Thursday, June 21, 2012

Famous Actors vs. Famous (acting) Athletes

Here's a funny clip from Jimmy Kimmel bemoaning athletes taking parts in movies.



It's a funny clip, and I don't want to see anybody on screen who can't do a part well, but I think many actors are hired for the exact same reasons.

Celebrity athletes are hired to act because they're famous. Some major fans of Michael Jordan might go see Space Jam just because he's in it, even if he's not a very good actor. I bet Gary Oldman fans would pay to go see him play basketball.

What I see in film, though, is that actors get hired all the time because they are famous. They are often famous for acting, sure, but I refuse to believe that they are the absolute best people for the part in terms of being able to act it well. Los Angeles is crawling with actors who will work for peanuts, and many of them are very good.

There are very few actors out there who are irreplaceable. What I mean by that is that there are few actors out there that can do parts in a way that nobody else can do them. My list includes people like Robert Downey Jr., Nicholas Cage, Tom Cruise, and Jim Carrey. I don't want to debate about who's on the list-- everyone's list will be different, but let's talk about Jim Carrey for a minute.

Like him or hate him, it's hard to watch a movie like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and think of another actor who would do it so well. In contrast, when I recently watched Jackson's King Kong, I though of how much better the movie would have been if Robert Downey Jr. had been cast in Jack Black's part.

So ignore my list, if you like, and make your own. Outside of your list, though, all the other actors are possibly very good, but also replaceable with some other competent actor. Gary Oldman himself I admire a great deal because he can change completely with every role he takes (unlike Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Spacey, and Jim Carrey). But his versatility makes him a little less distinctive. I often have to be reminded that I'm watching him at all.

So for all of those other actors out there, for a given role you'd think you should hire the best actor for the role. But often, no, they hire someone famous. Why? For the exact same reason they hire athletes.

I've seen films which require a British accent, and it's played by someone who can't even do one. It's played by an actor, not an athlete, but in the face of such incompetence, what does it matter? It's just as egregious.

It's even worse for voice acting for animated films. Famous people are hired to do the voices, and then are given top billing in the marketing. Shrek starring Cameron Diaz! Who cares? Her voice isn't even distinctive.

Just as Gary Oldman complains about athletes in movie rolls, voice actors complain about putting regular actors in voice acting rolls. This is something Oldman has done himself! Maybe a voice actor should make a similar clip for Jimmy Kimmel bemoaning the placement of regular actors in voice actor parts.

Cameron Diaz is attractive and funny. Let's all pay money to see her voice an ogre. 


Why cast Cameron Diaz in Shrek 2, when a hundred super cheap, hungry, trained voice actors could have done it just as well, or probably even better?

For the same reason Shaq gets cast in movies. Star power. On average, stars provide three million dollars in revenues, as the link below shows. The link also shows that it's not worth it.

So, Gary Oldman, if you want to throw athletes out of movies, to be consistent you should throw out the whole star system. And given that Oldman is so good that sometimes you can't even recognize him on screen, that's bad news for him.

Somebody much cheaper could have pulled it off just as well.


* http://www.bakadesuyo.com/are-movie-stars-worth-it



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