Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why are Actors All so Damn Fruity?

Remember, in high school, the clique of drama-club guys? That group that was always in every school play? The skinny, turtle-necked guys? Sometimes a little goth? Maybe a little with the tight pants and the scarves and the berets, carrying around dog-eared Eugene O'Neil paperbacks? Not necessarily homosexual you understand, just... deeply fruity.

My problem is that, and this has been confirmed to me over and over, the actors we watch today in TV and film are merely the adult versions of these people. Which is to say, anytime you cast a movie or a TV show, every part has been cast from this same limited, anemic, fruity pool of talent. If you're looking for a gifted 25 year old actor, then you're looking for someone who made a commitment in adolescence to study the craft of the stage. Which is to say, an overly sensitive, highly artistic fruit of a young man. That's how you get a gifted 25 year old actor. Which is fine I guess if you're casting a Woody Allen movie and every other scene takes place in a gallery party or a SoHo loft. But when the time comes to cast some real manly men, you can't get any real manly men. You can only get a sensitive drama-club guy doing what he thinks is an impression of a blue collar, masculine dude.

To be fair, occasionally you get someone like Schwartzenegger, who broke into the business just because of his physical attributes, and not because of any "muse". So sometimes, you can pluck someone from real life and make an actor out of them. But it's rare. And actually, I tend to enjoy those performances the best. But generally, we're stuck with fruity actors trying to portray non-fruity non-actors. Sometimes they succeed. Usually they don't.

Leo as.... Howard Hughes?

Adrien Brody mans it up in King Kong.

Isn't it a weird let down when you watch your DVD extras and see these interviews with the actors, and you discover to your amazement that someone like Tom Wilkinson, in real life, is not some bad ass at all but is instead someone who talks about his "muse", and gets very animated about Shakespeare, and waxes romantic about some theatrical golden age, and so on? And you're like "This is the real Tom Wilkinson?" "A art-house fruit whose dinner table conversation is probably completely insufferable?" "Tom, Tom! Say it ain't so!"

Tom Wilkinson: Bad Ass

Fooled you!

And it gets worse. The guy in the film who plays his son was his school's drama-club weirdo. The guy playing the villain was his school's drama-club weirdo. The entire cast was each, individually, their own high school's sensitive, fruity, drama-club weirdo. Down to the last carefully coiffed guy. And these our our idols! Our sex objects! Our national celebrities who have the ear of the entire media whenever they have any opinion on politics, culture and law! The drama club clique!

The problem, at the most fundamental level, is that those who become actors were drawn to it at this impressionable high school level - and not because they were particularly good at it. No one has a childhood where the dad says "Wow son, you sure do know how to act! Have you considered studying it and maybe pursuing it as a career?" Not a chance. Rather than ability, it's a defect of ego and character that draws someone to dramatic performance - these people who constantly need to show off, be the center of attention and get a round of applause. If it was really about talent, then the high school drama coach would be more like the football coach. He'd try you out, tell you honestly that you had no talent, and you'd be gone. But the drama coach admires your passion and wants to nurture it, no matter what your abilities.

I say we elect a new profession as the pool of talent for all future movie casting, future celebrities and commentators on politics and culture. How about locksmiths? It can be like a rotating stewardship. I guarantee the acting would be better and the characters more authentic.

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