Sadie Sink. Though I originally pictured her as being a bit more full-figured, Ms. Sink had the right slightly sarcastic attitude Meghan seemed to have. Meghan lived in San Antonio, Texas with her parents, Jerry and Grace, and her grandmother, Edith “Nana”. Meghan had an older brother who is married, and an older sister who is away at college. Neither sibling is mentioned in the novel. Jerry and Grace are tough on Meghan, and although they mean well, Meghan sees them as being overbearing, particularly in her teen years. She is fourteen years old when she lands on Parachute Island after being hit by a bus and wants to go back to Earth to apologize to her parents for running away from home.
Michael Peña. I had a hard time picking the right “actor” for David, as I originally saw myself as him. I finally settled on Peña as he seemed the right age and had the right charm that won over kids in films. David was never meant to be the protagonist—in fact, he’s not—but rather shared the story with Meghan. David was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where he lived with his father and younger sister. Though never stated in the novel, David was a writer. David lived in Austin, Texas with his wife Ellie Thierry-Muñoz and is thirty-one when he mysteriously appeared on the Island while in traffic.
Walt “Ham” Hammond
Jeff Cohen. At first, I pictured Joey from the 1993 film Dennis The Menace as Ham but found him too young. Eventually, I saw Chunk from The Goonies as the ideal Ham, being loud, boisterous, and pudgy. Ham is a ten-year-old boy who lived with his parents, two older brothers, and a younger sister in Seattle, Washington. His whole family (except for his baby sister) are all overweight and diabetic. Being diabetic, he loves candy, particularly Lemonheads. He loves science and birds, especially mockingbirds. He arrived on the Island after falling into a diabetic coma.
Unknown. Darlene is a short (~5’4), average built, brunette fourteen-year-old girl with a heavy Southern US accent. She lived in Mobile, Alabama with her parents and younger brother and sister. She came to the Island after battling cervical cancer and died after five months of being in agony. Though she likes to read, she never was bought many books by her parents. She loves animals, particularly horses, and spent many hours with animals on her family’s farm. She spends most of her time with the other teens, though she will occasionally spend time with Bibi.
Caleb McLaughlin. I pictured Mr. McLaughlin from the first season of Stranger Things almost immediately as the perfect Peter. Peter lived in Cleveland, Ohio with his parents and three older brothers. Unlike his older brothers, who are more athletically inclined, Peter is a video game geek and science nerd, particularly chemistry. Peter went to the Island after suffering from a bad case of the flu. On the Island, Peter enjoys spending most of his time playing video games and eating junk food, especially potato chips and soda. Being thirteen years old, he likes to tease Darlene on her bossiness.
Unknown. Kevin is a tall (~5’11), well-built, black-haired fifteen-year-old boy from Cambridge, England. He lived there with his mother, an English schoolteacher, and an alcoholic father, a college professor. He enjoyed playing rugby at his prep academy. He would listen to punk rock to drown out the yells between his parents, who would often argue due to his father’s excessive drinking. Though he secretly wanted a dog, he was never allowed one by his father. His father often physically abused him, and after one night of beating his wife, Kevin had to call emergency services to have her taken to the hospital. Feeling remorse for not taking action against his father, Kevin used his father’s hunting rifle to kill himself. While most often he would keep to himself in his room, he would dine and participate in some activities with the other teenagers, and even though he was the oldest teen on the Island, he would often be bossed around by Darlene.
Steven “Stevie” Dennison
Unknown. Stevie is a meek, average built nine-year-old boy with a page-style haircut and chestnut-color hair. He lived with his parents and older brother, Tommy, in Stonehill, Oklahoma. Not much is known about Stevie as he tends to keep mostly to himself, though he will on occasion play with other boys his age. He loves firecrackers and any kind of aircraft. Stevie gives David a cryptic message that proves to be pivotal to the novel. Stevie arrives to the Island after dying from a non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Anna Kendrick. When I thought of Ellie, she was more of a voice than an actual image; so I knew I had to have the right “actress” who could be soft-spoken and gentle in nature. I finally settled on Anna Kendrick, who I knew could fill those shoes. Ellie first met David in San Antonio, Texas where they eventually married. Though Ellie worked as a research microbiologist at Northwest Foundation in San Antonio, she and David moved to Austin, Texas. Ellie is twenty-nine at the time when the novel takes place and is ready to have children even though David has his reservations.
Jimmy Smits. I wanted the right Hispanic actor who could come across as loving, yet also hold a certain authority to him. Jimmy Smits was easily my top choice for Juan. Juan was born, raised, and lived all his life in San Antonio, Texas. He was married to Consuela and had two children, David and Jessica, before his wife succumbed to breast cancer when David was twelve. He continues to live in the same house and is resistant to moving with David as the old house still brings back memories. He is sixty at the time of the novel. I never intended to include Juan in the novel, but David needed some sort of family member that he could talk to, and so Juan came into the picture.
Unknown. Jessica is 5’6, average built, somewhat dark-complected, with dark hair. She is quirky, funny, and has all the qualities that make a Californian. Jessica is David’s younger sister and daughter to Juan. David helped his father raise her after their mother died from breast cancer when she was only six. She is twenty-eight at the time of the novel and is a systems analyst for an established tech company in San Diego, California. She also was never was meant to be a character in the novel, but when Juan showed up, I couldn’t let David be an only child; it just would’ve been too much heartache.
Gabriel Iglesias. Gabriel Iglesias was automatically my first choice to play the jovial, portly driver Miguel. Miguel immediately gave a certain comedic injection into the adult portion of the novel. Miguel was born in the Bronx where, after graduating from high school, he became a taxi driver for ten years. Wanting a change in pace and weather, he moved to San Antonio, Texas where he continued as a taxi driver, this time for the elderly and disabled. Later hired by Juan, he becomes David’s companion during his different travels.
Blake Clark. Though a bit older than what I envisioned Jerry to be at first, Mr. Clark had the right gruff voice I was looking for Jerry. Eventually, Clark’s demeanor helped shape Jerry as a strict, but well-meaning, father. Jerry is fifty-four at the time of the novel and is married to Grace, has two older children, as well as Meghan, and Edith, his mother-in-law, lives with them. Jerry is a bus driver who often works long, hard hours and often sees teens engaging in drugs and other criminal or mischievous activities. It is because of this that leads to his harsh upbringing of Meghan. Sadly, this is what causes Meghan to drift to drugs and run away.
Tony Todd. After David and Meghan, Marcus Dell was one of the characters who immediately came into the framework of the novel. I needed an actor with a certain gravitas that could come across as gruff, but also be a likable character who stood in David’s corner. I liked Todd in the 1994 film The Crow, and while he often plays dubious characters or villains in films, I thought it would be interesting to see him play a good guy. Admittedly, Forrest Whittaker came in a close second. Dell was hired by Juan at first to address the lawsuit filed against the company that caused the accident David was involved in. While Dell handles personal injury lawsuits, he is willing to also handle David’s trust.
Abraham “Abe” Lieberman
Rainn Wilson. Rainn Wilson didn’t immediately come to mind when I looked for someone who would portray the sloppy, yet affable, accountant Abe Lieberman. After doing a Google Image search, I stumbled across an image of Wilson in his well-known role from The Office, and I immediately knew I found my Abe. Like so many other characters, I didn’t know he was going to be vital until I started doing research on creating a charity fund. Abe often works with Marcus’s firm, and when Marcus hears of David’s needs, he immediately brings Abe into the loop.
Sam Elliott. I always wanted someone with a presence who could provide a certain fatherly figure. I originally thought of Richard Farnsworth, hence the name Farnsworth, but ended up deciding on Sam Elliott. Elliott would provide the no-nonsense angle to David’s otherworldly insights. Farnsworth is the CEO of the Northwest Foundation, a biological research firm. Farnsworth hired Ellie as a research microbiologist and first met David when he and Ellie were dating. Later, after the accident, Farnsworth is persuaded by David to head the advisory board of the charity fund.
Thomas “Tommy” Dennison
Tommy is Stevie’s older brother who is sixteen, tall (~5’10), light-skinned, has sandy-colored hair, and green eyes. Tommy lived with his parents and younger brother, Stevie. When Tommy was twelve, Stevie became sick and died from a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. During the time that Stevie was sick, Tommy was virtually left alone and ignored while his parents looked to Stevie’s needs. Before he got sick, Stevie idolized his brother, and the two would often explore in a small forest behind their parents’ house, building forts and setting off fireworks. Tommy has continuously been getting into trouble after Stevie’s death due to being neglected by his parents, and one day decides to go on a shooting spree at his school the day David arrives.
Grace Zabriskie. Ms. Zabriskie was the first person I envisioned as Grace Petersen, a fragile woman who is devastated by Meghan’s death. I even borrowed Ms. Zabriskie’s first name for Grace. Grace works at a payroll office downtown, is married to Jerry, and lives with him, Meghan, and her mother, Edith. She has two older children, but they are not mentioned in the novel. Grace continues to have dreams of Meghan and comes to accept the truth about David when he finally approaches her.
Edith “Nana” Holm
Rosemary Harris. I knew I had to pick the right actress who could come across as loving and grandmotherly. I thought of Rosemary Harris and her performance as Aunt May in 2002’s Spider-Man and felt she fit the part of Meghan’s Nana. Edith was married to Hubert Holm for forty-seven years before he passed. Though she had five other children, Edith instead chose to live with Jerry and Grace to help raise Meghan. Meghan lovingly called her Nana, and even though Nana gave her much attention, Meghan pushed away due to her parents’ strict measures. Edith was heartbroken upon discovering Meghan’s disappearance and more so upon hearing of Meghan’s death. She also had the same dreams as Grace and comes to accept David’s message when he approaches them.