1. Characters are less critical than you think.
Sorry Johnny Depp wannabe, but no one is interested in your unbelievably unique take on the Lays Chip commercial. While we laud praise on actors like Daniel Day-Lewis or the ole "improviser" himself Joaquin Phoenix, the fact of the matter is that most writers and directors are not interested in your process or what character you have created. Actors love to talk about characters. In the words of David Mamet, do you know why actors like talking about backstory because it keeps them from memorizing their f*cking lines! More important than the "character" you have created are the moments in the scene, the conflict, the relationship, the stakes, the tactics, the choices, the objective. Character is revealed through action, not a 120-page journal that you wrote about the bag boy you are playing. Outside of drama school, no one cares about a psychological gesture or the embodiment of an idea. A writer has already done the groundwork for you. They have created all the tools necessary for creating a character in the text. Use them. One day you will be able to create a character from the ground up with a team of writers and a flexible director until then use the most unique creation you have: yourself.
2. Typecasting is Casting
What is the dredge of every young actor? Before they ever land a significant role, before they ever get paid to do a single part, before they ever become a working actor, "I don't want to be typecast." The fairytale playing in every actor's head is that someday they will be turning down seven-figure films to work on the Broadway revival of King Lear, and they don't want to damage their reputation as an artist by being "typecast." What they fail to understand is that everyone has a type, and if you refuse to play it, then you are refusing work. You have two options: take the role or make your role. If you feel the media is to cliche, reinforces negative stereotypes, or only presents trite characters that you never want to be a part of, then you have to go out and make your own. Otherwise, when you are first starting out, you absolutely must discover your "type." If you want to do comedy, then you better make sure your headshot reflects that, and if you're going to be a serious leading man, then you better present yourself in that way. Today, we exist in a world where we separate the artist from the role--or do we? The studio system used to pretend that the actors were the roles they played on film. John Wayne was the All-American cowboy standing for truth, justice, and the American way. Cary Grant was sophistication incarnate. How is that any different then what stars do today? Is Johnny Depp not typecast as the quirky-character actor? Is Jennifer Lawerence not projecting the image of the "Cool Girl" characters she plays in film?
3. It's Nothing Personal; It's Just Business
A hard pill to swallow is rejection. Everyone fails. There is an entire subsection of self-help that centers on the importance of failure. And while failures are essential to the working actor, the real struggle we face is rejection. Most people do not go on a hundred job interviews to find their careers. We don't ask out hundreds of dates a year, and yet actors must do precisely that. We are the masters of speed-dating, of the new Tinder casting. Still, it is hard to be rejected again, and again, and again. It can cripple your confidence. Did George Clooney go through this with his dashing good looks? Did Kirk Douglas? Or Charlie Chaplin? The short answer: yes. We all want to believe that everyone has it more accessible than we do, be it because they are handsome, funny, or charming; however, no one escapes this business unscarred. We all are told no, but it's not personal. If you were forced to cast someone to play you in an upcoming one-man show in New York, with an entirely written script encapsulating all the nuances of your life, would you settle for anyone? Would they not need the right color hair, the right height, the right comedic timing? How would you go about finding them? How many rounds of auditions? How many talented actors do you think you would see that are ever so slightly wrong for the part? The job is subjective. We all have our opinions about how Bruce Wayne should look, about how Wonder woman should talk, and how Sherlock Holmes should think. Therefore, while it feels like getting turned down for the prom, it really is just a business decision.
Leave a Reply.
Brock D. Vickers
This is the beginning of a new part of life: a habit: an idea: a routine to dig at what makes a man great.