The Wheel of Time Casting Call, Tier 1 – Nynaeve and Mat

Welcome back to The Wheel of Time Casting Call. We’re in week 3 of our Tier 1, or primary characters, and we’re coming back to Team Light this week (yay!).

As a note on the art: For most of the art I use for characters, I am getting it from the amazing Seamas Gallagher gallery, who does some of the best WoT art out there. Some of the other I’ve used is from the equally amazing Jeremy Saliba. A lot of the art I use is cropped, so that I can fit the most character on the screen without having to deal with fancy borders and such, so you guys should definitely check these guys’ sites out (where you will find the full, beautiful pictures) and support them if at all possible. Some characters, no matter how important(ish) they are, do not have art though.

Oh, and there will be spoilers, up to and including Towers of Midnight. You have been warned.

So next up on our list come two of the characters that, in my opinion, are very similar – both characters seem psychologically invested in other people not seeing their interior, or their core character. Nynaeve comes about it from needing people to accept her – first as a Wisdom, then as an Aes Sedai – in situations where she would not typically be accepted as those. She was considered by many to be too young to be a Wisdom, and then she skipped novice training, and didn’t get to pass the Aes Sedai tests, so constantly had to battle people not believing she was who she said she was. This put up some pretty serious walls. Mat’s is a little different, but it comes from the same place – he fears being an important person, and fears being responsible for the lives (and deaths) of people around him, so he runs from his responsibilities for many books, before finally shouldering the burden of being a general and a hero. These psychologies are very important for the characters’ Castings.

Mat and Nynaeve, by Seamas Gallagher

Anyone who’s made it through three chapters of the series knows who these characters are, and they are two of the most important in the series. Mat, of course, is a ta’veren, and one of Our Heroes who will be leading the ranks of Light into the final battle (presumably?), while Nynaeve has been extremely important for the Light in a bit more of a background role. She is, as Masema once said, “like a mother” to Rand, and without her, Saidin would likely not be cleansed. She is also (once again, presumably), heading to Shayol Ghul with Rand to do the final deed, whenever that is. Possibly will even be the one to bring back Rand from death. So yeah, kinda important.

So what do I have in mind for them?

Nynaeve, from The Path of Daggers e-book cover
Well, the actress to play Nynaeve al’Meara has to be someone who can play a temper-tantrum-prone lady. The main characteristic we know about Nynaeve, all the way from back in The Eye of the World, is that she gets angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, nosiree. She screeches like a cat, yanks her braid out of her head, crosses arms under her breasts, and starts calling people “woolheads.” Of course, there’s another characteristic of her that is worth mentioning – that is, she’s very pretty.

She has (up until the latest book, anyway) long, dark hair, tied in a braid that she likes to keep drawn over her shoulder (the better to yank it with). She has dark eyes, and is often drawn looking pouty (or angry), but is said by many to be very pretty, or even beautiful. She is often described to be on the shorter side as well, but I’m going to have to bypass that one, unfortunately.

So, a lot of people really like Evangeline Lilly or Beckinsale for this role. As for Beckinsale, I don’t see it at all. I honestly believe that someone, somewhere, saw that one picture of her looking pretty with a long braid, and said, “Hey, that looks like Nynaeve.” For Lilly, I think there’s a possibility she could do the role, but my main problem with her (other than some minor, nit-picky acting issues I have with her based on her performances as Kate) is that she just looks too . . . cute. I don’t know how else to describe it. She looks like someone that you could hug in place of your teddy bear when you’re having a bad day, not like someone who could thump you with a stout stick.

Therefore, I will be going with Laura Mennell. Mennell is a beautiful young actress, with long, dark hair, and the perfect shape to her face to play the angry/pouty look we see in so many Nynaeve portraits. She hasn’t been in a ton of films yet, but I’ve been suitably impressed by what I’ve seen of her. She also looks to be exactly the right age to still look young and girly (and thus, not be taken as seriously as she may should be), while actually being old enough to be the Wisdom and Aes Sedai she becomes.

Laura Mennell as Nynaeve

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Flight 93
Various TV Shows

Mat, from The Fires of Heaven e-book Cover
And now we come to many peoples’ favorite character in the series, Mat Cauthon. While he is not my personal favorite (though he is one of them), I can certainly see his appeal. He’s smart, witty, funny, clever, and apparently pretty good-looking to boot. He is the best general on the planet right now, due to all those memories shoved into his head, and he has a very strong moral and ethical code by which he lives, which should lead to some interesting conversations with his wife in the very near future.

Physically, he is not as tall as the other heroes (I’ve seen his height listed as between 5’9″ and 5’11”), but is wiry and long-limbed. He has brown hair and eye(s), a bit of a permanent smirk on his face, and walks with a “confident slouch.” I’m assuming that means he walks in a manner that would put off would-be attackers? Make-up-wise, he has a pretty gruesome scar around his neck from being hanged, and is currently sans one eyeball.

Mat is another of those characters who there seems to be very little consensus on who should play him, though Sean William Scott (ugh) h as come up a few times. I don’t know what I think about that other than, “wha-huh?” You can quote me on that.

So I’m going with Emile Hirsch, a very fine actor who has gotten more popular in recent years. Quite frankly, he looks to me exactly how I picture Mat in my head, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time and energy justifying this choice. He has the right hair and eye color, I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard for him to have the right build (he’d need to lose a few pounds), and he’s even not that old – he’s the youngest of the actors I’ve cast for Our Heroes. Plus, look at that picture of him in a hat. Just look at it! That’s frakkin Mat bloody Cauthon right there!

Emile Hirsch as Mat Bloody Cauthon

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
The Girl Next Door
Into the Wild

Well, that’s it for this week. Hope you’ve enjoyed. Next week will finally get to one of the characters that people have been asking me about since I first started this blog. Maybe I’ll stir up some trouble.

-Brandon Daggerhart

11 thoughts on “The Wheel of Time Casting Call, Tier 1 – Nynaeve and Mat

  1. You must have just posted!!
    I like. Good job.

    Just on an aside, Emile will have to lose more than just a few pounds to become as skinny as I imagined Mat to be.. but oh well, it IS your cast!

  2. I genuinely could not have imagined anyone better for the role of Mat than Emile! Thank you! Because, frankly, I haven’t been able to find a good enough person to imagine as Mat throughout the first 6 books…until now! Now I just need Rand! Can’t wait 🙂

  3. AMAZING choice with Nynaeve! I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been a Torchwood glutton lately, but I’m sort of seeing Burn Gorman as a great Mat. Movie makeup magic can make him look young enough for the beginning, and he has those sharp but nice features I always pictured on the character. And a seriously smart-ass attitude that can switch to magnetic in a second.

    This guy:

    (it might make more sense if you watch the show)

  4. I can make my peace with heights being off by a few inches, especially when Jordan hasn’t made a big deal over it, but Mennell is 5’9″ which it tall even in our world (Jordan did state that average height in the books is less than in today’s society, as the series correlates with our 17th century, when people were shorter). Ny’s height is almost as big a factor in her description as Moiraine’s is in hers (hence why I can’t have Weisz for her) so to be five whole inches taller… No.

    That being said, I feel like taking back all my disagreements because you gave me a decent Mat. I beamed at my screen when I scrolled down, and there had been some trepidation what with him being my favourite character. I worried you would go with the awful consensus that I’ve come across, and forget that Mat is a handsome ladies’ man on top of his other qualities – but you didn’t.
    I know it’s seems hypocritical of me to approve so much when Hirsch is at least four inches too short, but if I may defend myself – I can waive certain aspects of physicality when facial features are this spot on! I’ve only seen him suggested for Perrin before, which I thought some madness, so hooray.

    You are now awesome; here is your badge.

  5. First off, great list!

    I think your casting of mat is pretty good… But I was thinking James Franco, excellent actor, fun personality but I think his grin seals it. I can just see Franco trying to grin his way outta everything… But also keeping that haunted hero thing going (128 hours is a great example).

    I think Emile Hirsch could do a good job acting as mat cauthon, but it seems to me like James Franco is him.

    At least think about it.

  6. You are so right; I’ve liked the older Franco for Mat for some time now. I think he can still pull off being twenty, and he looks exactly like my mind’s image! Hirsch is good, but too short at 5′ 7″ (if you’re bothered about that kind of thing) – Franco is better at 5′ 10″ (Mat being placed between 5’11-6′).

    Incidentally, the film was 127 Hours – perhaps you wanted it to be longer? 😉

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