How Casting Will Help You Land Your Dream Role
Acting as a profession is as old as time itself. Since time immemorial, actors have been bracing the stage to pour out their hearts and give the audience a different perspective of various stories. If you go back to the history of acting, you’ll notice it goes far back as storytelling itself. Essentially, this is because acting is storytelling brought to life.
Today, there are more actors than any general time in history. This has helped open up the acting industry, and more opportunities are available now more than ever. At the same time, acting is one of the most profitable professions today. Production houses are making billions every year, and actors are not left behind either. Some of the most wealthy and influential voices today are actors.
However, this popularity of the film industry has also brought forth stiff competition. Since most people want to delve into acting, getting an acting gig is more challenging.
Unfortunately, many new actors have a hard time penetrating the industry. While several factors can hinder your success as an actor, the biggest is casting.
What is casting, and how can you, as an actor, ensure you ace the casting call and kick start your career?
What is casting?
Let’s start off by looking at what casting is.
Put in the simplest of words, casting is the pre-production process of selecting a specific type of actor, singer, dancer, or extra character within a particular role in performing acts. Casting applies in film, television, and theatre.
Have you ever watched a movie that was so real, it felt like the actor was born to play the role? Well, through casting, you’re able to get the best talent to match the character being played.
As a budding actor, you’ll need to perfect the art of being cast in the right movies. Some actors spend years auditioning for roles they are not best suited for. This leads to a lot of frustration, and even when they are finally cast, the audience can tell this role was unsuitable for them. On the opposite end, some actors are greatly talented but spend years auditioning to small roles, while they can have their talents land them a leading role.
Thus, defining your casting will help you prepare for the perfect role and, consequently, could lead to your big break.
Defining your casting
As said before, some roles appear like they were built with a specific actor in mind. In some instances, this is the case. For example, some of the roles created for specific actors include; Robert Downey Junior as Iron Man, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, and so on. These actors have portrayed the roles to perfection that fans sometimes have difficulty differentiating the actor from the role played.
This is, in essence, the beauty of casting. Getting the right role shines your abilities as an actor. Moreover, you don’t have to be bound by physical attributes. For long, it was believed that certain actors who were deemed and beautiful or handsome, had better chances of being cast. However, while there is some truth to this, one cannot dispute there’s more to acting than just appearances.
Take Robert Downey Junior, for instance. Before he was cast as Iron Man, he was considered to be a struggling actor. However, with that one role, RDJ has become one of the most recognizable actors in the world.
The question then arises; how do you set yourself up for success?
The answer is as simple as it is complex. Since acting is a profession like any other, you first have to define the roles that suit you.
To start off, start by looking at actors that you admire, or the genre you’d like to get into. Would you like to get into comedy, drama, or action? This is a key step in casting. To look at it from another angle, certain actors immediately pop to mind when you think of comedic movies or dramatic movies. These actors have perfected their roles so much, that now, they have little to no struggle getting a role in their genre.
This, however, does not mean you have to be bound to one type of movie. Let’s have a look at Johnny Depp to better illustrate this. He has played different roles in various genres. From being in science fiction works such as Pirates of the Caribbean, to starring in The Tourist, an action film. While these roles are relatively different, they both landed Johnny Depp nominations in acclaimed awards -the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. This shows that it is possible to have a wide range of the types of movies you would like to feature in.
At the same time, however, you be wary of being perceived as a certain kind of actor for the rest of your career. This is what we refer to as typecasting –being assigned the same old roles in movies.
Some of the popular actors who have been victims of typecasting include; Alec Baldwin who is usually arrogant and unlikeable, Samuel L. Jackson who is cast as the rebellious character who doesn’t give a hoot, Jim Carrey who is the village idiot, Jennifer Aniston as the hopeless romantic, and Cameron Diaz as the sweet and funny girl.
From the fear of being typecast, some actors have expressively turned down roles that were too on the nose for their image. For example, Brian Cranston went from playing the goofy loveable dad in the hit series Malcolm in the Middle to the drug kingpin in Breaking Bad.
Landing the perfect role
In order to land the ideal role, there are a few factors to consider. These could range from getting the right headshot to building upon requisite skills. To land the right role for you, you need to start off by asking yourself a few questions. These questions will help you lean towards your strengths. Some of these questions include;
- What kind of stories are you looking to tell with your characters?
- What kind of roles do you enjoy portraying?
- What skills can help you advance?
If you compare actors like Will Ferrell and Keanu Reeves, you’ll notice a lot of differences. While both are acclaimed actors, they have very different styles of acting, and therefore, different personas. From back in the day with movies like Speed and The Matrix, to recent films like John Wick, Keanu Reeves has created a no-nonsense persona that everyone identifies him with. On the other end, Will Ferrell is recognized for his comedic, witty, and ad-lib characters, as seen in movies such as Megamind, Wedding Crashers, The Lego Movies, The Internship, and so on.
These actors seem to have a clear understanding of what they do and how they want to be perceived. For instance, Will Ferrell grew his comedic and ad-lib skills by being in productions such as Saturday Night Live (SNL).
Once you have defined the kind of stories you want to be associated with, you then have to look at the roles you enjoy doing or those that come naturally to you. A good example is to look at actors known for their comedic works. You’ll notice most of these actors either have a background in comedy or sharpened their skills in comedy. Some of the most known comedic actors who also feature in stand-up comedy include Eddie Murphy, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg,
This is not to say that, for instance, if you can’t tell jokes, that you’re not suited for funny movies. There are countless ways to build your skills in the areas you want to focus on.
Other aspects, such as having the right headshot, will also help you in casting for the right roles. If you want to be cast in a serious movie, your headshots will likely be official and polished as opposed to quirky and out of the box shots if you’re going to be cast in comedies.
Turning down a role
When you’re an upcoming actor, you’re looking to get any role that will help you break into the industry. However, some of the roles you’re handed may not be in line with the kind of character you would like to portray. And here comes the hardest part of any new actor’s career; turning down a role.
If you feel the role you’ve been cast doesn’t rightly reflect your image, or you think it might hurt your future chances, it is okay to turn down the role. However, you should consult widely before making such a decision.
Emily Blunt is an excellent example to model after. When she started her acting career, she was also pursuing music –and she has the voice for it too! She, however, had to choose between the two. At the time she made the choice, she was working on a movie with Judi Dench. Emily approached Judi, seeking advice on what path to follow, Judi advised her to drop one and focus on the other. Today, Emily Blunt thanks Judi Dench for helping her focus on her acting career.
Ultimately, casting is stepping into the shoes of a character and giving them life. You can increase your chances of being cast in the right movie by defining what you want and working towards it.
Good luck, and see you on the big screen!