Casting Sally Solari, the Movie

No, I have not, alas, been offered a contract or even an option for a movie or TV show based on my Sally Solari mystery series. But I thought it would be fun, nevertheless, to fantasize about who I would cast as the characters, were that ever were to occur.

Let’s start with Sally: She’s a fourth-generation Italian, part of the community of fishermen who first emigrated to Santa Cruz, California back in the 1890s. Not yet forty, she’s already experiencing erratic hormones and hot flashes. As a result, she can tend towards over-the-top emotions and sarcasm (though cycling and bourbon help). But she’s also smart, stubborn, and resolute, and rarely takes no for an answer. As a result, when Sally sets her mind on tracking down a murderer, you do not want to be the one who gets in her way.

So what actor should play this spunky gal? Why, Jennifer Garner, of course. Not only does she have the correct build for Sally—tall and lanky with shoulder-length dark hair—but she’s got the right personality, as well: tough-as-nails, but with a sweetness and vulnerability at her core. I’m thinking the Jennifer Garner of Alias fame (when she was the correct age for Sally), where she played Sydney Bristow, a fearless secret agent posing as a mild-mannered bank clerk. And I bet Jennifer would have loads of fun learning the skills of a line cook/restaurateur to prepare for the role!

Jennifer back in her Alias days (photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

As for Eric Byrne, Sally’s ex-boyfriend and current BFF, with his charming smile and boyish blond locks, this district attorney who’d far rather be surfing waves than prosecuting criminals should most definitely be played by none other than the eternally youthful Brad Pitt. I mean, c’mon—wouldn’t you pay good money to watch Jennifer Garner and Brad Pitt square off in a bout of snarky jokes and quick repartee?

(photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, I would have dearly loved to see the late Robert Forster as Sally’s father, Mario. With his sweetly gruff manner, Forster would have been perfect to showcase the hurt that the swaggering, can’t-show-my-feelings fisherman feels when his daughter decides to leave their family’s Italian seafood eatery to take over the trendy, French-Polynesian restaurant, Gauguin, left to Sally by her murdered aunt in book one of the series.

(photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Oh, and speaking of sweetness-and-vulnerability-meet-snark-and-quick-repartees, how fun would it to be to score Nancy Meyers as director and Aaron Sorkin as screenwriter for a movie based on my latest book The Fragrance of Death?

I can dream, can’t I?

Readers: Who would you cast as the leads in your favorite mystery novels?

32 thoughts on “Casting Sally Solari, the Movie

    1. How fun, Leslie! I recently watched Jackie Brown and Robert Forster was fantastic in it. I’ve often thought I’d love to have Kristen Bell play Allie in my Allie Cobb Mysteries. Dream big, right!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Excellent question, Leslie! I like your casting, too.

    To cast the lead in my favorite mystery novels, I use a trimmed-down version of the Enneagram of Personality process to first figure out the character “type.” Then I scan the roles in films that fit that type.

    Once I’ve got an actor in mind, I make sure their role fits the storyline. From there, I pick up on the movies quotes and mannerisms, using that information as “patterns” to fill out the Character Profile and create a distinctive-voice sample for dialogue.

    The plot shapes my character’s arc, and that helps me select the shift in behaviors and traits as the individual reacts realistically to scene goals and events.

    Sounds complicated, but it’s a snap with a quick test for “character type” and a matrix of “development levels” that shows the shift in behaviors. Oh, and I use a list of public figures if I can’t find a suitable character from films — that gives me plenty of quotes for creating distinctive-voice patterns.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been asked to share the method and character type profiles with others. When ready for sharing, would you want to take it for a test drive?


  2. Great casting! I love dream casting. I think Anne Hathaway could play both Maggie and Ricki in my Cajun Country and Vintage Cookbook mysteries. Blythe Danner would be wonderful as both Grand-mere and Eugenia. I actually had Jesse Williams in mind for Vintage’s Jesse Williams. And Leah Remini would be perfect as Mia in the Catering Hall series, even though she’s older. She’s a neighbor, although I’ve never laid eyes on her. But I read in a local handout her mother and husband run a little luncheon place a couple of miles down the road, so one day I left a gift bag with copies of the books, swag, and a letter saying she’d be great as the lead. I never heard a word back. Her loss!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Someone at work probably took it home and it never got to her, but who knows. She may just not have been taught well by her parents to thank people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Or she’s too cool for me! But it was a bit of a surprise. I’ve worked with actors for decades now and know if you can get past their handlers, an actor will do pretty much anything for a great role, no matter how famous they are.


  3. I’m horrible at figuring out casting choices. But I would love for my books to get optioned. I’ve heard stories that sometimes it takes a loooong time, so I feel like whoever I pick might age out once everything actually lines up!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Leslie, loved this! Funny, I envisioned Jennifer Garner as my current sleuth, too–along with Amy Adams as her younger sister. Jen has no idea of all the opportunities awaiting her in Mystery Land!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a fun post! I start with casting when I develop characters, even though they don’t always stay the same when I’m writing. I use celebrities mostly, but friends and family sometimes show up as characters. Just today I put my dad and Rosie Perez in my new series.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I do this all the time Leslie, to help me visualize my characters as I write. I often use Google Images to come up with pix of people whom I may or may not know.
    Here’s the cast of the new Natalie McMasters movie based on my WIP, Sister!
    Natalie McMasters/Arabella DuPont: Lili Reinhart (
    Danny Merkel: Brad Pitt (I saw him first, Leslie!)
    Lupe Ibanez: Cierra Ramirez (
    Eduardo Ibanez: Malachi Barton (
    Amos Murdoch: Terry Gilliam (
    Maribeth Woodrow: Jaime Lee Curtis (
    Leon Kidd: Ving Rhames (


  7. OOOOO! I love this casting!! It couldn’t be more perfect!

    For my own books, I always saw Rachel McAdams for Maggie and Adrian Grenier for Constantine. The trick is that the characters remain ageless while the actors don’t!


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