Silly acting problem

Have just been reading the Grauniad’s film critic on the new movie Oppenheimer - saw the trailer last night prior to viewing Asteroid City (don’t digress too far, Mark).

The lengthy and otherwise very reasoned and favourable view contained the following, which despite its weedy qualifier needs questioning:-

‘…it has to be said that Nolan, rightly or wrongly, uses non-Jewish actors for Oppenheimer and Einstein, two of the most famous Jewish people in history and in fact doesn’t quite to get to grips with the antisemitism that Oppenheimer faced as an assimilated secular American Jew.’

This begs so many questions, a good test of an argument is to reverse the terms and see how it looks. So should Christian characters only be played by practising Christians? More worringly though, it seems to imply some particular attributes of Jews that means Jewish characters should only be played by Jews.

Meanwhile Glenda Jackson can be an apparently very well-received King Lear, and of course in Shakespeare’s time female characters tended to be played by men. It seems to me there’s a contemporary dichotomy between those requiring an actor needing to be genetically or sexually ‘authentic’ and others who still believe in an actor’s ability to ‘act’.


For me… a good actor is someone who makes me believe that they are the character they are playing… at that time… regardless of what/who they are “in real life” …


Stanley Tucci - one of my favourites - often plays gays. This is what he says:

Tucci did acknowledge that straight actors playing gay characters is often not done “the right way,” but argued, “An actor is an actor is an actor. You’re supposed to play different people. You just are, that’s the whole point of it.”


They could start by making actresses playing adult people’s mothers actually old enough to be their mother.


Not to mention making the husband young enough to be the father, :roll_eyes:


And of course, they’d need to have had children in real life…

Anne Boleyn was recently in the UK portrayed by a black actress

I would have been happier if all of the cast had been black,

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I’ve seen folk playing the part of someone much older… it tests the skills of the makeup artist and also that of the Actor/Actress… some are very convincing, some make me cringe.

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Thankfully, she wasn’t required to wear (white face’ 'if such a thing exists).

Big question, that I’m not wholly qualified to answer:-

Do these examples mean that in the theatre the spoken word can transcend the world of visual appearance - if the person is an accomplished actor do we simply become blind to their actual appearance?

It would seem so, and yet at the other end of the - that word - ‘woke’ spectrum others are insisting on genetic and other forms of ‘authenticity’!

I really don’t care what colour/gender/age/whatever…
if the story is interesting and I’m enjoying “the willing suspension of disbelief”… the cast are obviously playing their parts well…


Absolutely agree, but for me the worrying aspect of this is that the criteria highlighted in my first post, might become some form of dominant norm


The Casting Director will make the decisions and the Public will either like the presentation or not…

give us a précis… as I sort of lost the plot… :wink:

I suppose you have to consider radio plays , when it is literally all down to voice and the actors skill


and our own imagination does the rest… :+1: :+1:

That all seems rather bizarre to me and I’ll proudly describe myself as woke. Does that mean that actors need to be the same gender, race, age, sexuality and religion as the character they’re playing to be considered appropriate?
It feels like a stretch.


I love going to the cinema and really just want to be entertained, if I’m going to see a film based on an historical event though I want to see actors that are believable so sadly (and this may seem racist) a black Anne Boleyn doesn’t work for me, however, with fiction it matters not a jot.


I don’t think it seems racist, as previously stated had the whole cast been black then no issue

Fair enough, but I think there’s still a difference between film and theatre in that although both are visual mediums, perhaps theatre prioritises the spoken word and if well-delivered, the character’s appearance becomes secondary, whereas film is more emphatically visual so it’s harder to believe in a character who is visually implausible, or unlikely.

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