By Emily Liebert
From the moment I found out that my first novel, You Knew Me When, was going to be published for mass market consumption, my thoughts turned immediately to the big screen. After all, I reasoned, who wouldn’t want to adapt my epic love story into a feature film? (As it happens, I’d have been equally stoked about a television show.)
Since that time I’ve given birth to a second novel, When We Fall—because, yes, writing a book does feel strangely similar to bearing a child—and I have a third ready to hit stands on June 2nd called Those Secrets We Keep.
In honor of my third novel, and its evocative title, I thought I’d take this opportunity to reveal a little secret of my own—which actresses I’d cast in the roles of my leading ladies.
Not only has this exercise been a ton of fun, but I figure—hey—why not be prepared when Penny Marshall finally dials my digits? And, just in case, one of these fabulously talented gals happens to be tied up with another project…for the record, I’m ready for my close up!
Sloane: Even though there are three main characters in this, my newest novel, Sloane is really the central protagonist. On the surface, she has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing.
My pick: Amanda Peet. She embodies the “beautiful girl next door,” which is how I envision Sloane. I’ve long been a fan of Amanda’s work and believe she’d portray Sloane in the way I’ve imagined her. Also love that she’s a real life mom.
Georgina: As the wild child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done. Escape.
My pick: Amy Adams. For starters, there’s the long red hair, which is one of Georgina’s defining features. But that’s not why I picked Amy. (Hair can be colored!). Georgina is a tortured soul in many ways and she’s complicated. I selected Amy because I think her vast talent qualifies her to dig deep into who the real Georgina is and how/why she does the things she does. Also, Amy can be snarky, which is a necessity when portraying Georgina.
Hillary: She has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why. Hillary is a bit prude at times, but also responsible and level-headed.
My pick: Reese Witherspoon. As with the other women, Reese bears a close physical resemblance to what I picture Hillary to look like. But, again, not why I picked her. I love that Reese has the ability to play the high strung perfectionist (Sweet Home Alabama, Legally Blonde) and also let loose a little. That’s Hillary in a nutshell.
Allison: Ready for a fresh start, Allison moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, what Allison doesn’t anticipate is that her past will resurface.
My pick: Kate Hudson. This one was a no-brainer for me. For Allison, I knew I wanted someone naturally beautiful, with a lively spirit. Someone’s who’s smile was infectious, but also someone who could show vulnerability and hold her own in a tough situation.
Charlotte: At one time Charlotte thought she had it all—a devoted husband, a beautiful little girl, and enough financial security to never have to worry. But behind her “perfect” façade lies a strained marriage and a fractured relationship with her sister.
My pick: Jennifer Garner. Charlotte is complex. She may not seem it, but that’s the challenge. Sometimes she can be strong, sometimes not. To me, Jennifer comes across the same way. She’s a wife, mother, and career woman. At the same time, she’s made mistakes and learned from them, as I believe Charlotte has.
Elizabeth: Charlotte’s sister, Elizabeth, who’s suffered her own profound heartbreak—the loss of her baby girl at three months old—has become an embittered version of her former self.
My pick: Emily Blunt. This one I didn’t even have to think about! I love, love, love Emily Blunt. She’s wickedly funny (The Devil Wears Prada) and says it like it is. That’s Elizabeth. But there’s so much more to her, given her history, and only Emily could truly capture that.
Katherine: She left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.
My pick: Rose Byrne. I thought a lot about this one. The actress who plays Katherine has to be powerful (Rose in the TV show Damages), but also equally vulnerable and very attractive. There’s probably more than one actress who I could see in this role, but since I’m only picking one, Rose is at the top of my list.
Laney: She always swore she’d never get “stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and a mother. That was when her best friend Katherine ran out.
My pick: Drew Barrymore. Laney is bubbly, fun, and a free spirit. To me, that’s Drew. Laney is also someone with a depth that’s not obvious at first. To me that’s also Drew. And, they both have a wild side!
Luella: At the beginning of the book, we find out that Luella (who has passed away) has left her sprawling Victorian mansion to Katherine and Laney in an attempt to help them understand that, while life took them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. Luella is the epitome of effortless grace, with glowing skin and silvery gray hair always slicked back into a tight bun.
My pick: Helen Mirren. Although Luella isn’t alive for most of the book, she’s still one of the lead characters, as her decisions impact the lives of so many. For this character, I needed someone with incredible strength, grace, and compassion. But also someone who could be very private, stoic if you will. Helen would be my first choice for Luella for sure!
Emily Liebert lives with her husband, Lewis, and their two delicious little boys, Jax and Hugo, in Westport, CT where she moved kicking and screaming for fear that there would be no Chinese food delivery at three in the morning. She was right. In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, ‘You Knew Me When’ (Penguin), which published on September 3, 2013. Her second novel, ‘When We Fall’, published on September 2, 2014. ‘Those Secrets We Keep’, her third novel, will be released on June 2, 2015, and she’s currently hard at work on her fourth novel ‘Some Women’ which will be released in April 2016, all with Penguin Random House.