When we wrote about the rumor that Emma Watson could be cast as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey this morning, the majority of responses were violently opposed. But only a few commenters took exception to Emma being a Brit or not innocent-seeming enough to play the virginal Ana. Most people argued that… she doesn’t have blue eyes, and that’s what makes her unfit to play the movie’s female lead. For instance:
Weirdly enough, we got a similar comment a few weeks ago, on a post about casting Finnick Odair. Although I said I wouldn’t mind seeing an actor of color portray the Catching Fire star, our commenters seemed pretty set on him being white, and especially on his eyes:
Literally, our readers are arguing against the single most fixable aspect of the situation. You’d think they had never heard of colored contacts! Or wigs! Or any other piece of Hollywood magic to transform an actor into the role as envisioned by the author/screenwriter/adoring fans. But instead, they seem to want someone who naturally fits the varied features of a fictional character.
Remember a year or so ago, when Jennifer Lawrence got cast in The Hunger Games and all people could talk about was that she was blonde and fair-skinned? Of course, the skin issue was wrapped up in the fan theory that Katniss wasn’t white… but Jen’s blonde hair got a lot of flack, too. Once she showed up on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with her hair dyed an appropriate brunette, however, the fracas died down. She’s since switched back to her natural color for promotional tours, and no one complains anymore.
You can take the debate back even further to another beloved franchise: Harry Potter, and its blue-eyed star Daniel Radcliffe. As a kid, I remember the uproar over the fact that Warner Bros. had cast this adorable kid who was a dead ringer for Harry in every way except having his mother Lily’s green eyes. As I remember, the colored contacts would irritate Dan’s eyes to no end, so he couldn’t wear them; and it would’ve been either too expensive or just too pointless to have editors going through every shot of every movie to digitally change the star’s blue eyes to green. If you want to know Dan’s opinion on this, just watch the first ten seconds of this video and the part where he gets to describing Harry’s eyes:
When looking back on the series and the movies, author J.K. Rowling and Dan had this sweet exchange where it was revealed that she had given the go-ahead to not worry about his eye color in the movies:
Rowling: But I also remember, right back at the beginning when you were cast I remember David Heyman calling me up and saying, “We’ve tried green contact lenses. We can digitally alter his eye color in post production. How important is it that his eyes are green?”
Radcliffe: That I will thank you for.
Rowling: And I said, um, “The only really important thing is that his eyes look like his mother’s eyes. So if you’re casting Lily, there needs to be a resemblance, but they don’t absolutely have to be green.” “Oh thank Christ,” he said. Were the lenses that awful?
Radcliffe: There is a very small percentage of people apparently who have a very extreme reaction to contact lenses. And I was one of them.
Rowling: You poor thing. I feel really bad.
Radcliffe: No, don’t worry! It was 10 years ago. It was really fine.
If J.K. Rowling didn’t care about her character’s supposedly iconic eyes changing color, I think it’ll be OK when Emma Watson — or whoever! — takes the role of Anastasia. Let’s also not forget that since E.L. James modeled Ana after Kristen Stewart‘s Bella Swan, and since Kristen isn’t being cast, already you’re not going to please most of the book’s readers. And really, finding a hot guy who can “act” (i.e., play Christian’s childhood abuse bullshit) and who has gray eyes will be nigh impossible. So you might as well ditch that dream now.
Photo: Warner Bros.