How to eliminate type casting. (For professional actors.)

What creates typecasting?

Typecasting is not created by members of the film industry and it is not a file cabinet labeled: 'Almost a has been'. Actors and actresses are not the only ones who hate it. Producers, directors, managers and agents don't like it because it is insidious. The bottom line is if they could match you to more roles, with more diversity and for a longer period time they would have an easier time of it and make a lot more money besides.

It is simple to understand and easy to eliminate or transform.

The first thing that happens when a person gets sick is they act different than normal. We would not be good friends if we did not get upset when they changed character and acted different than before. The more we like them the more we become concerned and if it continues more than a few minutes into a conversation we will notice it and automatically become upset. We want to find the cause of the change so we can protect our friend. That is a very normal reaction.

If you are an actor and and the audience likes you a lot then they automatically think of you as a friend. Instinctually they automatically become protective of you and they get very upset when you take on a 'different character' and 'act different' whether they consciously actually realize it or not. When they cannot find a reason or a solution they end up distrusting you. So typecasting is just created by your protective friends in the audience who are actually watching out for your well being.

The more rigid you are type cast, the more loyal your fans and the more people love you. So you really can't be too upset about it! Be happy that millions of people are actually concerned about your health and well being. That is what causes type casting. That is about all there is to type casting.

What we can do to eliminate or transform type casting.

There are many easy ways to change or eliminate typecasting. It happens by 'accident' sometimes and when it does nobody even realizes what occurred.

Let's look at what happens that causes this change to occur.

For the first example lets use Christina Ricci who seems to be one of the most creative and most intelligent women in the film industry. She is still an Adams Family member in too many people's mind for her to have a clear field to play in. It appears she is trying to blur her 'type casting' by taking many unusual roles. It's probably an attempt to get people to forget what roles she has played so they will accept her as an adult. That non method is a painful slow writhing agony if not the death of her career.

Let's make an example of how we can eliminate her 'type casting'.

We are first going to separate the younger Christina from Ms. Ricci in everyone's mind and then make it so the audience wants to forget her past and also 'act' more as an adult from now on. When we finish the audience will not only accept her as an adult but they won't think of her or want her to act in those dark roles of her past. She will have almost a clean slate then. (She won't be able to express her creativity fully until her fans allow that dark repressive past to evaporate.)

It is not that hard to make this change occur. I'd use three to five flashbacks and as a treat for her fans make it humorous (but nobody else will think it is funny). The humor enhances a person's acceptance of the change and allows them to easily alter their thinking about her.

Her character in this film is in therapy in an attempt to release the darkness of her past through hypnosis regression therapy (and yell therapy). Hypnosis is the vehicle for the three to five regressions (flashbacks) needed for this. The flashbacks correspond to ages she was when she was typecast. For the flashbacks I'll use home movies, news and out takes. You usually must be careful about using flashbacks because many people don't realize it when it is a flashback and when there are too many in a non structured situation people can get confused or plain uncomfortable just stretching their minds to tie them all together. In this instance it is easy to pull off because nobody is going to confuse a eleven year old Cristina with an adult Ms. Ricci and because it is set at the therapists office so the flashbacks are separated very clearly from the rest of the plot almost in the same way as the scenes in plays are kept separate and nobody confuses them. The audience is anticipating the regression when they see her character enter the therapists office so they not only are wanting it but are ready for it. Structured this way even seven flashbacks would be less confusing than even a single unanounced flashback.

The flashbacks will cause the audience to separate the two 'Riccis' and show the conflict that has are isen between the two. We are then forced to decide which Christina we want to get rid of.

Her character's main problem stems from when her parents were getting a divorced and it became so heated that she was left her with strange relatives (Addams Family) who have a strage uncle and an even stranger son.

They all lived in a haunted house (Casper). Immedately when she arrived they started to bend her to their evil ways. Instead allowing her to have her own identity they used the day of the week she came to stay with them as her name. That was Wendesday (Wendesday was her character's name in the 'Addams Family' films).

The divorce was a result of her mother falling in love with an Englishman (Mermaids) after running away from her husband with her two daughters. That had an unusual effect on her sister (Winona Ryder, Mermaids) who became a nun.

There are three ways to go here but I am going to chose the cheap way out and use the most interesting plot (It's a crude subplot that is crude and has almost no redeming social values) as the example. All the events that occurred in her life together had the opposite effect on Christina's character than her sister who became a nun. The strange Adam's son had seduced her and possible so did the weird uncle. Christina's character became a nymphomaniac. (Isn't that a theme in some of her later films? Although it really doesn't really matter if it is or not, as it makes for good sales even if it is not acted out but only talked about during her sessions.) Thus her therapy is for sex addiction.

What causes the audience to accept her as an adult actress? Sympathy. Want her not to have to suffer those repressed memories of ghost, goblins, Pugsley and that weird uncle?

Her fans will actually want her to get over those bad memories of that terrible childhood that she lived through. Their wish for her is the key to it all. It becomes a 'reverse projection' (it's a term I may have just invented). That which they want for her become their wish for themselves and that leads to her fans to not want to remember her in those early roles she played. They wont think of her in those roles she played anymore, so the problem is solved.

Her fans who see this film will no longer think of her in the roles she used to play.

This subplot could add as little as 12 minutes to the length of a film. The way I have laid it out, it can be integrated into most dramatic films quite easily. Remember that most people will take this very seriously, so only her fans will laugh through the changes in their attitude. If this is to be used in a comedy I can certainly make it into a funny segment for the entire audience.

[This section about Ms. Ricci is not finished yet so I probably should not put it on the net until I edit it better. In fact about eight (now twelve) hours ago I wasn't even certain who she was. I had seen two of her later films, 'That Cat' and 'Buffalo 66' but didn't relate her to that little girl in the 'Addams Family Values' and 'Mermaid' (and part of Casper) which I had already seen some time earlier. Last night I was simply curious about her when I read a quote of hers. It was so wise and novel that I had to find out more about this young lady who was also a breathtaking beauty. I was engrossed by some of her comments. It shows a gift of great spirituality. I was editing this page on my web site and so my reading about her lead to using her as an example of how to eliminate 'type casting'.]

Our next example is Ms. Jamie Lee Curtis.

This is exactly the same thing as I described above with Christina Ricci only it happened to Ms. Curtis and it was completely by accident.

Remember when she was the epitome of the scream queen and stared in such very briefly popular films in all of one genre when she screamed in ‘Halloween’, when she screamed in ‘Prom Night’, when she screamed in ‘The Fog’and when she screamed in ‘Terror Train’ and then almost always tried to run away but never was able to?

There was not one chance in a blue moon that we were going to ever going to accept her doing anything other than being the absolutely helpless frightened girl. (Except in comedies like 'A Fish Named Wanda' but comedies are only a temporary repreive from type casting for as long as the film lasts.)

I went to see the film ‘Blue Steel’ expecting to see some variation on that theme.

In the opening scene Jamie is a police officer who walks into an apartment and has to rescue a woman. Before I can even get upset over that damn uniform that she should not be wearing because it makes her look like a responsible adult and we know she is not that, a man with a gun threatens to kill us all. We paid $10+ to be able to pretend to be in the film standing next to Jamie Lee Curtis so we don't want her to die for several reasons and it's all happening so fast and right at the beginning of the film.

So we think, 'please Jamie, don't run and scream like you normally do. For once in your life would you ACT SERIOUS? It's not a knife he's got, it's a gun so if you scream and run away he is just going to shoot you in the back. So shoot the man before he kills us all. We don't want you to be the 'scream queen' now so just grow up really fast and 'act' like an adult so you can kill him.'

She's our friend and she listens to us. She doesn’t scream and she doesn't run away, she kills the man and saves both the film and our $10+.

Then we find out it is only part of her training but in the next ten minutes there is a repeat of a similar scene where she actually kills a man holding hostages in a store so we go through those same emotions a second time and that serves to reinforce our desire for her to not be the scream queen ever again.

What a friend Jamie Lee Curtis is. Now she even kills the bad guys for us. Why would we ever want her to be the helpless screamer again? I'm glad she is a strong woman and not that little girl that we used to have to worry about who would have lost my twelve dollars within five minutes of the start of this film. Now, everybody who has seen this film expects her to act more serious than she has in the past.

The plain truth is the transition of Jamie Lee Curtis from playing the most helpless of roles to those of a serious actress was a huge transition that nobody would have accepted any other way than this and this was done by making the audience want her to transform and then letting her..

This kind of transition also makes her roles more dynamic as the leap was so great that we expect more like it.

Was this specific role needed to create her transition? No, there are 150 ways to change an actors or actresses 'type'. Let's use #105 and make up a plot in five minutes that would have worked for her as good as Blue Steel.

The scream queen is getting dressed for the prom, when the veil of her dress falls from the door it is hanging on looking briefly like a ghost so she screams. When she is walking home at night she sees an unexpected reflection of herself in a store window and runs home in a panic. (Now we have fully accepted her in the role she used to play.) After the prom she marries and then ends up with a divorce and raising her child alone. So she joins the Marines and becomes a Military Police Officer. Boredom causes her to reappraise her life and she works hard for her promotions. She toughens up and she earns our respect saving cats from trees but falls once and is crippled for life and so she has an extra burden but she over comes it too and earns our respect. Shadows are never an issue again for this actress .

She is now seen as a serious actress by anybody who see's this film.

Do you recognize the plot? It is the next one we talk about.

That leads us to the second person and how they broke the mold. Before the film 'Born on the Forth of July' Tom Cruise played nothing but spoiled brats and is most noted for brief moments of jiggling around in his underwear to the satisfaction of hoards of young women and then suddenly he was in Viet Nam just like so many young men found themselves 40 years ago. Then he immediately became a valid serious actor when his spinal cord got severed by a bullet while fighting. Or should I say that Oliver Stone forced us at the point of a gun.

And that is how Tom Cruise became a serious actor.

Because of that one film Tom Cruise make's at least $25 million a year more than he used to and he was just about to die a twenty something year old teenager when he got that part. Actually he needed several other mature film roles to reinforce it fully simply because not all his fans saw Born on the Forth of July.

Why stop at not being afraid of shadowns anymore?  Let's have her leave the military in order to set her up for her next film role. She miraculously recovers and goes into the private sector for a job right before the film ends. She sets it up as she wants and becomes a cop or even an astronomer. Then she can start right away in the same adult role in her next film. There is a definitely a large range of roles she can now act in.

It's kind of a difficult job market so let's give her a real boost and before she leaves the military her character goes to the Middle East and gets wounded while saving the lives of ten U.N. relief workers. Then she earns the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Popes blessing. Now Jamie can work in foreign films if she wants to. For filming in France she also saves three French U. N. peacekeepers and the car bomb she stops bare handed saves the life of the French Ambassador, too.

The process of the elimination of type casting is just a simple technique. It happens at times but before now nobody knew why. When it occurred it was just by chance, luck or accident. There are a hundred ways to do it. Maybe a Kama Sutra of un-type casting is needed.

Not only can you change type but you can widen the type, open it up to different types or disolve it completely (an Oscar does the last one very effectively).

The bard never died. I just slept for 400 years.

 

 

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