Monday, June 01, 2020

Visualizing the characters of The Expanse



The Expanse is a bit of an obsession of mine currently. I'm making my way through the novels and am itching to give the TV series a go as well.

The Expanse is foremost a series of sci-fi novels (as well as novellas and short stories) where humanity has colonized the solar system, inhabits space stations, planets & asteroid belts, dealing with the hardships and political systems that have formed around this expansion. Unlike some sci-fi, the tech introduced and used in the world isn't as far fetched. Sure, the human species is scattered across earth, space ships, stations and other planets (namely Mars) but there's no magic warp drives to whisk us across the galaxy, we're not hanging out in harmony with Aliens, we're just trying to make it in space. There's A LOT more to it, but that gives you an idea of the backdrop as the story starts.

The series holds eight novels currently, with the ninth to drop this year and has spun up a TV series (originally at Syfy, then picked up by Amazon) as well. As it always ends up being, when you're into a book (or series), you have envisioned what each character looks like based simply on their descriptions. When you toss a TV/Movie adaptation into the mix, you then have an interesting scenario where you likely have a different view than that of the actor chosen to play that character and have to wrestle with that.

I am currently into book five of the series and plan to consume the four seasons of the TV show once I've finished with this particular novel. This choice was made mainly for to avoid spoilers for the books. I'd hate to get into the show and ruin something in the books! I also like the idea of getting to know a series in book form where I can craft some of it's world myself before consuming something like the TV series where (visually at least) someone else takes that role. I found this extremely helpful image on reddit that shows the timeline of the story as it is told in the Books (as well as where the Novellas and Short Stories fit) and how that compares to the TV show. This has been a huge help.
*Zero spoilers in that image for anyone afraid of that.

As I gear up to get into the TV series, I've seen media in place advertising the series which has given me glimpses of the actors chosen for the roles in this series. Before my own developed image of each character warps thanks to the show, I wanted to write this post to encapsulate exactly my image of these characters as I've pictured them as I read these books.

I'll include the four main Roci crew members and a few others that seemed to have made an impact in the books up to this point (and have an appearance in the show):

 
 James "Jim" Holden: I've often pictured Jim Holden as a young Bruce Willis. Maybe a bit less goofy, but certainly closer to the image I've chosen than the actor chosen for the role in the TV series. This one shocked me as I thought holden was a pretty easy character to nail down.

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 0%
My view: Completely not what I pictured. This guy looks too young.
This is the actor portraying Holden on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) here.
Closeness to artist's rendition based on books? 60%
 
 Naomi Nagata: Not a character I've pictured in any one actor or character portrayed in other mediums. But I did stumble on this art piece that captures how I pictured Naomi in the books thus far. Her hair doesn't quite fit, but I like this image all the same.

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 70%
My view: I like who they chose for Naomi for the most part.
This is the actor portraying Naomi on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) here.
Closeness to artist's rendition based on books? 70%
 
 Amos Burton: This may seem an odd connection, but the visual image I have for Amos is most closely resembled by the character of Jonah Maiava from 2013's Tomb Raider video game. Not exactly, but I'd say similar to this picture, perhaps less hair and more muscles. But pretty damn close.

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 0%
My view: Who is this scrawny guy they got for Amos?
This is the actor portraying Amos on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) here.
Closeness to artist's rendition based on books? 50%
 
 Alex Kamal: So, I go for a video game reference again for this one. I'm picturing StarCraft 2's Jim Raynor... but in this case, give him a pot belly and some extra body mass? The beard I think matches as does the older look and body time (if adjusted some).

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 10%
My View: The beard is there... but... there's no way Alex is that tiny.
This is the actor portraying Alex on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) here.
Closeness to artist's rendition based on books? 90%
 
 Josephus "Joe" Aloisus Miller: Simply put an older, slightly more scruffy Detective Harvey Bullock from the Batman series (more so comics or animated series as opposed to Movie/TV adaptations).I always picture him in the full trench coat too... which... in space he very likely would not be sporting... but hey.

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 0%
My View: Thomas Jane? The fuck? Really? No.
This is the actor portraying Miller on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) not found.
 
 
 Roberta "Bobbie" W. Draper: Easy. Put Gwendoline Christie's portrayal of Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) in a martian space suit and bam. Bobbie. Ha.I think it was the intro of bobbie in her powered armor that gave me this image of a giant of a woman and thus the connection.

Closeness to TV show portrayal? 0%
My View: Really not what I pictured. Shes so short.
This is the actor portraying Bobbie on the TV show.
Artist rendition of character (based on books) here.
Closeness to artist's rendition based on books? 0%