I think charisma is a big part of it. I can think of several actors/actresses who are quite attractive but are otherwise quite bland.
It worked for Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thorton.
Ah, but you can think of them.
LA is filled FILLED FILLED with fit attractive people. There are thousands upon thousands of them. They live in the gym. What gets actors in big movies is big agents or family connections or family money (armie hammer, mara sisters). Many others were born around the LA area and their parents pushed them from an early age.
The Hemsworths live in the same hood as Billy Ray cyrus. Not sure if thats how they met or how they got there. Family wealth maybe?
Except when they do. It’s fairly rare, I think I saw it happen maybe three or four times in my near decade as an extra. But there were times when giving an extra a line to say was what was needed for the scene. In one case the extra was kept on for several more days of work, all at the day player rate instead of the paltry extra rate.
Except thats not what I said. Extras almost never transition to actors. So aspiring actors would do well to avoid extra work.
I think you’ve got to be more than pretty if you intend on being a working actor. Being able to deliver a line convincingly takes skill.
But then again… Keanu Reeves … so who knows.
Andie MacDowell seems like someone who found parts that fit with her somewhat wooden acting style. As the prim woman in Sex, Lies… or the ideal for Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, they fit within her very limited range and exploited her luminous beauty…
But is being “Woman in diner” really a significant step up from “extra”, career-wise? Sure, that’ll mean they’ll have to pay you guild rates for that brief time they’re using you, but will it lead to anyone calling you back?
And on the other hand, while the odds are dismal to go from extra to actor, the odds are dismal to go from anything to actor. Is being an extra any worse than any other potential route?
There is a prejudice in the industry against background. Its illogical but its there. The best way is still through auditions and the stage.
For some it is, for some it isn’t. Its such a crapshoot to succeed in Hollywood that you can’t point to any one thing as good enough. More likely, its a combination of looks, talent, determination, connections, and plain old luck.
Is being extremely charismatic enough to get by in politics? Is being extremely smart enough to get by in academia? Is being extremely hard working enough to get by in business?
Having the right raw materials helps, and can help a lot, but reaching the highest levels of success in any competitive field pretty much always requires a mix of talent, networking, dedication, and luck.
There are tons of great looking people all the way down the coast to Mexico. It’s as if they put the ugly people in out of sight concentration camps. It’s truly astonishing, and I felt like an unwashed potato just pulled from the dirt.
But they’re not all working actors, so no, it’s not enough. It’s more like a minimum.
A lot if not most celebrities are not that attractive in their natural state either. Makeup and skilled photography create the illusion that they are more attractive than they would be if you met them on the street in everyday clothes. Many celebrities are almost unrecognizable in casual settings or unposed photos without their makeup crew around. They may be a little more attractive than the average American but that is only because a big part of their job is staying in good shape and some of them cannot even manage that. Even the A-list celebrities have some generally undesirable physical features. Many of the men including Tom Cruise are short, Cameron Diaz has adult acne and so on.
For example, here is a short acting exercise that Tom Cruise used to train for the movie Collateral He dressed up as a UPS driver and delivered a package to a crowded market. Despite having significant conversations with several people, nobody recognized him at all. That shows what good actors can do in terms of glamour both ways.
'Woman in Diner" who says one line is better than “Woman in Diner” who says nothing. The speaking role goes on your official resume, and listed in IMDB. Plus that lovely residual money. I’ve been “featured” in many tv shows and movies, but since I was never given a line, it doesn’t go on my official resume. It was kind of fun to come to my day job and have a coworkers say “I saw you on TV last night - or at least I saw your hair!” (I got a lot of work because of my long hair.)
And I chose to do background work because I was already SAG, and had been laid off from my banking job. I wanted something flexible while I looked for the perfect new day job, and a combination of temping and background work was perfect for me. I had some great experiences, and made some good friends. I stopped doing background work for personal reasons (elderly inlaws and chronically ill husband needed my attention, and I wanted to do more theatre) but my plan is to retire fairly early and go back to doing background work.
I’ve thought about this a fair amount. Not the looks angle so much : I consider it obvious that looks are not sufficient: look at all the absolutely gorgeous women who make porn films. If looks and the ability to speak lines were all that was required, they’d be in mainstream films and TV shows, if they wanted to, and I bet a fair number of them would. (To be fair, a few have made the jump: famous B-movie scream queen Michelle Bauer started out doing bondage porn. Sybell Kikelli, who had a major part in Game of Thrones as Tyrion’s mistress started out in porn.)
But I think acting ability plus looks IS key. There are certain actresses who know their craft cold. Others who are capable but not great, but lucky. And almost everyone in Hollywood looks very good. That’s kind of ground-floor stuff.
It didn’t work for Bates when they were casting “Frankie and Johnny”
Not just a speaking role, pushing up to where you get principal credit. I don’t think many directors appreciate an extra disrupting the set to try to be anything but. They I’ve read posts from extras who think that it is the best job, for the most part they’d get speaking roles through auditions like anyone else.
Hold it right there. You talk like making commercials is a bad thing. The topic is getting by in Hollywood, and you can often get by better in commercials than in legit productions. Let’s say you get a role in one episode of a series versus in a commercial. Both will pay pretty much the same union scale. But the series may repeat a few times, and you might get a tiny bit of money for DVDs. A commercial can repeat a bunch of times a day. Residuals will pay your rent.
Cartoon seen in an agent’s waiting room: typical starlet, reclining on a couch, talking to older man with stars in her eyes: “Tell me about residuals again.”
Getting by means making a good living, not being the lead in a series or a household name. All the Warriors make a good living, not just Steph Curry.
Doesn’t it depend on career goals? I like Lily from AT&T’s ads, but I’d have trouble separating her from that in a movie. On the other hand, Justin Long overcame being a Mac. It’s tricky…