The upside of typecast actors in Hollywood

May 21, 2017 — by Ava Hooman and Esha Lakhotia

If you happen to see a movie starring Morgan Freeman, you will probably predict that Freeman plays an old man enlightening others with his wisdom and deep voice. When an actor frequently plays one type of role, that actor is subject to typecasting.

Typecasting occurs when an actor or actress is repeatedly assigned the same type of role because he or she is of a certain ethnicity or has had previous success in a similar role. The actor or actress is then strongly identified with that type of role, and that can make it easier for the audience to associate a character to real life.

For example, the distinguished and loved Jennifer Aniston is the go-to actress to star in romantic comedies. Her breakout role in the hit TV show “Friends” started her acting career and led her to act for similar roles in movies such as “Bruce Almighty” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Aniston plays a lovelorn lead after a man in pretty much every movie she acts in.

Actors such as Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson share a similar type of role in action-packed movies with comic relief, where they crack funny, and sometimes racist, jokes to lighten the mood.

Zac Efron, a non typecast actor, has faced the consequences, as his career as spiraled down since his first major hit, “High School Musical.” Since he plays a wide range of characters, in movies such as “Bad Grandpa” and “17 again,” he is not identified as a certain character, and therefore confuses his audience with the vast variety of characters.

Most typecast actors in Hollywood can help viewers understand the characters more; however, some think that being typecast often limits actors from showing their versatility.

Though it does keep actors in a certain spectrum of characters, typecasting actually helps actors gain a familiar audience, therefore ensuring that those people will watch their movies and propel their career.

For example, Samuel L. Jackson is currently the highest-grossing actor in history, with his films (though not him personally) earning about $7 billion, essentially playing the same rebellious daredevil role in each film. In fact, in several interviews, he embraced his typecasting and recognized it as key in building his career.

However, unlike Jackson, most actors do not like being typecasted, as they feel it limits their ability to get cast in different roles. In addition, many non typecast actors are more successful because of their ability to perform diverse roles.

For example, Robin Williams, a American stand up comedian and actor, performed a vast variety of characters, such as Mrs. Doubtfire in the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” and the genie in “Aladdin.” His success came from audiences around the world marvelling at his abilities to transform into any character.

All in all, typecasting boosts actors’ careers, and attracts the same reliable audience, ensuring a high grossing movie and success for some actors, while being non type cast helps other actors fit into any role they are assigned to.

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