Look, I’m sure Shailene Woodley is a very nice person. What am I talking about? She could an awful person, I don’t know! But let’s examine what we do know: She is currently cast to star in all the YA movies and I’m having some feelings about it. Her top notch roles include Tris in the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, as well as the leading lady of Hazel from John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars. So I guess that’s not all the YA movies, but considering they could be two of the biggest films of the next couple years, it feels like a lot, enough for Teen.com to make this haunting April Fool’s Day gag about her even replacing Jennifer Lawrence in Mockingjay. (You just stop that, Teen.com.)
Now, neither Divergent or The Fault In Our Stars are specifically gay, but these characters are spectacular female roles, full of the strength, wit, and bravery that we want for women on screen. And while I know that caring about YA is suddenly a phenomenon that’s hitting all societal brackets — some folks are even starting to admit it’s not all just about vampires! — I really feel like lesbians have always had a particular soft spot for the genre. Like all minorities, youth are continually underestimated, misunderstood, unfairly criticized, beat up and spit out. In other words, we relate.
And we’ve had a lot of good things going for us in this children’s-and-YA-books-turned-into- movies sprint over the last few years: Emma Watson as Hermione! Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss! Everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower being surprisingly wonderful! Sure, Shailene Woodley was nominated for awards for that depressing movie she was in with George Clooney (The Descendants), and an indie film she co-stars in won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance this year (The Spectacular Now), and that all sounds impressive, and sure, John Green himself has given his full hearted approval. But can we forget about the 100+ of The Secret Life of the American Teenager she’s starred in? Not that the vile writing of that slut-shaming trainwreck of a fantasy show is her fault, but I just don’t want to mess this thing up!
So we must do what we always do at times like this: make stuff up to make ourselves feel better. If I could cast these movies on behalf of all my fellow lesbians, here are some tentative choices:
Lindsey Shaw as Tris in Divergent
The thing is — and I know this will sound horribly vapid — Woodley is just too pretty to be Tris. While Tris is just as badass as Katniss, and is similarly torn apart from her family in a futuristic society, she’s also different: less hardened, scared but adventurous, slightly more vulnerable but brave. Just look at Lindsey Shaw’s face! It’s not just pretty, it’s complex; there’s a darkness to it, somehow. Tris needs that darkness.
Of course, I must say that the rest of the Divergent cast is looking pretty darn spectacular. Maggie Q, otherwise known as Nikita, is playing Tori, the aptitude test instructor who helps keep Tris’s Divergent status on the down low. Zoe Kravitz will be playing Tris’s pal Christina, and while I have to admit I don’t know much about Zoe, she was in a Jodie Foster movie once (The Brave One), so there’s that. Most exciting of all, of course, is Kate Winslet cast as Jeanine Matthews, leader of the Erudite faction. I won’t say much about her character to avoid spoilers, but let me tell you it is a GOOD role and I am beyond psyched for the Winslet to play it. I’m also excited for Aaron Eckhart to play Andrew Prior, Tris’s dad, as Aaron Eckhart is typically good at whatever he does.
The other casting change I’d make, however, is in the role of Four, an instructor in the fearsome Dauntless faction who ends up being Tris’s love interest. From my calculations, there’s really no reason why Four has to be a guy, so why don’t we just make him be Naya Rivera instead. Cool? Cool.
Mae Whitman as Hazel in The Fault In Our Stars
While no one in Hollywood really fits the role of Hazel perfectly in my mind, I saw an idea kicking around earlier this year on the interweb of Mae Whitman in the role, and the more I think about it, the more I’m good with it. From her flawless performance as the angsty but hilarious teen-who’s-growing-up Amber in Parenthood, it’s clear that she could pull off the wry, deadly wit of Hazel that’s so essential to her character. You also might have heard The Fault In Our Stars is a bit of a sad book, and have you seen Mae Whitman cry? Holy moly, can she cry! As a bonus point, like all lesbians, the girl is obsessed with Tim Riggins. Ob-sessed. Which has nothing to do with Hazel, of course, but seems important nonetheless.
And just for fun, since we’ll probably never get to see Malinda Lo’s Adaptation in film form, which is a downright tragedy, let’s take a moment just to pretend we could. Now, Jenna-Louise Coleman being Doctor Who’s newest companion, Clara, and doing an absolute dashing job of it so far, and hence being of high priority in my current brain waves, had absolutely no influence on me picking her for Reese. Nope, not all. But I do think she could do a great job as the novelist’s bisexual protagonist. Although my belief in a blue-haired Lily Loveless as Reese’s girl crush feels even more certain. Come on, it’s been too long since she’s played a lesbian! And an eager lesbian this time, who may or may not have some otherworldly secrets.
Another big YA thriller turned movie that’s being released later this year is Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, but I actually haven’t read this one and so can’t give credence to the casting. Although being that Lena Headey has a piece of it, I can’t imagine there’s too much complaining from our side. I’m also pumped about the eventual movie of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, the screenplay of which Bray will be adapting herself. Filling the boots of the sassy Evie O’Neill will be another big act to fill, one that I’m tempted to just give to Jennifer Lawrence, but I guess Jennifer Lawrence can’t do everything because life isn’t fair.
So let’s have it, YA nerds, since I know you’re out there: if you could cast any actresses you wanted to in these films, who would you choose? What other books need to be made into movies right this instant?
(p.s. Shailene Woodley, if you turn out to be dazzling in every role you play, please accept my sincerest apologies.)