Actors to the average person can seem larger than life. Let's face it, there's always at least a small part of us that gets starstruck in the right circumstance. Of course not everyone will admit this (especially full grown adults), but hey, it's okay... we can admit it; we've all been starstruck and it happens to the best of us. But here's something not everyone knows: sometimes in the film industry world, especially during production, this perspective can change a lot. I've heard this dreaded sentence over and over again in the industry, even on set with actors present. It goes a lot like this: "I hate actors!" Many people outside the business don't know this little secret because they aren't involved with on set actors firsthand, but make no mistake, actors tend to get a bad rap amongst a film crew if they're not extremely careful. I've heard actors commonly pinned as all being divas, prima donnas, children, etc. To me, this is simply unfair. This is all pretty easy and negative to say, but is it really true? I bet some of you guys are still nodding your heads, "Well, yeah. It is!" Okay, then let me tell you why I respectfully disagree.
It seems to be most actors get very little respect unless they fit one of two criteria: they're either super-famous or have an unrealistically squeaky clean personal life. Even then it seems people like to bring them down anyway. Can we be healthy about this? They're people like the rest of us. Some are nicer than others, some are needier than others, and some are more difficult than others. Guess what, it's not just actors that get like this. We all do! It's not job specific! Listen, there are mean directors. There are also nice ones. This is nothing new... come on, you've never met an obnoxious DP? Liar! There are mean producers, first A.D.s (insert joke here), grips, make-up artists... in fact, in my experience, I've met nice and not so nice people in just about every area of expertise. I can't think of one job on set that has all nice people or or all mean people. You know why? Because that makes no sense at all!
Let me tell you why actors deserve our respect and maybe just a little more slack. They're doing what us non-actors don't have the guts to do. I'm a writer and my work is critiqued all the time. I'm over it; it's not even an issue for me anymore. Growing thick skin as a writer is tough enough; you let your heart out for everyone to see, then get judged and criticized. But imagine people were actually judging you not only your craft, but also on the way you look, talk, walk... cry for heaven's sake?! Imagine someone told you that you cry weird? What if that's actually how you cry? You're too heavy, too skinny, too scrawny, too boring, your teeth are crooked, your eyes are crossed... Oh gee, is that a guy or a girl? No kidding! Let's look it up on IMDB. We've all said things like that to our friends and family about the actors we watch onscreen. We do things like that... it might not be nice but it's okay, we won't fry for it. My point isn't to take it easy on them necessarily (although we probably should), but just about no one else has to deal with that kind of crap. If you can find me one person in the world who can be called unattractive and not care (barring a couple of certifiably insane people), I'd be floored. Is the actor who wants their hair to look good, their makeup to look right, their clothes to look and fit perfectly... are they really being divas or are they actually legitimately concerned they won't look good on screen? I'll tell you, if a megastar looks awful, the media will call them out on it. Actors are willing to take on that kind of pressure; they're special in that way. I admire their courage. And it's also not just looks, they also get judged on their personality as well. That guy seems like a know-it-all. That girl is so dorky. That one is so awkward... he's not a leading man! What I'm trying to say is when you meet or work with an actor, understand that these concerns, and sometimes insecurities, may affect their attitude. This doesn't mean the actor isn't nice. Instead of complaining about actors, empathize with them.
I understand some actors aren't nice people. I'm certainly not arguing that. All I'm saying is don't "hate" actors before you get to know them. Understand that most of them are good people obsessed with a specific craft (like the rest of us in showbiz). So the next time you see an actor on set or just in life, throw them a smile... they might just catch it and throw one back. I like actors... the work they do is admirable and fascinating. As I said, as a director they give my vision a voice. And if they do their job well, they'll transform the character in a better way than I could have imagined without them. So, in short, that's my love letter to actors.