Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ON ACTING: Emotional Typecasting

Actors often complain to me that they are typecast; that is, they are constrained in their offered roles because casting directors only see them physically in a certain way.

However, I would like to suggest to these actors that they very often typecast themselves in a worse way...emotionally..., and in a way they can control and change. In fact I would offer that more actors are emotionally typecast than physically typecast!

All leading men and women are not necessarily beautiful: Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, John Cusack, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. They are OK looking...but they get leading man and lady parts because they are able to "feel' like leading men and women.

A casting director will often say to an actor's agent: "Yes, XYZ is a wonderful actor, but I just don't think they are right for the role. I don't see them that way (the way the scripted character is slated to behave)." Which means: "I have never felt the appropriate sexiness...or anger...or sadness...coming from that actor that would convince me they could fully, convincingly, excitingly play the role I envision in performance.

Everyone makes estimates of people's emotional proclivities all the time. We say: "boy, she's sexy. Or "boy, he's angry." Or, "wow, she's one happy lady." What we mean is: those people we are referring to have those respective emotions bubbling close enough to (and more often enough than not at) the surface of their behavior so we can confidently and accurately describe them in that fashion.

Which leads us to the reason behind emotional self-typecasting: an actor who does not have a familiarity with an aspect of their emotional selves, irrespective whether those emotions are are happy or unhappy, up or down, stressful or unstressful, will rarely be typed in roles requiring those emotional behaviors. Instead they will be cast (typecast) in the emotional roles in which they are familiar...roles in which they are more comfortable with the required emotions, irrespective of outward craft and physicality demands.

So if actors want to escape emotional typecasting, to be considered for a wide range of roles, they must develop and hone a wide range of emotionally proclivities, so that when a casting director meets them, or sees their headshot, or views their work, they can (they will say): "Yea! Sure. I can see him (or her) in that role...sexy, angry, sad, bright, stupid, confused, worried...etc."

Actors who ellicit such responses are beyond (emotional) type; and work alot...and generally complain less about physical typecasting!


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