Casting call – Just Friends With Benefits

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I had Good Morning America on in the background.  I was bummed about missing The Facts of Life reunion by mere minutes because I took extra time shaving my legs in the shower. Since I usually watch The Today Show, I went to change the channel but stopped in my tracks when I heard the “Cotton Song.”  You know the song, right?   ‘the touch.  the feel. of cotton. The fabric of our lives’.   Catchy jingle.  But it wasn’t the song that detained me from switching channels; it was who was singing it – Zooey Deschenal.  

I always stop when I see Zooey.  I don’t have a girl crush on her (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but Zooey Deschenal is who I cast as Stephanie Cohen in Just Friends With Benefits when it ultimately gets made into a movie. Or a television show.  I would actually prefer a television show because I would enjoy seeing Stephanie and her group of friends on a weekly sitcom.  And although Stephanie was the “star” of the book, the television show would be an ensemble cast with Stephanie, Paul, Jess, Hope, Eric and Hille having equal footing.  What fun!  I have spent many a session on the treadmill dreaming up different episodes.  There is even a musical episode but it would be WAY better than Grey’s Anatomy.  Not sure I could top Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the help of Josh Whedon and maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar.  (SMG was on the short list for the Stephanie role but I ultimately chose Zooey.)  Anyhow, ever since I designated Zooey to play Stephanie, even if she’s playing April in 500 Days of April or Allison in Yes, Man, I automatically associate her with Stephanie and feel somehow connected. 

You might wonder what it was about Zooey that made me choose her for the role of Stephanie.  There are several reasons.  For one thing, she’s in the right age bracket, maybe a few years younger.  Also, she’s pretty without being drop-dead-gorgeous or intimidating.  Although she’s more ‘waif-like’ than Stephanie (who was not overweight), let’s face it, most actresses are smaller than “real” people!  Zooey is quirky and fun to watch and I think Stephanie was quirky and fun to read. And I like that Zooey is famous but not “star of every romcom, cover of every magazine famous” yet.  Maybe Just Friends With Benefits can be her break-out role!!  Of the other actresses I considered, including the aforementioned Sarah Michelle Gellar (too sophisticated), Ellen Page (too young) and Anne Hathaway (too obvious), I thought Zooey was the best fit. 

If you’re still reading this, you might think I banged my head against the wall one too many times or that one of my older sisters dropped me on the cold tile kitchen floor when I was a baby. As if Zoooey Deschenal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the chick from The Princess Diaries would ever even audition for a role in Just Friends With Benefits.  As if Just Friends With Benefits will ever be made into a television show!  Or a movie.  Trust me, I’m not banking on it.  I still get excited when a new review is posted from a total stranger on Amazon or when someone adds the book as a “to-read” on Goodreads!  I’m not getting ahead of myself.  But it’s fun to dream.  I started casting the show before I even finished writing the book, certainly before it was published.  And the members of my family all have different ideas as to who would play the roles.  I’m pretty positive that even the most grounded of first-time authors has dreamed about her book being made into a movie even though it doesn’t happen for most of us.  And I’m sure Emily Giffin had her own ideas as to who would play Rachel and Darcy in Something Borrowed and had no idea that someday (next month!) the book would be made into a movie and that Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin would be cast in the starring roles.  For every book that has ever been written, there is probably a writer who dared to dream it would someday be made into a movie.  And now I have joined the ranks with my future Emmy winning cast: Zooey Deschenal (Stephanie), Oliver Hudson (Hille – he’ll have to quit Rules of Engagement), Rachelle Lefevre (Jess – the redhead girl from Off the Map – it will be cancelled by then anyway) and James Marsden (Ryan – maybe…).  The rest of the book remains uncast.  For now.   

If you’ve written a book and dared to dream about the actors/actresses who would bring the story to life (or even just wondered who would play ‘you’ in the movie of your life), leave a comment and let me know.  I know I’m not alone out there!


  1. Jeff Salter on April 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Actually, I’ve done this exercise, but more from the standpoint of which actress or actor my protagonists look like … rather than who might play them on-screen.
    For example, my character Kelly R. (in my first three novels) very much resembles a younger Diane Lane … but has shapelier legs and bigger, uh, bosoms. But Diane Lane would not be able to play my Kelly, because that actress is already nearly 20 years older than Kelly is.

    Now, I do have somebody in mind to play my most recent protagonist (Kristen P.) in my 6th completed novel ms. That blonde girl in ‘Mama Mia’ could play Kristen very nicely.

  2. Meredith on April 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Amanda Seyfried – good one. Of course, I haven’t read your manuscript but I’m sure it’s a good choice – I like her. I have no idea who would play the protag in my second novel yet. More to think about on my runs!

    Glad to know I am not the only one who does this. I didn’t think so…

  3. Camille on April 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Meredith
    I completely agree with you! Zooey would be perfect as Stephanie!
    :)Camille (who dreams about who would play her characters all the time)

  4. Linda on April 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

    My co-author Shelley and I cast our first book, Mr. What If, even before I started writing it (and we’re doing it now with our second one), because it helps me to have faces in my head when I write. I even put together a little posterboard with the characters’ “photos” that I could look at while I wrote. Kelly, our main character, is an actress named Darby Stanchfield. Matt, one of her romantic choices, is American Idol’s Lee DeWyze in my head (but I actually want him to be Zachary Levi from the show “Chuck” in the movie), and Dan, the other hero, is Mark Consuelos (Kelly Ripa’s husband).

    And I adore Zooey Deschanel. She’s my husband’s Hollywood crush, and I don’t mind a bit because I like her so much. I’ll be first in line for the movie or the TV show, Meredith!

  5. Meredith on April 13, 2011 at 9:53 am

    The posterboard idea is a good one, Linda! I’m too lazy for that…

    I love Lee DeWyze – I think he’s sexy. It’s funny, I’m not attracted to either of the men I cast as romantic leads in my book – I think they are good looking but not my own crushes. Maybe for my next book, I’ll create a character purposely so I can cast Bradley Cooper in the lead.

    Camille – I’m glad you agree with me, since you definitely know the book well.

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  6. Marjorie on April 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I think it’s safe to say we all wonder who would play “us” in the movie of our life. You’re not crazy, although I’m not denying the possibility that Melissa dropped you on your head as a baby. I surely did not (;. It’s funny, I had everybody in JFWB pictured in my mind while I was reading it before and after its publication, but now having had the honor of reading book #2 I can’t get those characters out of my head. And I admit I’m not a fan of Zooey. Too bad Emily Giffin got to Ginnifer Goodwin first. I’d have loved her as Stephanie. And I see Jake Gyllenhall as Ryan.

  7. Meredith on April 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    That’s funny Margie, because I sort of see Ginnifer Goodwin as Jane, although she might be too thin. I’m having much more trouble casting book #2 so we’ll have to talk. You know, just in case!

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