For some of us, looking a little peculiar can work to our advantage. Unfortunately there are too many of us selling radios to the deaf.
I talk to many actors whose dream roles are X,Y and Z but when you get up and look at yourself in the mirror every morning can you actually fit what you are dreaming with the face you’re looking at? Ask yourself honestly: Would you cast yourself as Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise ?
If you see a pattern forming whereby you have played a couple of bad guys in a row – go with it! Until you are big enough to start demanding roles/paychecks your casting ‘prototype’ is formulated around what we see in front of us. Even before you open your mouth. Actors struggle being told exactly what they look like at times because they have idea in their head of the types of roles that they want to play. Forget it. Security guards, psychopaths, drug dealers, prostitutes and truck drivers all have a story to tell.
Now let’s also get one thing perfectly clear – I never said you couldn’t do a Heath Ledger and diversify your career dramatically from role to role. This man was a genius at it. But so was his talent to back it up. There are some actors in the US who have made a very comfortable living from playing bad guys – they know their casting type, what roles suit their face and they stick to it. They’re never out of work! Nobody knows they’re name but you may hear a movie goer remark ‘oh yeah i know that guy! he’s in everything!’ or ‘I know that actor, he’s really good, but darn it I can never remember his name’.
There are some baddies who sit under the radar their entire lives, have a whopping CV to show for it and are happy. Then come the pristine looking heroes’ who struggle for parts every year against thousands that look exactly like them or have been to the same solarium that morning before the casting. Take Miriam Margolyes for example. Not a household name to some but to others a magnificent character actor, theatre stalwart and living legend. But who is she?? Margolyes has played the old hag, a dental nurse and even a fly (Babe 1995). Most notably she was Professor Pomona Sprout in that series of movies where a kid wearing glasses waves a wand.. She knows her casting pigeon hole. And to her credit she has made 70 movies at the age of 71. That’s an average of a little over one movie a year since she was born! Not bad for someone who isn’t considered an A-lister..
The best antagonists are always remembered for their humanity, yet they must remain a flawed individual. Our bad guy will never save the day because his/her story-line is such that they need to ruin everything for everyone. Like Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men; Javier Bardem stole the show, and Bardem did backstroke in a role that froze audiences in their seat.
In many cases the bad guys are better written, so take your time, sit down and enjoy eating someone’s liver and fava beans with a nice bottle of Chianti. The castings could get juicier than expected.