them to defy me when they were done with the Twilight books and wanted something like them.
To date many of these customers have returned to agree with me, save those who can’t get over the brother/sister plotline because it’s “icky”. To them I counter with “Ummm… Remember a little movie called Star Wars”?
Also – insert bragging rights here – I am one of the people who made this series a bestseller, I am responsible for getting it out into the world (in Lansing Michigan, at least). To date I have handsold in my store alone over 1,200 copies of the three books in various formats, and yes, I do keep records of sales. It may not seem like a lot but in the book selling industry you’re lucky if you sell more than 10 – 30 copies of a debut author’s hardcover per store and that’s pre-impact of e-readers. I’ve sold 1,200 plus. That is more copies sold than any Young Adult series, besides possibly Twilight, in the entire six years I have been a bookseller… pre-City of Bones movie zeal too.
… and, on the subject of Twilight, I have a thought.
Having worked in a bookstore since 2005 I was there for the build up of Twilight and I will be there for it’s downfall. I have survived Potterdamerung and will do the same for Twilightdamerung. It is interesting to see the highs and lows of book trends as they soar into glory and fade out of public existence. However, during the height of the Twilight fandom I began to notice an interesting thing that became the book Sociological experiment of the decade – How young girls, and grown women alike, reacted to the casting choice of Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan?
(Believe me, this tangent is relevant.)
We start with this, The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion for Twilight.
When the movie industry started to promo the film trailer for Twilight I assembled a table at the entryway of the Young Adult section of Twilight and Twilight-like themed merchandise; books, bookmarks, anything we had that I could sell in the pre-fervor to people wanting more. (I handsold the hell out of City of Bones during this time.) The Twilight Companion came in droves, and likewise sold in droves. But there was an interesting thing that happened with female patrons when they would leaf through it; an almost mutual, immediate disdain and loathing of Kristen Stewart as Bella.
“She doesn’t look right! She’s supposed to have redder hair!”
“Why did they cast her? She’s supposed to have shorter hair?!”
“Ewww! She’s not right. She’s blonder than this!”
The reactions were stunning, and about the same for every customer. Everyone agreed that Robert Pattinson was spot on (though my personal choice was for Gaspard Ulliel), but Bella was a flawed choice. And that she did not look how the world universally pictured her as a differently described woman. One woman even said she was supposed to be blonde even though Meyer described her as a brunette.
Bella, for the record, is described as this:
“Very fair-skinned, with long, straight, dark brown hair and chocolate-brown eyes. Her face is heart-shaped—a wide forehead with a widow’s peak, large, wide-spaced eyes, prominent cheekbones, and then a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips are a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line. Her eyebrows are darker than her hair and more straight than they are arched. She’s five foot four inches tall, slender but not at all muscular, and weighs about 115 pounds. She has stubby fingernails because she has a nervous habit of biting them.”
– from Stephenie Meyer’s website.
Why? Why the confusion on her physical appearance even though Meyer described Bella (at length)? About two weeks into the Twilight fandom I figured it out. Everyone was describing a different Bella because they were putting attributes to her physical character that were reminiscent of their own attributes. I noticed this when a regular of mine who is of African and White (Irish) descent complained. “I really thought she was medium skinned with short dark hair.” That’s when my brain made the connection – she was describing herself. Every woman who read Twilight placed themselves as Bella Swan because we all wanted Edward Cullen on some level. We wanted to be that girl so mentally we scrapped Meyer’s description and substituted our own, as ourselves for Bella Swan.
(For the record I thought Stewart was an apt choice, partly because I am a brunette with brown eyes… even though she naturally has green eyes. Just saying.)
So, how does this tangent relate to the casting of Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace ‘effin Wayland? Only in this – we cannot realistically capture the man who we dreamed of on-screen because every single one of us dreamed up a different Jace when we were reading this book. Jace is perfection incarnate. We all want him. We all want him to end up with Clary, and in tandem, with us as well (it’s hard to hate Clary, it’s much easier to replace Bella). But, we all want a very different “Him”. We wanted him taller, leaner, fairer, darker than he is. We imagined him to be a God, a Greek god certainly (he’s very flawed) but a God nonetheless… and the lion share of us are dashed to have our God represented by a mere mortal. Bottom line is this – none of us were going to be happy with the casting because it’s not who we pictured while devouring Clare’s spectacular book. In the end it does not matter. He is Jace. He has the role, and Clare approves, for a reason unknown to us. I, for one, am not going to disagree with the woman who breathed life into him. I’m just going to thank her for doing so.
At this point I am thrilled by whatever gets people reading these books and slightly stunned that the book I pictured as a movie in my head while reading it will, in fact, be a movie. A movie! For all you naysayers aren’t you happy that there will be a movie? I am. I’m thrilled! Casting Clary (Lily Collins) and Jace is merely the first step. The real challenge lies in compiling the rest of the components – a stellar cast, a decent script, phenomenal special effects, and a movie that matches the one we have all assembled in our own brains. Screen Gems, and Jamie Campbell Bower, you have your work cut out for you.
Besides.. it could be worse. It could be Alex Pettyfer.
*Update: The biggest hindrance that seems to continue to dog Bower seems to be his looks. I’ve been watching fan reaction since this hit the interwebs and the most common problem with him seems to be this – Jamie Campbell Bower is ugly. Really people? Really? Are we all that unbelievably shallow? I think this is mostly coming from the camp of Alex Pettyfer fans who are still smarting that he turned down the roll, because Pettyfer is more conventionally attractive. Alex doesn’t look the part to me personally, but that’s just me. I envisioned a more feminine Jace to begin with and Bower works in that capacity. Also, I personally don’t think Bower is ugly. I think he’s interesting, as in I would love to be able to use him as a figure model. I think I wouldn’t mind staring at him for two hours over my drawing pad, so why not two hours over a movie screen.
I was asked over and over again why I do not like Alex Pettyfer for Jace and I will boil it down to one simple phrase – I don’t like Alex Pettyfer because the man can’t act and we need someone who can act to carry off Jace. Bower can act. Enough said. Get over it.
I can’t wait to see how everyone turns on a dime when this movie comes out. It’s going to be rampant Twilight fandom all over again with Bower… remember the petition circling about to get Robert Pattinson removed from the Twilight movie? I do. Google it, you can find it very easily. I predict huge popularity for Bower the second the movie hits the theatres, but I do wonder how much of that will be new fans vs. old fans? Thoughts?
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