…or are most book characters being made much older when they are brought to life in movies? I first started realizing this phenomenon when “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” came out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Logan Lerman (like a lot) and I think he did an amazing job playing Percy. He had the right looks, the right temperament, and the skills to handle a sword. But in the first book of the series, Percy is 12 years old. Twelve! Logan easily makes the character appear to be in the 16-18 age range (being that he was around that age during filming), which is definitely not in keeping with the story.
Isn’t the whole idea of a series to grow and learn with the characters as they grow up? Not just in books, but on TV as well? Take “Harry Potter” or “Boy Meets World” for example. You wouldn’t let an 11 year old start on book or season 5 would you? (And not just because they would have missed everything that happened before) Because doesn’t that defeat the purpose of learning something about the people as they learn about themselves? Why care about a character that you can’t relate to because of an age difference?
Not the mention the fact that it also gives the youth unrealistic expectations of how people at a certain age will look. For example, Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior are both played by women who are in their early 20s when their characters are 16. And while I enjoyed the portrayal by these wonderful actresses, I kept thinking they looked more like they were 18, which misses the boat on what being 16 and dealing with these crises can mean.
And now, a loved childhood classic, “The Giver” is being made into a movie and the main character, Jonas, definitely does not look like he is 12. Probably because the actor is actually about double that age. What is this phenomenon? Is it because film makes are trying to draw in a larger audience? Or because it might be troubling to see an actual twelve or sixteen year old in some of these fictional situations?
I think by making the characters older in the movies, or choosing older actors to portray them, we are actually losing a bit of what makes some of these stories so moving, breath-taking, and in some cases, disturbing. I don’t think the full impact of what the authors are trying to say is truly understood by the audience. I’m sure there is an explanation, reasonable or otherwise, for this but Hollywood sometimes just can’t leave well enough alone.