John Grisham’s Characters

Celebrity Q&A, People
on February 11, 2012

When John Grisham writes his books, does he have an actor in mind to play the role?

—Mabel Washington, Decatur, Ill.

Grisham, 57, who has a producer credit on The Firm, the new NBC series that picks up the story of Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas) 10 years after the conclusion of the novel, says no, he doesn’t cast any actors in his head as the characters he is writing.

Occasionally, though, he’ll see a non-famous face in a catalog or magazine that catches his attention and he will put it on the wall for inspiration while writing.

“If you’ll notice when you read one of my books, I spend very little time giving a lot of physical description to my characters,” says the Jonesboro, Ark.-born bestseller. “I get bored with it as a reader when somebody goes on for a page and a half trying to describe someone’s face or physical attributes. To me it’s a waste of time. I hit the high points and let it go.”

There was one exception to his rule, but it kind of proves why it is not a good idea.

“Matthew McConaughey’s first big film was A Time to Kill,” recalls the author of the book that was adapted into a screenplay. “So a few years later, I was writing a book and I kept thinking, ‘This would be a great role for Matthew.’ Of course, it didn’t happen and the film’s never been made.”