Who Should Play Me in the Movie?

Photos Provided by Jim LaBate

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read the following question at some point: If Hollywood were to make a movie out of your life, which actor or actress would best portray you?

It’s hard to take that question seriously because most of us know that Hollywood isn’t going to make a movie about us. Still, the question is fun and entertaining because it causes us to think about who we are and how we see ourselves versus how others see us.

For instance, I like to think I’m as tough as Clint Eastwood or as charming as Robert Redford, but I know those comparisons are not at all accurate. Realistically, I’m probably more like a goofy Dick Van Dyke without the ability to dance.

Illustration by Wendy Nooney

So why am I even thinking about this question especially at this late stage of my life? Well, as some of you may know, I recently published a novel called Streets of Golfito, a story that is partly based on my Peace Corps experience in Costa Rica during the early 1970s. At this point, I doubt anyone in Hollywood is even aware of my book, but since so many new production companies are providing content for outlets such as Netflix and Hulu among others, I thought I’d explore the possibilities.

And in fact, one option allows writers to post information about their books on a website, so that agents and producers can be aware of the book’s existence. One feature of that particular option also asks the writers to suggest specific actors and actresses who might fit the roles of the book’s main characters. This is where I am stuck, and I need help from my readers.

My two main characters are age 22 and 17 respectively, and I do not know enough about the young professionals today who could play those roles. Thus, let me give you an overview of Jim and Lilli, and, perhaps, you can offer suggestions.

Jim is an energetic, optimistic, and athletic 22-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer from upstate New York, and he has been assigned to introduce sports other than soccer to the young people.

By contrast, Lilli is a shy, beautiful, 17-year-old Costa Rican girl who lives with her mother and her maternal grandparents and who wants to learn English and escape her small town, a banana port on the Pacific side near the Panamanian border.

Unfortunately, a few months after Jim and Lilli meet, Lilli experiences a tragedy that will drastically change her life, and Jim does all he can to help her survive and thrive in her new circumstances.

Illustration by Wendy Nooney

If this movie had been made 40 to 50 years ago, the director may have cast Jim with someone like Ron Howard from the TV show Happy Days (1974–1984) or Robby Benson from the 1977 basketball movie One on One. Honestly, I’m not sure who might have been cast in the role of Lilli.

So please give this request some thought and make a suggestion or two (with information about the person’s movie or TV experience) in the comments section. What young Hollywood stars of today might fit the roles of Jim and Lilli? Then, if the movie ever gets made and if one of your suggestions appears in the film, I’ll do everything I can to make sure your name gets listed in the credits.


Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.