A Woman of Many Faces

A Woman of Many Faces

In my opinion, the best actors are those who can be versatile. You may think that versatility is a given prerequisite for any wannabe actor and yet, how many Hollywood A-listers have actually played widely differing roles?  

It would seem that most actors end up being stereotyped anyway, and in an industry as fickle as the movie business, it is necessary to accept any jobs while they are still coming your way, stereotypical or not.

I watch so many films where actors are playing the same part, albeit with a different hairstyle or accent and it just gets so boring.

It seems that only a handful of the most exceptional (and most high profile) actors are talented (and lucky) enough to be offered more versatile roles – the most success-assured (if played well) being biopic or real life roles.

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Unfortunately there do not seem to be many opportunities for actors, especially women, to play differing roles once they have made a name for themselves playing a certain type. Can you imagine Jason Statham playing a quiet, intelligent writer who falls in love with his cleaner? Or Colin Firth wielding a machine-gun and assassinating various knife-toting baddies?

No, neither can I.

And to be fair neither would I want to as both actors play their roles very well, and have been successful in building careers around one particular type of character.

Yet while it may work for some, only ever playing the role of damsel-in-distress / feisty damsel-in-distress / psychotic damsel-in-distress would bore me silly.

During my long and colourful semi-career as a supporting artiste / short-film actress / theatre actress, I have played various roles and donned various wigs. I have adopted different accents, different nationalities and even a different gender. I have played a peasant, a princess, a spy, a mental patient. In fact I am versatility personified.

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As you can appreciate, these differing roles have required a great deal of skill and concentration and I have often found myself returning home after a days work on set, still in the mind-set of the character I am playing. That mind-set usually being blank.

Playing different roles is so much more interesting than regurgitating a character that is boringly predictable and there should be more roles out there that explore our multi-faceted personalities rather than mainstream stereotypes.

And so in case I am ever offered the role of lead chameleon, I go through life trying to attempt as many new things as possible (aside from drugs) in order to experience versatility first hand.

Well, it’s all in the method after all.

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  1. 8th November 2013 / 9:29 am

    Grrrrrr, your picture of Meryl Streep made me angry. I’ve long found her roles to be rather repetitive, with a tendency to blur together from one role to the next. I guess I’d wish to see other deserving actresses get the Oscar buzz she’s gotten so much of for playing in the same boring dramas over and over that the Academy loves.

    Back to the post at hand…

    …what would you think of an industry “regulation” that forced professional actors to play different roles from time to time, say, every fifth movie or so? I think that, if nothing else, it would be extremely interesting (and amusing) to test so many actors’ abilities to diversify. How would you take to it yourself?

    • 8th November 2013 / 9:45 am

      I can understand your point but I fear that by ‘forcing’ actors to play different roles, a dangerous line may be crossed e.g. the more ‘innocent’ actresses would be forced to play sexual roles; a comedy actor may have to play his hand at a violent villain etc. Some of the best loved actors have always played similar roles – I agree this shouldn’t always merit an Oscar award, but still I don’t think I’d enjoy watching Colin Firth playing a dangerous, psycho with an unhealthy interest in kitchen utensils!

  2. 28th June 2013 / 12:16 pm

    I look forward to reading about you playing many more diverse roles, long long into your theatrical future!

    • 28th June 2013 / 12:17 pm

      Haha thanks Jaya! I hope I get the opportunities to do so!

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