Last week BEE spoke with Tom Sizemore
(9/15/14) about the place character actors hold in the current film industry. I wasn’t going to post this but then this other thing came out on The Playlist today and it seems more relevant than before.
This subject has been on my mind for a while, a discussion I’ve had with friends — that the changed film landscape in the US also has to do with a changed acting pool — that with film projects say pre-2000 or mid 90s, all looks and types of people, not traditionally handsome or necessarily beautiful people, had an opportunity to act as leads or in large supporting roles (for a living), and maybe a lot of the leading actors of the previous generation weren’t even considered (as) good looking before they became famous - it was their stardom that made them so. Would Keitel or DeNiro get all their roles today? Dustin Hoffman, or Cagney? Or Nicholson, even, given his hairline? Where would Lily Tomlin be? Or Shelley Duvall for that matter?
As Tobey Maguire and Ed Zwick mention in the following interview excerpt, the majority of opportunities for young American actors are primarily in network television, where attractiveness often trumps acting chops. I’m betting a lot of interesting faces who might have considered an acting career twenty years ago don’t even attempt to make a go of it now, recognizing that that just isn’t what the industry is anymore.
"Movies now have more to do with an aesthetic, than they do with a performance," Maguire said. "Growing up, it was always my ambition to work with great actors and great directors, and it was Leo[nardo DiCaprio]'s ambition, too, so that's what we were focused on and aiming for. Parts like those start to shape you as an actor, and they shape people's perception of you, too. Leo going into 'This Boy's Life' at 15 years old and working with Robert De Niro, that shapes the rest of his career — and the studios aren’t [making] many movies like that anymore.”
Ed Zwick, who directed "Pawn Sacrifice" and did the interview with Maguire, sees the rush of franchise projects as particularly damaging as well. “There's a poaching of young people where they're put into CW television shows, and they learn bad habits. They're given too much responsibility too quickly, and without the opportunity to work with these great directors that Tobey and Leo had. Young actors used to be cast as the third lead opposite stars like Spencer Tracy or Henry Fonda, and they had apprenticeships of a kind, learning their craft. That doesn't happen now.”
“If Leo and I were young now, I'd still aspire to work with great people, but those jobs don't exist anymore. I would feel like my only opportunities were in YA franchises and superhero movies. You can hold out for something better only for so long until you're like, Okay, I need a job!”
It depresses me. This is half the reason why the American film market has turned to shit.