Character actors

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by foghorn, Aug 17, 2023.

  1. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    There’s a bit of ado about non-Jewish actors playing Jewish characters, so what about vice versa?
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    There is a wider ado about
    • straight actors playing gay characters,
    • white actors playing ethnic characters,
    • blind, deaf and disabled actors playing blind, deaf and disabled characters,

    The take I've heard on this goes thusly:

    1. They're actors. They have one job and that's literally to act as a character that's not them. So let them. Nobody has a "right" to a role just because they share common elements with that role.

    2. The time when it is a concern is when a particular group is seeing discrimination in the acting industry. Are ethnics, disabled and gay actors disproportionately underrepresented in the acting industry? Then it's a problem.
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  5. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    Not historical characters.

    A film Martin Luther King portrayed by a white man would not work.

    Sure, a white guy could do it but why? Do you want to portray MLK or not?
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  7. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Reshaping the OP to fit the replies??
    Should a black Jewish actor play a black non-Jewish character?
    Should a black non-deaf Jewish actor play a black deaf non-Jewish character?
    I’m guessing all actors go with the breaks, we all have bills.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2023
  8. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    The difference between a jew non jew is not obvious, White and black is obvious.

    The issue with the film is regarding Bardley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose not the fact he isn’t Jewish.

    Bernstein family seemed fine with it.

    “It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well,” the Bernsteins write.

    No one cared that Oppenheimer was played by an Irishman who wore the same hat and had a pipe as the real man.
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, why would anyone do that?

    The idea is not to jam actors into inappropriate roles; the idea is that you pick for the role based on who can best portray the character and based on more significant characteristics than mere ancestry.

    I think the criticism is aimed at the film company for the choice of who to cast.
  10. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    That is kind of what I am getting at.

    Bradley Cooper is not Jewish but you cannot tell is isn’t, Daniel Radcliff is Jewish and you cannot tell that he is.

    It does not matter.

    Watching Cooper play Bernstein will not have you thinking, “Should have got Radcliff, its ruined it for me.”

    However, Anne Boleyn had me scratching my head “really thought that bird was white y’know.”
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Both practices are surely as old as white people transracially playing indigenous people in the earliest vintage westerns (if not older).

    Charlton Heston: "Let my people go."

    And Kirk Douglas assumed the roles of many more non-Jewish characters than just Vincent van Gogh.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    It's kind of strange how I recognize the issue but not all the chatter. To wit, the bit about Cooper, as it reached me, has more to do with an extraneous prosthetic nose.

    It's one thing, for instance, if Barthelmess gave a fine performance in Broken Blossoms, but it's a hundred years later, so if we're going to shove wood chips in some white guy's eyes, we're going to need a better reason than not wanting to hire a Chinese actor.

    Or maybe we should just do a color-switch on Birth of a Nation. A bunch of white actors desecrating the legislature might even afford an advertising crossover with KFC.

    There are times when certian particulars don't matter as much to a role; to the other, Ira Aldridge was the first Black actor to play Othello, and that was in 1825. When Paul Robeson took up the role in 1959, at Stratford, he was the first Black man to play Othello, there, since 1860.
  13. el es Registered Senior Member

  14. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    But, will there be a Two White Chicks 2 Coming soon?
    Or, a white actor playing a black character coming soon?
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2023
  15. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    So, my question was should a black Jewish actor play a black non-Jewish character? Nothing about white actors playing black characters.

    The Jewish Chronicle
    David Baddiel talking about the Oppenheimer movie and more:
    Are Jewish actors unrepresented in media?

    BBC quoting David Baddiel:
    ***** ************ *****
    The thing about the nose with Cooper was very odd indeed for modern times.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2023
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Let's start with: is there any reason why they shouldnt?

    Otherwise, there's no discussion here.

    (I mean, we dont ask if actors named Bob should play non-Bob characters ...)
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    If he wants to, yes.
  18. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Like you, I see no reason Jewish actors can’t play non-Jewish characters and vice versa.

    David Baddiel in my quotes above seems to think there is.
    If David Baddie wants to bring in cultural issues then the question could become, should a Catholic actor play a Protestant character and vice versa?
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I think David Baddiel's point is more that he thinks that, in the progressive attitudes of minorities being increasingly cast by those from the minority, Jews are seemingly overlooked such consideration. He sees this as a discrepancy. He thinks this is part of a wider issue of how Jews are seen in society. I don't think his point is that minority actors should be the only ones to play characters from the minority. But noone really kicks up the same fuss when Jews are portrayed by non-Jews as perhaps when other minorities are portrayed by non-minorities.

    To quote him in from a Guardian article he penned:
    "I believe two things at once – that in an ideal world, non-Jews should be allowed to play Jews, but the fact this allowance already exists, and has up to this point received very little pushback is, in the modern casting context, a discrepancy, and one that needs to be deconstructed, because it says a lot about how people see Jews."

    It's a good article. He fully admits its a complex issue, and it is, and is because we don't live in the ideal world where any actor can play any role without an issue being raised. And since we're not in that ideal world, his query is why Jews are treated differently to other minorities, why they're not afforded the same respect as other minorities.

    With regard the Bradley Cooper nose thing, Baddiel also says in that article (although the article was penned in 2022):
    "It’s about the idea that minority experience should be expressed by those who truly know it, rather than caricatured by those who don’t."
    The key here, I think, is "caricatured", and I think this speaks to the Cooper nose in the Bernstein bio-pic. Is the nose being used as a caricature? The family don't seem to think so but maybe others do.
  20. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    If it seems, evidenced by current history, the Jewish people have not been bothered by non-Jewish actors playing Jewish characters, why is Baddliel concerned no one is making a point of it?
    Why has this stirred a bee in his bonnet?
    Does he want Jewish actors to go on a list which ‘reflects’ that Jewish actors are different in some way to other actors?
    What needs to happen to please David Baddiel of something other Jewish people are not bothered about?
    I agreed it is complex and I may be missing Baddiel’s point.
    Maybe Baddiel is a moany old git. Moany old gits are from all walks of life.
    His book gets a mention and he gets a fee for a chat or an article about something other Jews are not concerned about. Nice one.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2023
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No it doesn't. (i.e. I think the author is drawing a hasty conclusion.)

    Blonde characters being played by brunettes does not say anything about how society sees blondes. All it says is they pick actors based on whether they're appropriate for the role, not on whether the actor shares some non-character-acting traits of the character.

    There seems to be some union mentality going on here.
    Once, after a trade show I went to break down and load my own equipment because none of the workers were available. A union guy stopped me, saying that's a union job. I'll just have to wait until a union guy is available, or I can get in a lot of trouble.
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    What hasty conclusion would that be?
    Note that I don't think he's saying that if you aren't showing Jews respect with regard casting then you don't respect them at all, that you are antisemitic. I think he's saying that, once one, as he puts it, deconstructs the discrepancy, it will shine a light on how people see Jews more generally. Whether validly or otherwise.
    Yeah, it does say something about how society sees blondes. Namely that being blonde or brunette has not afforded one particularly complex experiences related to that hair colour that someone of the other hair colour is unable to portray.

    Do you think that being Jewish is a simple non-character-acting trait, like the colour of one's hair? Do you think that being Jewish brings something inherent to one's understanding of the role of a Jewish person? And do you not think your answer to those questions says a lot about how you see Jews, whether valid or not?

    A reminder, though, that Baddiel's issue is not with who acts which part, but more with why Jews are a minority not given the same respect in this regard as other minorities. Exploring this discrepancy, he suggests, will show a lot about how people see Jews.
    I think that's rather wide of the mark. It certainly misses Baddiel's point completely, and, if anything, comes across as one of the majority coming up with reasons to ignore the issue entirely.
    Yeah, there are many anecdotes of this, especially in Hollywood, where even a chair being used as a prop couldn't be moved a foot or so (outside of the actual scene) without the official prop person doing it. But this issue isn't about union mentality.
  23. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    So, to please David baddiel what needs to be done?
    Do film company owners allow directors full control over which actors play which characters ?
    Shoot the director?
    Does this come down to ownership of a media company?
    Shoot the majority share holder of a media company?
    Who is David Baddiel shooting at?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2023

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