Is talent enough?
In the past week, I have been invited to audition for a film. It is quite a big film, in that there is a Hollywood partner involved, with a local company. It would be great to get the role...
The audition went well. The Casting Director said of my performance: “You are one of the best actors we have seen.” So, he likes my acting. However, he went on to say: “However, I am not the one who makes the decisions.” He only presents the possibilities to the Director and his board...but does not himself decide whom to cast.
Now, I have had experience of casting in Asia, before. Perhaps my remarks apply to casting everywhere. In the past, I have had Casting Directors say that my acting was great...but that they were looking for “someone blond”, or were “going for looks”. In other words, they were casting for APPEARANCE, over substance. This was a particular problem in Singapore, where it was quite possible for a casting person to choose an incompetent, non-actor, who looked good, over an experienced actor, who didn’t fit their “look”, requirements. Of course, the result of this kind of casting was that, sometimes, the performances that resulted were really bad – the entire integrity and quality of the work was compromised. Yet, the production people never seemed able to see this as a problem. They didn’t realize that their superficiality was damaging the resultant work.
The film I cast for this week has definite promise. I have seen the art material and the intended look of the work – it looks like it is going to be stunning in that sense. That, however, worries me a little. You see, if they are too much concerned with look, then they might not choose me, because the role I would like is for someone who is more muscular than I am, supposedly. So, if they focus too much on looks, they might choose a gym rat, over me. That, however, would be a mistake, I think, from the point of view, of securing the best performance in the role – that, I am sure, I can deliver.
I see this period as a test of the production. If it is focussed on looks, then they might choose someone else. If it is focussed on the best performances possible, then they are likely to choose me, given what the casting director has said. If the former, then they are making the classic Asian casting mistake and this is likely to be a compromised production, that is less good than it could be. If, however, they choose my performance, they are aiming for quality of performances and the film is likely to be a very good one. I hope it is the latter: we shall see.
I shall keep you informed as to which they choose.
To answer my own question, I would to say that, often, talent is not enough. An actor can be brilliant at acting and still not chosen for a role. It might be decided that they are too young, too old, too fat, too thin, too muscular, not muscular enough, too dark, too light and so on. Once they start placing too much importance on appearance, there are a million reasons why a particular actor might not be chosen – even if, by their performance, they would be perfect for the role. Personally, I think the process is dumb: they are getting hung up on trivialities and not seeing the core. They should cast the core, and ignore the minor disparities at the edges – after all, styling can deal with some of them, anyway.
I hope to have good news soon.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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