I don't usually have a particular person/actor/model in mind when I come up with descriptions for my characters. I know some writers scour until they find just the right picture and then refer back to it while they write.
In fact, I just have a list of character traits and names I've used for each of my books, and when I come up with names and descriptions in a new one, I go for a look and name that I think fits the personality I want...and try to make sure it doesn't match another character I already have. Or get too close to another character, anyway. There are only so many combinations, you know?
However, there's always that one book that doesn't fit the norm, that breaks the usual mold. I went looking for a volleyball player because a character I'm working on plays the sport...and there she was. MY character in the flesh. Her real name is Logan Tom (hey, I didn't name her--blame her parents), and she's Dani-the-heroine come to life. Crazy, right?
So, I guess there's always some person that can be inspiration for our work, even if we don't mean for them to be. Of course, now I'm running the internet around looking for other photos of my heroine's doppleganger so I get her just right.
Another fun inspiration I always like to keep around is a favorite Italian model/actor named Raoul Bova. I fell madly in lust with him when he played in Under The Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane. Isn't he scrumptious?
This got me thinking about what inspires people to write a character the way they do. Is it a picture? A person they know in real life? Or is it completely made up the way my characters usually are? I work from my list quite happily, but I'm an obsessive compulsive list maker. Lists of traits, hair/eye combinations, scenes to write versus scenes I've already checked off the list, sexual positions so I don't repeat too often. It all goes on a list. Maybe that's something that inspires my writing in general. Checking off each box as I go and finishing a list is a challenge for me. It's me against the list. But in the meantime...models and actors aren't a bad way to go for a visual pick me up when planning out a character.