Mary Jo Putney’s “Fallen Angels” trilogy (that happens to be seven books long) was among the very first romance novels I ever read. It’s also one of the historical series I’ve reread the most times, so it's naturally the one I'd try my hand at fantasy casting.
Thunder and Roses
The “gypsy earl” hero Nicholas Davies is half-Romany, and if it were me making a movie, I’d want to stick to someone with Romany heritage. Also, since this is fantasy, I felt perfectly justified in choosing an actor who is probably a tad too old for the part. However, behold Nikolai Slichenko!
Meanwhile, heroine Clare Morgan is a Welsh schoolmistress. I couldn’t resist casting Welsh actress Eve Myles.
Petals in the Storm
Rafe Whitbourne has to be both sensual and sardonic. At first I thought my choice might be too old for the part, but then I decided I didn’t care; Rafe should be Jason Isaacs. He would be sensational in this part.
Margot Ashton’s incredible beauty and shrewd intelligence made me think immediately of Sophia Myles. It’s not a coincidence that she’s also played Madame De Pompadour.
Dancing on the Wind
Heroine Kit Travers has a mystical connection to her twin, Kira, though in most other things she’s very down-to-earth. I think Louise Lombard is a good fit.
Lucien Fairchild is blond, aristocratic, and given the nickname “Lucifer” for his beauty. Alex Pettyfer does the trick.
The character of Maxima Collins is half Mohawk, so again I looked for performers who shared that heritage. Though she’s a dancer and choreographer rather than an actress, in my fantasy cast Santee Smith would not only look the part, but play it beautifully.
Meanwhile, Robert “Robin” Andreville is angelically gorgeous but also emotionally in rags from years spent as a spy against the French. Pretty blond men are easy to find, but to bring the angst as well, I went for Paul Bettany.
For some reason, I have strong mental pictures of the characters in this novel. Michael Kenyon is tall and angular with a brooding expression. Catherine Melbourne has smooth dark hair and a face in the style of a Renaissance Madonna. My mental images were so strong that I didn’t go back to the actual text to see if I was remembering correctly.
For Michael, Mark Strong came to mind, both because of his looks and because of his voice. If you doubt me, check out his tortured grimness in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
For Catherine, I picture Alexandra Roach, for her clear-eyed gaze as well as her resemblance to my mental picture of the character.
River of Fire
Kenneth Wilding, spy and painter, was the trickiest character on this list for me to cast, despite the fact that I’ve reread this book of the series several times more than any of the others. I finally chose Michael Sheen because he’s not your typical gorgeous actor; nor is Kenneth quite so over-the-top beautiful as some of the other Hellions.
Bohemian artist Rebecca Seaton, for me, is definitely Gemma Arterton. I can easily picture her playing Rebecca losing her temper.
One Perfect Rose
Stephen Kenyon is the elder brother of Michael from Shattered Rainbows, so it was fun to try and find two actors with some sort of resemblance. I finally went with Benedict Cumberbatch. Even though he’s a younger actor than Mark Strong, he has a deep voice as well, and I’ve seen him beautifully play aloof characters, particularly in “War Horse.”
For Rosalind Jordan, I went with Kimberley Nixon, whose sweet smile and oval face seemed perfect for the part, and a good contrast with Cumberbatch.
Okay, now tell me where I went wrong!
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.