Friday, April 23, 2010

Actors Tip: Typecasting and Judgement


There are many fears I have as an actor. Many. Am I talented enough, pretty enough, gutsy enough, tough enough (I know, I'm starting to sound like that one Rolling Stones song right now) but seriously. Lots. I consider myself a fairly confident person. pretty secure in who I am. I think as an actor - you have to be secure - because with all the "No's" you will hear - if you aren't secure in your ability - and youself - well then, you'll probably just give up - or jump off the nearest cliff. lol.

As strange as it may sound - right after the words "never making it", my biggest fear is typecasting. I've been told not to worry about this until it presents itself as a problem - but it's something I think about all the time. One of the reasons I love this profession - see, is I get bored easily - office job - kill me. Waitress? Jump in front of a bus. I need change. I need to be challeneged. Constantly. Being typecast into a certain type of role - would be the acting equivalent of an office job. The same "type" of thing - day after day. Now don't get me wrong - at this point - you wouldn't see me turning down any roles. I'm not stupid. I know you have to put in your time before you can ever get to a point where you are picking the roles/scripts - you want - desire - however - my question is this...

During that journey to "making it" how does one avoid getting typecast? Jennifer Aniston for example - she always plays Rachel from Friends. I know - a few exceptions - but you catch my drift. She is never going to be the badass or play a raunchy drug addict - because people don't want to see that from her. Now Jennifer has a great career - and I'm sure she's happy - and - she is very talented.
But she is definitly typecast.

There are very few actors that manage to break this "typecast" mold. I think Robin Williams pulled it off - and - one in particular - that I admire - and feel is one of the most talented actors today:

Keira Knightly.

She can do it all. From soft and vulnerable to hardcore badass - and it's believeable.

That's the career I want. That's the path I want to take. It's why I'm tackling the complex/gut-wrenching/physical lead role in Oklahoma Wards challenging for any actor - new film - which you can follow here on this site: Making a Movie Day 055.
It's not the typical role you might see me play - and many I have told - about the character I am playing - actually had the nerve to laugh in my face - literally - at the thought of me portraying the character on screen. You know what - that just fuels my flames. See - I have something to prove. Not so much to those people who laughed - but - to myself. I want to come out of the gate strong - guns blazing - with my two middle fingers up at those who doubt me. This may sound harsh - but that's how I feel. I get more and more excited every day seeing the storyboard of the challenging movie come to life - learning/seeing bits and pieces about the woman I am about to become - and I am excited - scared - challenged. Focused.

So tell me actors - what are your feelings about this topic? Do you worry about being typecast? What steps are you taking to keep it diversified and interesting?

As for me - I'm ready to take this role by the balls and show everyone and myself what I'm able to do!

That's EXTREMEINDIE right there BABY! BOOM!
-Nicole Alonso

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  1. I am sure a lot of actors worry about being typcasted. That was Harrison Ford's reason for not wanting to play Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. He did not want to be typecast in a character he played in 3 movies. However, I think he wouldn't have minded being typcast as Indiana Jones.

    In your case, I can see the typcasting you would be concerned about, and what you are doing is probably the best remedy for that. I think it is a common mantra among actors to "play a role that's not for you" in order to expand your acting ability, get you out of your comfort zone and build your range of characters. Besides wanting this role you have another motivation in executing the role. I can't wait to see your performance.

    Doing something because someone else says it can't be done brings a great sense of accomplishment. Ok, so someone else believes it can't be done. That is their own self imposed limitation.....and you don't have to have that too. Grab that role and show how it's really supposed to be done!

  2. Exactly! I completely agree Steve - I think in this industry in particular - there are a lot of people who are going to doubt you and don't consider what we do a "real" job - but I will say this... I've worked harder at this so far in the past 4 years than I've ever worked at anything in my life - and I'm just getting started. So when I hear those people saying negative comments or that I should have a "real" job - it really gets under my skin.

    I have learned just to let it go. I will know who supported me and who didn't - and when I make it - I won't forget that fact.

  3. Well I'm not sure any actor doesn't eventually become typecast with a very very few exceptions. Meryl Streep for one, although you could say she is somewhat typecast for dramatic roles. Not completely a typecast but a little. Of course as they get older, they began to spread out a little in order to get roles, hence her comedies??? But I think you are talking about really really typecast as the detective, the girl next door, the Rambo character, and so on. If you do get typecast, and I can see the very probably danger, especially if you are acknowledged or "discovered" in a role at which you have excelled, then I would say to try and add something to the next similar role you play. Don't start taking roles simply to break out and end up with really bad pics. Harrison Ford never seemed to be completely type cast but semi type cast. He would play the same character in a group of movies but then would be lucky or smart enough to jump to another role, which would cause another small type cast roll. He had Hans, then Indiana Jones, then the Military undercover family man, then the heroic President, and mixed in between was Presumed Innocent. So he was able to play some variety. He did try a few comedic roles but I don't think he does well at those. And of course we all remember him long ago as the sexy hotrodder. Now he was always the hero, so to speak, except in Presume Innocent. Sometimes actors are much more successful when type cast, such as Stallone. He has played a few non type cast roles and most have failed. But he has made his career from his type cast roles. Maybe he knows his limits, I don't know. Sean Connery was so type cast as 007 but finally after several attempts and hard work broke the mold to other roles. He is still the competant hero in most but at least he wasn't always seen as 007 eventually. Angie Jolie has managed to keep type cast free, as has Uma, Cate Blanchett, and others. I can see the worry but hopefully you will be able to avoid total type casting. I know you will work hard at it.

  4. Agreed with Shirl' here - and maybe - just maybe this hits home for women morso than men. Women seem to have the same role offered very very often - only in the last 10 ears or so does it seem that women can grab the lead role with force. I place that not at the feet of the actor bytheby - I place that at the feet of material and what society may have accepted and not. Kiera Knightly has done this well - as did Jolie - both very pretty women - and could have been stuck in just that - the pretty girl role. The trick I think is to find material that has weight - and challenging.