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I've been following with interest the process of turning Kathryn Stockett's bestseller The Help into a film. I really loved the book and have high hopes for its movie counterpart, but there have been a lot of strange decisions made already. First up was the plan for Stockett's childhood friend and relatively green director Tate Taylor to both direct and adapt the screenplay, and then there was casting Emma Stone in the lead role of "Skeeter" Phelan-- Stone is great and all, but she feels about as authentically Mississippian as the mud pies at the artisanal chocolate shop in my Brooklyn neighborhood.
Casting Viola Davis as one of the key black female maid characters--- the book is set in the early 1960s as Stone's character writes a book about the experience of African-American maids--was a clutch decision, but now the casting's gotten all weird again. Deadline Hollywood reports that Bryce Dallas Howard will play Hilly Holbrook, sort of the villain of the book who is a childhood friend of Skeeter's, but has embraced the racist, completely stilted proper society that Skeeter is desperate to escape.
Let's start with logic here: Skeeter and Hilly are supposed to be the age of relatively recent college graduates, 23 or 24, and while Stone is in fact 21, Howard is 29. Not only does she not seem young enough for the role, but she and Stone won't likely look the same age. And speaking of looks, this may sound shallow, but Howard and Stone are both redheads; for the two of them to play characters who are intended to contrast one another would be pretty odd visually, especially given how uncommon red hair is. Are they planning for one of them to dye their hair? Will Howard wear a frosted blonde wig like Sandra Bullock did in The Blind Side?
I like Howard, I really do, but I'm just not seeing that stuffy, Southern socialite thing in her. And how much more non-Southern can you get than a child of Hollywood? I don't care how much time her dad spent in Mayberry-- that accent is not going to come to her naturally. Consider my warning lights officially back on for this thing.