Monday, January 9, 2012

Armie Hammer, Finnick Odair And The Fan Hive Mind

Cross-posted on

Casting fan favorite properties has always been a beloved past time of mine, and I know I'm not alone. Especially when it comes to expansive universes (Game of Thrones) or casts that need actors of such a specific age that the best folks for the job are in constant rotation (Marvel's Runaways). Growing up in a media heavy environment, I am one of those folks whose brain tends to cast an actor immediately, if possible, to aid with the storytelling process when I'm reading. I know fans who disagree with this notion and don't even see adaptations so as not to tarnish their personal vision of who the characters are. Although I don't function that way, I admire that staunch loyalty to the written word. But for the fans out there who live to see something they love brought alive on the big screen, casting is major, and it's rare that we all universally agree that it has been done correctly. Even though most Captain America fans are on board with Chris Evans now, that was certainly not the case when he signed on. Same with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in the Hunger Games.

Which brings me the strange Hive Mind experience that occurred as I was finally reading Catching Fire this past week. There I was imagining Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Huchinson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland in their respective roles, doing a great job, surrounded by mostly faceless blobs representing the other characters, my brain not finding it necessary to cast anyone particular yet, when all of a sudden I got to the character of Finnick Odair. The dashing charmer with a touch of cheese, the prince charming-ish looker who everyone assumes is a player, the classically beautiful golden skinned hunk. For some reason, my brain immediately went to Armie Hammer. Armie Hammer? He doesn't necessarily have golden skin. He certainly doesn't have bronze hair, though I suppose that could be fixed. But my mind had made its decision. Finnick would be played by Armie Hammer in my imagination and nothing could stop that. So I continued reading. And man, was Armie good. His build was perfect, so tall and muscular, his voice and eyes seamlessly making the transition from smooth and pompous to genuine and heroic. It felt so right in my bones.

So naturally, I took to Twitter to see what other people thought. Simply asking the question "Who did everyone cast as Finnick when reading Catching Fire?" and I was surprised to see multiple people respond, you guessed it, Armie Hammer. This was baffling to me. He doesn't really have golden skin or bronze hair. And yet so many of us went straight to his face. And then, the kicker. I was directed to this Facebook page: Yes, that's right. Completely unbeknownst to me when I randomly cast Armie Hammer as Finnick, there is already a Facebook movement going to get him cast. Not only that, but any Finnick page I could manage to get to while still avoiding spoilers, had Hammer in the profile picture or taking up a lot of space in the "Who should play him" section, easily more so than anyone else.

What does this all MEAN? Why did so many of us see someone, THIS someone, in this role immediately? Mirror Mirror, in which Hammer plays a prince, hasn't come out yet, and even if it had, when we first meet Finnick, we don't think of him as a genuine hero, we think of him as kind of smarmy. It's not like Hammer's role in The Social Network had anything in common with Finnick except, what, being popular? Normally if something like this happens, it's at least because the actor in question had just played a role of the exact same type. But this is not the case here.

To me, this is no doubt an example of the Hive Mind. Of course, unlike the Borg, we fans have our own individual identities and lives, but somehow, in this particular case, our brains linked up and decided collectively who should play the role of Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games. In all my years of being a fan and fantasy casting, something this peculiar and specific has never occurred before. The closest I've seen is Zach Levi circa Chuck season one for Yorick in Y: The Last Man, but that was because Chuck practically *was* Yorick, and in any event, that ship has long sailed. Perhaps none of this seems that bizarre or interesting to you, readers, but experiencing all of this myself hasn't happened before and I think it's pretty damn cool.

So this leaves me with one simple plea to whoever is casting Catching Fire. Though he may not seem totally right for the role, I encourage you to at least audition Armie Hammer for Finnick Odair. You don't want to see the Fan Hive Mind angry.