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Can we please stop complaining about actors being portrayed as people they are not identical to?


Can we please stop complaining about actors being cast as people they don’t look like?

Getty Images / InStyle

Today in small annoyances that have absolutely no impact on my life or that of almost anyone else: actors who play real characters with whom they are not identical. Yeah, that’s the hill I want to die on over the weekend.

It was announced on Thursday evening that Rooney Mara would star in and produce an Audrey Hepburn biopic directed by Luca Guadagnino that is under development at Apple. I saw the headline and thought, “Great, strong source material, lots of talent, sounds good.” The next morning I became aware of the other story. People are upset that Lily Collins, whose resemblance to Hepburn is undeniable, didn’t win the role.

First, we don’t have all the information. Would Collins have been offered the role but not able to take it due to a scheduling conflict? For sure. But the bigger problem here is the idea that physical similarity is the most important factor in casting. As Lady Gaga will tell you over and over in different and increasingly theatrical ways, acting is “not an imitation, it is a becoming”.

The same argument arose (over and over) when Nicole Kidman was cast as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. People immediately railed against the news, arguing that similar-looking comedian Debra Messing should have won the role – Messing herself announced that she was “available” for the project. The setback was so intense that Kidman began to doubt her own ability to play the role. Note: the film is not a reboot of I Love Lucy (which brass might have been better suited for). Being the Ricardos is a drama that focuses on the couple of actors at the core of the sitcom when the cameras were not rolling. Kidman’s performance has earned her 12 acting nominations.

Can we please stop complaining about actors being cast as people they don't look like?

Can we please stop complaining about actors being cast as people they don’t look like?


A similar outcry was heard when Lily James was cast as Pamela Anderson on the Hulu original series Pam & Tommy. Arguably best known for her role as the title princess in Disney’s live-action Cinderella, the British actress is not what fans (or anyone, really) had in mind to portray the luscious Baywatch star. But oh, the magic of acting! And hair and makeup! I mean, haven’t we really learned anything from every Jared Leto performance? With a platinum blonde look and disgustingly thin ’90s eyebrows, James is a dead wrestler for Anderson. And if the show’s trailer is to be believed, it also has Anderson’s voice and mannerisms.

The story goes on

RELATED: Being The Ricardos tells the scandalous story of Lucy’s real-life pregnancy

Can we please stop complaining about actors being cast as people they don't look like?

Can we please stop complaining about actors being cast as people they don’t look like?

Erin Simkin / Hulu

This is not to say that certain considerations should not be given when it comes to finding the right actor for a job. Representation is still important, but that’s not the point. Within the range of suitable actors for a role (which must include race, gender identity and skills), skills should come first. 1 factor. Of course, Hollywood is an industry, and talent is rarely the bottom line – hell, even my high school theater department seemed to operate on a politics-first mentality.

But that’s the basis of what annoys me. The bulk of the castings people complain about include talented actors who have more than shown their breadth. Awards aren’t always a sign of talent, but Kidman has an Oscar and four nominations for their worth. And have you seen the Moulin Rouge !? Have you seen The Hours ?? Have you seen destroyers ??? If anyone could play a tree convincingly, it would be them. And Rooney Mara? Are. She. Joking. Me. Are you showing me an unconvincing performance from Rooney Mara? You can not. Your version of “Classroom Girl # 1” in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary? Iconic.

These actors aren’t even cast against the type. Mara looks like Hepburn. If Jennifer Coolidge were cast as Hepburn, maybe we could talk. To be honest, I would love to pay to see this movie.

TL; DR: Against all odds, acting is actually acting.


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