A model doth not an actress make: when casting goes consumerist
My mother gapes at the TV in a manner resembling a carp. “But she’s awful! “ she gasps. “Pretty, but awful!” My teenage sister shrugs. “She’s got a lot of followers on Instagram.”
We’ve all been there. The plot is seamless, the cinematography glowing and the costumes worthy of a BAFTA. But your suspension of disbelief throws you into the abyss of reality at the heroine’s arrival.
Stilted, painfully aware of her angle at the camera and wobbling her way through a line longer than five words, you are either left sniggering or sorely disappointed. You don’t watch a drama or action film to look at someone who is beautiful. Frankly I’d rather watch my dad in a wig playing Juliet or Anna Karenina than the likes of Cara Delevigne.
That probably sounds unkind. I have nothing against models. It takes genuine stamina to exercise eight hours a day, go through a killer skin routine and suffer the horrors of cruel catwalk decisions. It’s a craft. But it’s not acting. You wouldn’t hire a dentist to do your make up, and you really shouldn’t hire a model to play a deep, complex character. The results are generally nothing other than horrible.
I saw a film with a dear friend this week, and one performance (from a model) was so genuinely horrifying that we ended up shrieking with laughter. Watching her with the likes of Derek Jacobi and Nigel Hawthorne made the weird over acting and wobbly delivery all the funnier. She barely said a line throughout the whole thing without inspiring a highly amusing falsetto parody from my friend. “Well, her lighting was excellent, ” he said, two hours later. “Shame about everything else.”
Just hire an actress. Please. You can always coat her in foundation or throw a wig on if the case arises. But you can’t paint on talent. You can’t make a graceful six foot giraffe suddenly mirror the horrors of maternal grief without even a school production under her belt.
I know your investors are all pointing at the follower numbers on model Instagram accounts, bouncing around and going “But the youths love her! We must engage the youths!” but popularity doesn’t translate into watchability.
Tragically, too many young models have been pushed prematurely into serious roles and had a potential acting career wrecked beyond repair. To be ‘a little too Cara Delevigne’ is to be underwhelming in audition circles in London. Lily Collins was similarly besmirched for a bland performance in Snow White. And why are they so bad? Because they aren’t actresses.
This isn’t an insult. I’m not considered an idiot for not being able to perform major operas and they aren’t guilty of anything more than slight over ambition. And who hasn’t tried something and come to regret it? It happens. No, my beef is with unscrupulous casting directors who choose pretty and popular over talent and believability.
So let’s see an end to Instagram casting.