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Tony Grist

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I Agree With Matt [Oct. 11th, 2015|01:11 pm]
Tony Grist
Matt Damon was asked the other day about Hollywood stars who are in or out of the closet and he said he thought it was better for audiences if they knew nothing about the private lives of actors.

This got him into terrible trouble with the hosts of people who scour the media in the hope of being offended-  and they jumped in to say it was alright for him as a straight white man and blah, blah, blah.... But- putting all that aside- I like the point I think he was trying to make. Actors are in the business of pretending to be people they're not- and the more we know about them as everyday people the harder it is for them to pull the wool over over eyes.   There's a reason why the ancient Greek actors- who started the ball rolling- wore masks.

Apparently Matt Damon is married with kids. I didn't know that. And now I do know it I could wish I didn't. If I'm watching him in a film I want to believe he's serial killer X or heroic astronaut Y. Knowing that- as soon as the camera stops rolling- he reverts to being a loving husband and father doesn't help the game of lets pretend. In fact it rather detracts from it.

Some actors- and Matt isn't one of them- have such enormously public private lives that it becomes very hard to see them as anyone but their off-screen selves. In the past there were Burton and Taylor. Who could watch them together- even in their better films like Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf- and forget how very married to one another they were? Today there's Tom Cruise. I like Tom as an actor- I even think he's under-rated- but his attempts to convince me he's a super-dooper secret agent  or somebody's straight-arrow, blue-collar dad are undermined by everything I know about the Scientology and the wives and the jumping about on furniture.

I was reading an interview with Anne-Marie Duff this morning. Actually it wasn't so much an interview as a stitch-up. Duff was resenting having to make polite conversation about herself- and let it show- and the interviewer was trying to win our sympathy and get us to gang up against her.  But really why should Duff have to submit graciously to all this impertinence? They say it's part of the job these days-  but it shouldn't be. Actors strip themselves bare in their performances- and that's enough. Let them retain a certain anonymity off stage. Duff was a brilliant St Joan- that's all I need to know. Who cares where she went to school or who her husband is!

[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2015-10-11 12:35 pm (UTC)
I have told this story before - I saw Peter O'Toole in interviewed on a (very old!) Dick Cavett show. He bit his nails and fidgeted in his seat and fiddled with his hair. Cavett finally asked him what was the problem and he said he didn't LIKE being 'himself' in front of the camera, he'd always been able to hide behind someone else.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-10-11 12:47 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, exactly.

And Peter Sellers was once asked to speak in "his own voice" and he said he didn't know what that was.

O'Toole also hid behind bad behaviour. We're learning- from various sources- just what a complete bastard he was.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2015-10-11 02:00 pm (UTC)
He hit a nail with this.
That's also another reason to be turned off the big Hollywood movies. Because it's always the same faces again and you might think "I now saw him as this, this and this - all very contradicting". And if you know pieces of an actor's private life, because it's a person that doesn't spare with it or the press doesn't do it, additionally to it, then credibility finally hits below zero.
That's why I prefer it if some new unknown faces or faces which don't belong to the front row are taken for roles.

But, thinking about it, I'd guess this has very much to do with the American Hollywood hype.
Most of the other countries you don't have these crazes, or at least they circle around a very overseeable amount of people.
It's just mainly the circumstance that US culture in any way is honored above all throughout the world. And in the United States, one knows how they keep if with the "freedom of the press" - everyone's permitted to write everything as long as you don't touch the wrong topics or a person sues you over what you have written.
It's literally like Third Reich Germany had conquered the world and they had turned the place Potsdam-Babelsberg into their dream factory from which they had spread their political and their cultural propaganda all over the world.
And all of the world would see it as a metropolis of culture.

Edited at 2015-10-11 02:01 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-10-11 03:10 pm (UTC)
It's about playing safe. If an actor has made a success of one role, you offer him another. I see it in British TV too. The same familiar faces keep turning up again and again.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2015-10-11 03:31 pm (UTC)
Here I'd say this also is the case.
Problem with it additionally is - try finding something different than German Krimi (crime series) what they still film on their own. If you don't take that, or your face just doesn't suit that kind of genre, you're dead as an actor which wants to appear in the media (theater would be another option, but often doesn't apply if you don't have been to some drama school).

The playing safe thing from the side of those which make a production, I get. But, on the other hand, I'd say, even as a producer yourself, you also must get upon the idea to integrate somebody new because your audience could be bored. Audience that is bored is also a factor for selling works to the public.
By the way, the established actors also never become younger again. Sometime also people die. What are you gonna do if you always rely on the same people?
Anytime you become forced to choose new faces because of natural reasons.
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From: artkouros
2015-10-11 03:21 pm (UTC)
I miss the old days when Hollywood controlled the images you saw of actors, on screen and off.
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[User Picture]From: negothick
2015-10-11 03:34 pm (UTC)
Not to be teaching the collectivity here how to suck eggs, but there is a difference between an actor and a movie star. The latter are assumed to be playing themselves, regardless of the name of their role. That's why we still refer to "John Wayne Westerns" rather than "The Searchers" or whatever. When John Wayne played a non-cowboy, he was praised for being a great actor! Tom Cruise may be the last of the old-time movie stars, which is why his private life is of so much interest. Actors playing heroes were supposed to BE heroes--which is why Hollywood didn't want audiences to know that Rock Hudson was not the devastating lady's man he played on the screen. And it went both ways. Ronald Reagan believed he WAS the roles he played--as shown when he referred to fighting in World War II, which he did only onscreen.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-10-11 04:05 pm (UTC)
I think Wayne was a pretty good actor, actually- and capable of considerable range. There's a world of difference between the fatherly cavalry officer of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and the psychopathic outsider of The Searchers. He was a lazy actor- happy to play the John Wayne persona in a whole lot of forgettable movies- but if you pushed him- as John Ford usually did- he could really deliver.
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From: artkouros
2015-10-11 05:11 pm (UTC)
This is why I admire Meryl Streep so much. I've never seen an actor become a character the way she can.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-10-11 03:54 pm (UTC)
They don't make stars like they used to.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-10-11 05:24 pm (UTC)
I'd love to have seen it.
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[User Picture]From: howlin_wolf_66
2015-10-12 12:37 pm (UTC)
He's right - but, if you're a good enough actor, I still feel like it's easy enough for the audience to get past it...

Gary Oldman could live next door to me, and I could be popping in and out of his house on a regular basis [I wish!] and I feel like that wouldn't make some of his transformations of the past any less amazing... If you're committed to the role, and you BECOME the character - rather than adopting affectations - then that will pull the audience in, no matter how much they know about you...

It just takes more hard work, so privacy is a shorthand for achieving the same effect.

... and of course sometimes the off-screen life merely adds to or subverts what's on the screen... There is that, too. Actors play with their image, all the time. Good work can be done from within the narrow confines of typecasting; heck, it's what the studio system was built upon, and it didn't do some of those films any harm. :-)

I agree that the revealing of personal details shouldn't be seen as a 'requirement', though - it should be left up to the individual.

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