When a movie — say, The Hunger Games — is adapted from a book, the filmmakers have a ready-made description of how the characters should look. Sometimes, they follow it to the letter; other times, they take creative license. In his illustration series The Composites, filmmaker and digital artist Brian J. Davis enters descriptions of famous literary characters into the same kind of composite-sketch software that police use to draw pictures of suspects. Compare those characters to their movie versions (as the art website My Modern Met did this week), and things really get interesting. Check out some examples below!
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
When Jennifer Lawrence was cast as the teenage dystopian heroine, there was some controversy over the natural blonde taking on a character described in Suzanne Collins’ novel as having “straight black hair, olive skin,” and “gray eyes.” Nevertheless, she’s a pretty good match for her composite sketch.
Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey
In the E.L. James novel, narrator Anastasia describes Christian Grey’s “unruly dark copper-colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly.” This film still of Jamie Dornan in the role shows that his hair was anything but “unruly,” and his ex-model features don’t possess quite the severe quality that Anastasia describes in passages like this one: “He’s watching us like a hawk, his eyes hooded and speculative, his mouth a hard, impassive line.”
Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the the Dragon Tattoo
Here’s a pretty clear example of a director taking pains to make sure his leading lady (in this case, Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s adaptation) looked exactly like her character in the book. Salander was described by author Stieg Larsson as a “pale, skinny young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows. She had a wasp tattoo about an inch long on her neck…On those occasions when she had been wearing a tank top, a dragon tattoo can be seen on her left shoulder blade. Her natural hair colour was red, but she had dyed it ivory black.”
Jack Torrance from The Shining
Stanley Kubrick’s horror film and Stephen King’s novel diverge in many ways, and the appearance of lead character Jack Torrance (played in the film by Jack Nicholson) is just another example. King described Jack as “a small, balding man in a banker’s suit and a quiet gray tie,” with bow-shaped lips and a fair complexion, whose “eyes were far away and cloudy” and whose hair hung in his eyes “like some heavy animal. A large dog… or a lion.”
To see all of Davis’ composite character sketches, go here.
(Images: Brian Joseph Davis/Everett)