Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Characters vs. Actors

Do you ever see characters in TV or movies that you really like, but when you see interviews of the actor or see them play other roles, it kind of ruins it for you?

For example, I really like Chris Hemsworth playing Thor. The beard, the hair, the voice, the mannerisms--but when I see him in other roles, I get rather bored with it. I can't take him as seriously. I think it's due, in part, to the fact that he looks like a college student. Thor looks like he wants to rule a kingdom. Hemsworth looks like he wants to attend a frat party.

This one is pretty obvious, but I found Ledger's characterization of The Joker to be much more fascinating than any of his other roles. The Joker had such a charm and twisted charisma that he made Ledger's other performances bland by comparison.

The role of the 10th Doctor gave David Tennant so much freedom to take what I think is his own natural personality, and magnify it to almost caricature-like levels of himself. He was allowed to switch fluidly between his goofball delightfulness and his doomed-Earth seriousness at any given moment. His hair had a mind of its own. His fashion style was silly yet debonair. To me, seeing Tennant in his other roles is like watching watered-down versions of the Doctor.

I don't actually mind Rainn Wilson as an actor or as himself--but it feels, to me, like Dwight Schrute has far more depth to his personality than Wilson has. There are so many absurd levels of Schrute, from his nerdiness, to his dedication to agriculture and tradition, to his delusions of grandeur with karate, police work, protocols and love-making, and even to his day-to-day cartoonish antics. Rainn Wilson is an intelligent level-headed guy, but Dwight Schrute is an entire complex and interesting world of personality.

This, I believe, is what actors should be about. Inventing characters that people want to watch. Even if a story is bland, solid characters really help to give it some life. But even an awesome story can be ruined by bad to mediocre characterization.