From time to time, I have been asked, “just so I can get a picture in my head of what the different characters of The Angel Brings Fire series of books actually look like, can you describe for me, which well-known (e.g. ‘already famous’) actors or public figures, each character most resembles?”
I’m kind of reluctant to do this for the time-honored reason that when one reads a book (as opposed to watches a movie), half the point of the exercise is to imagine what you think the characters should look like, as opposed to having someone specify it for you. That being said, if you really must see pictures, I have tried to locate some that can be reviewed :
Book 1 : Angel of Mailànkh
Karéin-Mayréij a.k.a. the “Storied Watcher” : Think of Rebecca De Mornay in Beauty and the Beast. This is the nearest simile that I could come up with, but it’s not as exact as I would like; in fact, the ‘real’ Karéin is a little younger-looking, with bigger eyes (sort of like Zooey Deschanel in the movie Elf) and a slightly bigger forehead, however it’s as close as I can get with publicly-available images off the Internet. Note that in Book 2, her hair is ‘granny-gray’, not blond… and that she’s in fact considerably better-looking than the original Ms. De Mornay…
Sam Jacobson : Think of a younger Brian Denehy in Rambo (I) or perhaps (if you took a bit off the gut and got rid of the gray hair) in Cocoon (I). Jacobson is a big and heavy-set guy, but he’s still in good shape… as you will see when you get to Book 4!
Brent Boyd : This one’s easy. Think of Keir Dullea in 2001, A Space Odyssey. You don’t even have to imagine a change of uniform for him.
Devon White : Another pretty easy one; think of a young Will Smith or Eddie Murphy. Will Smith in Independence Day is almost a perfect fit.
Cherie Tanaka : Uh-oh… this one’s quite difficult, since I don’t know of a popular actress who looks a lot like the Mars mission’s Science Officer. I was able to find a picture of a San Franciso-based writer named Joyce Hirohata, who looks eerily like my own conception of this character.
Sergei Chkalov : Another one for whom there is a pretty close, pre-existing prototype in the movies; think of Elya Baskin (but when he was in his mid-20s to early -30s, not as he is now) in 2010 or in DeepStar Six. Note : Sergei Chlakov is a little leaner and more muscular than Elya, however.
Sylvia Abruzzio : (A minor character in Book 1, but a major one indeed in Books 3 and 4) : Perhaps the easiest of all to visualize; think of Cher in Moonstruck and you’re 99.99% on target.
Hector Ramirez : There haven’t been a lot of popular culture characters lately that closely map to my conception of Hector, who, like Sylvia Abruzzio, has a significantly larger role in the later Books than in Books 1 and 2. None the less, a young Benicio Del Toro (maybe add a few years to the face in this picture) will give you an idea of what Hector looks like.
Book 2 : Doubt Me Not
Bob Billings : Think of Beau Bridges in The Fabulous Baker Boys (maybe with a little thinner mane at the top) and you won’t be far off what ol’ Bob looks like. At other times I have pictured Billings like a young Ray Milland or a young Alan Arkin, as well.
Whitney Claremont : Margaret Avery in The Color Purple is a pretty close match. Note however that Whitney is not as, uhh, “full-busted” as is Ms. Avery and is generally pretty slim, almost gaunt, overall.
Melissa Claremont : A bit challenging because teenage African-American actresses are not individually as well known as some of their non-African-American counterparts; but Kylee Russell when she was about 14, would be a close match for the young Ms. Claremont.
Curtis Claremont : Another easy one — think of Gary Coleman as a kid on Diff’rent Strokes. The only slight dissimilarity is that Curtis’ ‘Momma’ has made sure that his hair is always cut short, almost to the point of him being bald.
Tommy Singing-Bird George : Really almost any Mexican-American or Native-American boy of about 7 to 10 years of age would do, but this picture is a pretty close facsimile of what the Storied Watcher’s adopted “son”, looks like.
Minnie Chu : (Along with the others in her FBI team, a minor character in Book 2 but a major one later on) : She’s a pretty good match for Lucy Liu, earlier in her career.
Otis Boatman : This “mountain of a man” FBI agent is almost an exact double of Michael Clarke Duncan.
Will Hendricks (a.k.a. the “Third Agent”) : Think of Bill Paxton in Predator 2 (another one of my favorite movies, by the way!) and you’ll get the idea.
Finally — Remember, you don’t have to go by what I have described above. By all means, imagine the characters however you want to.
(Note : Edited on August 4, 2012, to correct a couple of URLs that were returning “404’s”, after the original linked images on third-party sites were deleted or moved.)