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The Decline of the American Actor

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  • Briana Breeze
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    #190187

    I recently came across this article from The Atlantic discussing how American actors have become less of a standard in the world of acting while non-American actors are becoming more of the standard in acting.

    Thoughts? Discuss.

    Here’s the link to the article: 
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/decline-american-actor/395291/ 

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    OnTheAisle
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    #190189

    I read the article. I think it borders being xenophobic and is ultimately pointless.

    Noted critic Terrence Rafferty begins by proposing that if The Godfather were made today, it would be like Selma and most likely have the major roles played by actors who are from other nations.

    In a recent speech at the Tisch School for the Arts, Robert De Niro got a laugh stating how he had wanted to play civil rights leader King in Selma. While the idea is ludicrous, I can’t help but suspect that De Niro would have been pretty damn good in the role, certainly better than the string of rather uninteresting comedies he has been featured in for the past decade or so.

    This debate is old news. Film has always welcomed foreign actors. The tired argument pitting the classically trained British thespian over the photogenic American movie star has existed for years. Naturally, both actors have a place in film, and those American trained actors (Yale-trained Streep, for example) might challenge Rafferty’s broad generalizations used here.

    I did not find the article one of merit. When do we accept that the strength of our country is based on an immigrant culture and a celebration of all peoples? Writer Terrence Rafferty is not Presidential candidate Donald Trump. It’s just sad that he seems to want to be.

     

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    babypook
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    #190190

    This.^

    We live in a global community, afterall. I wouldnt say Rafferty’s backyard is very large.

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    Pavel Romanov
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    #190191

    The counter argument would be: But what opportunities do American actors have to work in British film? Is the playing field level there? I can’t recall any in some of the most recent major British productions (Skyfall, The King’s Speech, Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Anna Karenina or any Mike Leigh film). Was JK Rowling being xenophobic and anti-American when she mandated that no American actors be cast in any role in the Harry Potter films?

    There was a recent article in The Guardian about this ‘British Invasion’ of Hollywood and how casting directors seem to prefer Brits (especially males).

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    Nessie
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    #190192

    As a Brit, the predominance of British (and Australian and Irish) actors has astounded me. If there are many great British actors, it is difficult to understand why unknown British actors keep getting cast in the best roles, playing Americans. They are obviously depriving American actors of the roles they need to build their careers.

    Most glaring (and least justifiable) examples for me: Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl and Jack O’Connell in Unbroken. Both were good, nothing more, and there were certainly good American actors who could have played those roles. And neither one has any box office pull at all – they were as marginally unknown in the UK as they were in the US.

    Selma and 12 Years were flagrant: weren’t African American actors furious at being passed over for such choice roles?

    It seems obvious that the British contingent in the Academy is overrepresented. Out of 25 of the new actors invited to join the Academy this year, 10 were Brits or Aussies. That’s severely exaggerated I think and translates into directors and producers thinking that casting a British actor will ensure Academy attention. Or is it an American version of cultural cringe? Harvey Weinstein certainly has contributed to the issue. Doesn’t SAG intervene in any of this? I can assure you the same thing doesn’t happen in the UK with American actors.

    Claiming American actors are inferior and British actors better trained is somewhat disingenuous. Some of the greatest American actors never went to acting school (and a great many British actors who do, are never able to shed their tendency to overact which is more in keeping with a theatrical performance than on film). And young American actors are deprived of the roles that would help them earn their stripes.

    Here’s the link to The Guardian’s article.
     
    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jul/05/us-rallies-to-stop-uk-taking-hollywood-by-storm 

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    AMG
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    #190193

    Because the American film industry is much bigger than the British one. The number of British films being made each year is so much lower than that of US films. But actors still come through with immense talent. If they can’t get work here, then they will go over to America to find some. Also 12 Years a Slave was made by a British director, and part funded by the UK industry in the form of Film4. The best actors should get the jobs, if they are becoming more likely to be British then so be it. Where they were born should not factor in if they can do the job just as good as, or better than an American.

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    TomHardys
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    #190194

    Rosamund Pike’s performance is iconic. Good luck trying to imagine any other actress doing it with the same raw coldness and precise sharpness she did.

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    Nessie
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    #190195

    Because the American film industry is much bigger than the British one. The number of British films being made each year is so much lower than that of US films. But actors still come through with immense talent. If they can’t get work here, then they will go over to America to find some. Also 12 Years a Slave was made by a British director, and part funded by the UK industry in the form of Film4. The best actors should get the jobs, if they are becoming more likely to be British then so be it. Where they were born should not factor in if they can do the job just as good as, or better than an American.

    My view is the US film industry doesn’t owe every actor who has ever appeared on Eastenders (or Neighbours) a living! Honestly, I can understand some British actors picking off roles, but it has become almost embarrassing the number of (mainly) British actors who are playing Americans while young American actors are not getting the roles they need to develop.

    We used to always get cast as villains – which was as amusing as it was annoying, especially all the Nazis – but now we’re everywhere. I think this could end up in a backlash that will harm all British actors.

    British Actors’ Equity wouldn’t put up with this – why does SAG?

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    Nessie
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    #190196

    Rosamund Pike’s performance is iconic. Good luck trying to imagine any other actress doing it with the same raw coldness and precise sharpness she did.

    We’ll certainly have to disagree on that one. A blank stare is not a performance. Have you seen Pike interviewed? She was just playing herself to a large degree, posh and without expression – a bit like Ben Affleck was. Her voice was totally lacking in expression in GG, it seemed like she was trying so hard to do an American accent everything else about the performance fell by the wayside. And yet she got an Oscar nomination for it, proving once again the British bias at the Academy. And I am a Brit, so if I’m complaining about it, I can’t imagine how American actors feel.

    As for another actress playing the role, January Jones does a mean line in blank stares and has shown more range in Mad Men than Pike has in her chequered career as a bit player. But Jones is an American TV actress and Pike is a (former) British TV actress, so for the powers-that-be in Hollywood these days that means that Pike is superior. The actress who is currently impressing me the most is Keri Russell on The Americans (and she’s playing opposite a Welsh actor playing a Russian playing an American – and he’s excellent, won’t complain about him). I never knew who Russell was before (I think she’s been mainly in American TV series I’ve never seen), but her cold-blooded performance is a killer. She could also have pulled off Amazing Amy easily.

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    AMG
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    #190197

    The overwhelming majority of actors from Eastenders and Neighbours arent now working in America. Most are signed up to go into a jungle, a house in Hertford or on a dance floor before doing their annual bout of panto. But like I said, the best get the roles. If young Americans arent good enough then that’s on them. It’s a cut throat industry. Also what about the number of non Brits in James Bond. Surely that’s not fair by this logic, because its a British film dynasty that has actors from around the world starring in it. Give the jobs to Brits. And the number of roles on American film and television is staggeringly higher than the amount on offer here. A jobbing actor is going to go where there is work. The vast amount of work is in America.

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    Riley
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    #190198

    That article went everywhere.  I mean, he started off talking about how the Brits are taking all of the good roles and ended with two paragraphs of praise for Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

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    Nessie
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    #190199

    That article went everywhere.  I mean, he started off talking about how the Brits are taking all of the good roles and ended with two paragraphs of praise for Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

    It was an odd, almost embarrassed article. In the UK for years (or at least since Chariots of Fire) we have loved to claim the Brits were taking over Hollywood (beating the Americans at their own game!). But there is a question of basic fairness. Maybe as well a question of union busting which doesn’t sit well with me as a hardcore Old Labourite! It’s is wonderful to root for a few Brits making it in America, but when it seems like the majority of “Oscar bait” roles are going to Brits (especially Brits like Pike and O’Connell who are certainly not more talented than their American counterparts) it’s a form of snobbism I find offensive.

    I mean who can explain the careers of Chris Helmsworth or, my favourite, the astonishingly untalented Henry Cavill?

    A lot of the Brit actors are very posh public school boys who had been out of style in the UK since the 60s. They seem to have been reborn in the States and I’m not sure that’s an acting tradition that should be encouraged! 

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    Pavel Romanov
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    #190200

    No one answered my original question: was JK Rowling xenophobic for mandating that no American actors be cast in the Harry Potter films?

    There seems to be a double standard at play here – the British film industry because it is “small” can close its doors to qualified American actors but the American industry can’t.

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    Nessie
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    #190201

    Yes, Rowling would only allow Warner Bros. to film the series if they used only British actors – no Americans. I can understand that she meant that more to support the British film industry than as a xenophobic gesture (though it may well have been).

    I don’t think Americans mind if Brits play Brits, but when Brits start picking off juicy roles playing Americans, it is bound to end up causing controversy.

    One has only to recall Cumberbatch and McGregor’s performances in August Osage County to doubt the wisdom of giving them green cards! 

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    tennisfreak
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    #190202

    I’m frightened by kids on skateboards who won’t STAY OFF MY DAMN LAWN! That’s the real threat to our culture!

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