By: Open Book
Warner Brothers finally revealed who will play the iconic Superman character in their next film, British actor Henry Cavill. However, Americans are complaining more and more acting jobs are being outsourced to British, Australian and Canadian actors. Jimmy Kimmel (a late night talk show host) gave a funny monologue in which he highlighted all American Superheroes like Spiderman, Batman and Superman, are now being played by British actors. Yet, casting agents are blaming the Internet!! In a recent article on Reuters online entitled American Superheroes Missing in Hollywood a casting agent stated; “Thanks to the Net, casting directors can now e-mail sides (script pages) to the most remote of locales, and then record auditions they will show directors and producers. Not only does that level the playing field, it also saves money on far-flung casting calls. We as casting directors want to be thorough, and now we can…………”
There may be a few reasons American actors are loosing roles to their foreign counterparts. Yes! More competition due to the Internet is one reason but another may be more definitive. Could it be preparation and education, international marketing, shorter film development and or reality T.V.? Part-1 of this article will only focus on preparation, education and shorter film development as the possible mediating factors.
In the 1980’s before the Technology boom and our new global economy, American Actors had less competition and more time to hone their acting craft on the job. Before the 1990’s American Filmmakers had more time to nurture an actor on set to get the performance they wanted. However, after the home computer, the Internet and the video game industry of the 1990’s, movie audiences in America began to decline. To combat this problem movie studios began cutting production development in half to keep up with competition and demand.
Today, directors are looking for actors who are well seasoned, versatile, well prepared with international appeal that can adhere to the quick turn around time and production schedules required. Add to that Americas declining box office numbers makes it necessary for studios to turn to international markets to supplement Americas low turn out rate in theaters. All of this, put British, Australian, Canadian and other international actors in high demand to appeal to international audiences. Today many foreign actors, (after honing their craft by way of classical training, theater or studying American filmmaking) are coming to America well equipped for work. For example; Cate Blanchett who’s been nominated for five Academy Awards and received one for best supporting actress for the film Aviator. Graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts and after that spent time doing theater before her film debut in America.
There are some American actors like Natalie Portman and Dakota Fanning who are leading the way for young actors today. They understand education is the way to compete in Hollywood for longevity. After doing films as children, both stars took a break from filmmaking to focus on furthering their education. Portman went to Harvard majored in psychology and now nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Black Swan. Portman stated in an interview she drew from her education in psychology to develop her character that suffered with bulimia and obsessive compulsive disorder OCD. Dakota Fanning has also stated after getting her high school diploma intends to continue on to college. Fanning has managed to balance her acting in between school by taking on smaller supportive roles that would not interfere with her education.
Perhaps the reason twenty and thirty something American actors are getting passed over for jobs is due to our educational system? Filmmakers in this global economy need to appeal to an international market in order to stay solvent. The box office for Inception and Avatar earnings were higher internationally than domestic and both films featured a multi-cultural cast. Although, America prides itself on being a melting pot of different cultures it’s amazing how little we know about the countries from which people migrate.
Today most high schools fail to teach world history. Diane Ravitch who was the assistant secretary of education to George W. Bush administration, commented about the problems of the No Child left Behind Legislation stating,
“By measuring success only in relation to exams in reading and mathematics, and stigmatizing and sanctioning schools that do not make “adequate yearly progress,” NCLB provides perverse incentives to “teach to the test” and devote less time to science, social studies, history, geography, foreign languages, art and music.”
In researching this topic, many American artists have made huge contributions in support of improving the educational system in America. Through an organization called The Entertainment Industry Foundation one of the leading charitable organizations of the entertainment industry, go to, www.eifoundation.org for more information. They have contributed hundreds of millions to this cause. Another charity is called, Celebrities Support Entertainers 4 Education Alliance over the past four years they have developed campaigns and programs, which have made a huge difference in motivating kids to stay in school.
The outsourcing of acting roles may be due to our educational system in America. However another reason may be due to Reality T.V. and tabloid scandal, which will be discussed in Part-2 of this series.