In the present day, we see more and more celebrities and well-known figures gain lead and supporting roles in the acting industry. This is often cast without the celebrity having much or any actors training via university or drama school. This essay will discuss reasons for this and the implications of this on working class actors. It will also highlight the importance of actor training and what skills actors gain when provided with relevant training. It is important to distinguish the different opinions towards this matter and whether actor training is necessary to become a talented and professional actor. There are many similarities and differences in training between different actors and although an actor may have significantly more actor training than a celebrity or popular figure, it does not guarantee that they will land the role and more often in the present day, we see celebrities landing different acting roles in both theatre and film. All factors need to be considered when evaluating the benefits of actor training such as benefits for the audition process and the overall performance in the film or production. This essay will discuss a large variety of these factors.
Celebrities and popular figures get cast in lead and supporting roles for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes, it’s a case of the management wanting to advertise the celebrity as the main role to draw in more customers and therefore, gain a greater income of money. In other occasions, the character’s storyline is similar to experiences that the celebrity has been through, so they are able to get into character easily. In the current age, we frequently encounter celebrities from the music industry making the transition from music to acting in both theatre and film. An example of this is Jay McGuiness. Jay was a member of a popular British boyband called ‘The Wanted’. After the band split in 2014, McGuiness made the transition to the theatre industry and got cast as the lead role of Josh Baskin in ‘BIG The Musical’. (Ref) This was his first acting role and had not been through any drama school training prior to getting cast. However, before he joined the music industry, McGuiness had danced at college as well as staring on the popular TV show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ which includes him learning a different style of dance each week throughout the duration of the show. This means that he had training in both dance and vocals before transitioning to the theatre. Therefore, he may have been cast in ‘Big The Musical’ due to his dance and vocal talents rather than focusing on his lack of training in acting. As musicals rely heavily on the actor’s ability to dance and sing due to the large number of songs and choreographed routines, it is imperative that the person cast has skills in singing in dancing, which McGuiness does and therefore, was an appropriate person to lay the role despite his lack of actor training. When training to be an actor, you work both on physicality and vocal skills. As McGuiness had experienced physical training from his dance lessons and vocal training from when he was in a band, he had already gained similar training to what an actor would have. Therefore, although he has not had specific actor training, he has experienced some training that was relevant and helped him to become suitable for the role as Josh Baskin in ‘BIG The Musical’.
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Although McGuiness may have been suitable for his role in theatre, this is not always the case when celebrities and popular figures are cast in lead acting roles. An example of a performance that was not as commended was Madonna’s performance in a variety of different films. Madonna is very well known for her musical career; however, she has also had a variety of acting jobs on the side. Although it comes down to opinions and personal preference, Madonna has been criticized for her acting in films such as ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ and ‘Swept Away’. Her performance in ‘Swept Away’ has been described as ‘a new low in her career’ and ‘a shipwreck’ causing Madonna to not proceed in any further acting jobs. This shows that acting does not always come naturally, and some people need to train a lot to be good and succeed in their roles. In Madonna’s case, her lack of actor training meant that she did not have the skills to win over her audience and resulted in her terminating her acting career to continue with what her audience did commend her for; her music career.
The music and entertainment industries are not the only industries to have celebrities cross over into acting careers. Popular sports figures such as Mike Tyson have also made the transition to the acting industry. Mike Tyson was a popular and well- known WWE boxer before he decided to retire and switch to acting. He starred in the popular film ‘The Hangover’ and had a one-man Broadway show all about his life. There is no evidence to support the statement that Mike Tyson had any actor training before being cast in the hangover. However, his character in the hangover was Mike Tyson himself which suggests that he was cast in the role due to the character being himself. This means that actor training may not have been necessary for him to succeed in this role as he is not becoming a different character and he is just playing the role of himself. The Broadway show that he is in is also about his life, meaning that he is playing the role of himself again rather than becoming a different character. This means that the characterization again would be simple for him and therefore, would not need actor training from a university or drama school to succeed in that role. However, actor training may benefit him by improving skills in physicality and vocal work such as projection. Although he is physically fit from being a boxer for so many years, he could improve his performance with physical training so that he can understand how to use his body to help portray his character further. Tyson could also benefit from receiving vocal training, particularly for his performances on Broadway as he can improve his projection but also help to show his emotions and characterization through his voice. Despite his lack of actor training, Tyson has received good reviews on his acting skills for both his performances in film and on Broadway. This suggests that you do not always need to receive actors training from a university or drama school in order to be a successful actor.
Whilst training to be an actor, you develop a variety of skills that not only help towards your final performance but can also help you to perform better during auditions and during the rehearsal process. Training enables the actor to work on imperative actor skills such as physicality, vocal skills such as tone and projection and characterization. Many directors want their actors to be familiar with techniques created by well-known practitioner’s such as Stanislavski and Grotowski. Stanislavski is well known for his involvement in naturalism and many directors may want their actors to use his technique of ‘beating the text’. This is when the actor will annotate their lines in the script to help them understand their character’s intentions and emotions behind the line. This allows them to get into character and fully understand what their character is thinking and feeling. Without any actor training, it is unlikely that someone would know about Stanislavski or his techniques. This means that if they are cast in a naturalistic piece, they would not be aware of his technique of beating the text and might struggle with their characterization and therefore, would not perform as successfully as they may do with actor training. This suggests that actor training can be a huge benefit to improving the actor’s overall performance as well as their rehearsal and exploratory process.
Overall, it is evident that actor training can help with providing the audience with a successful performance. However, this training does not have to come from an acting course at a university or a drama school. Relevant training can come from a variety of different places. For example, the vocal skills that an actor requires can come from musical training and the physical skills can come from sports training. Therefore, although professional actor training helps to provide an actor with the necessary skills needed for a role, it is not imperative. This means that celebrities and popular figures are sometimes still appropriate for lead and supporting roles in films and theatre, despite having not had actor training in a university or drama school.