Typecast: A sufferer’s story
When the last three parts I auditioned for were all characters called Malcolm I put it down to a bizarre co-incidence. When it became four straight Malcolms, I had to accept, with growing horror, that I had become Typecast. This is not a problem if you’re Daniel Craig and the general public see you as an attractive secret agent/sex object. But think of the psychological impact of the world deciding the name that most suits your face is…‘Malcolm’.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and say, ‘My name is Malcolm’, or, ‘Hello Malcolm’, to see if it looks normal. No ever chooses to be a Malcolm. I would not wish ‘Malcolm’ upon anyone.
I suppose I should be grateful for the Malcolms now, as when I get into my 40’s the Malcolms will become Brians and Dennis’. Then in my 50’s I’ll be lucky to get a couple of Clives, then eventually I will die, forgotten as the man who once played Malcolms.
One evening whilst I was sitting on the sofa sulking about being stuck in the prison of my own face, I was temporarily distracted by one of the recent spates of Hollywood superhero films. Immediately I was struck by just how endemic the disease of Typecast had become, as before each character had even spoken in the film I immediately knew their role, not because of the music or the costumes, but because of their faces. Thousands of actors condemned to roles by what type of eyes they had.
Who decided that all psychopaths have to look as if they might be related to Roy Keane, that all leading men have to have symmetrical features designed by robots, all love interests have to possess flawless faces as well as being least at five years younger than their lovers, and all funny girls have to be less beautiful and less glamorous than the female lead? This ‘looks’ rulebook seems to have been passed down from Hollywood and onto our screens in every programme, and what was more depressing was that I understood these rules and this language of looks. But, despite understanding the character language of the film, it could not escape the fact that it was total rubbish.
I was a big fan of the Danish series ‘The Killing’, and yet the American remake left me completely cold. Why was the Danish series so superior? The bleak setting, the graded out shots, or even the subtitles forcing me to pay attention to every single word of dialogue? No doubt this all played a part, but after talking about it this with my friends we arrived at the same conclusion; the Danish actors were just far more interesting, I didn’t know who they were or their complete life stories within the first two seconds of seeing them on my screen. This did stem from the great writing, the quality of acting, I admit that, but the fact that ‘The Killing’ wasn’t clogged up with photofit faces signposting every facet of character was a refreshing change.
My anti-photofit face argument can be proven to be 100% correct, by harkening back to the 70/80’s cop shows. The greatest era for TV detectives, and none of them had magazine cover faces – Columbo, Maverick, Cagney & Lacey, Quincey, Juliet Bravo, were all loved and immortalized in our minds but the crags and quirks that littered their faces made them all the more interesting than most Hollywood leads.
Casting directors and TV dickheads – only you can break down this regime of faces that is threatening the very fabric of our society. Get some imagination! Audiences aren’t as stupid as you think they are. People are infinitely more interesting than how they look. Where do you start? What better place than with the Malcolms. I want to see pop star Malcolms, racing driver Malcolms, sex symbol Malcolms, serial killer Malcolms. Most importantly, please bear me in mind when considering applications for all of these roles.
Marek Larwood’s show Typecast will be on 1-26 August, 6.20pm at Pleasance CourtyardTagged in: acting, Arts, culture, edinburgh festival, film, Typecasting
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