Two Peas in a Pod

         When an actor or actress is assigned to a role, it is the actor or actresses responsibility to bring that character to life. The director wants the actor to be able to allow the audience the ability to relate to the character(s). The actor needs to study how the character reacts in different situations, how the character speaks, and how the character would present him/herself. There are several films that we watched this semester in which the actor really allows the character to come to life. For example, in his 1973 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, Jane Fonda is cast as Nora by the director Joseph Losey. Several of the films watched in class have actors who really bring their character to life. However, there are some films where the actors do not bring the character to life.

         In the film, A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey, the director cast Jane Fonda to play Nora. Jane really brings Nora to life. Nora is a woman who is conniving, yet reserved at the same time. Jane knows how to portray the character in such a way so that the audience really believes Jane is Nora. Nora is living in a doll's house where she has to cater to her husband's every need. However, she is a woman who wants to be free; she does not want to live in the doll's house anymore. One can see the determination Nora wants in order for Torvald, Nora's husband, to know the secret, and how she wants to leave and not be Torvald's doll. One is able to see this through Jane's acting. Jane becomes Nora.

         Another actor who was able to fit in his character's shoes is Marlon Brando in the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play. In this film, Marlon Brando plays Stanley Kowlaski, who is married to Stella (Kim Hunter). Stanley Kowlaski is a person who is angered easily and has violent tendencies. Marlon Brando portrays this character very well, because Marlon has tendencies similar to Stanley's. Another amazing actor in this film was Blanche, Stella's schizophrenic sister, who comes to stay with them until she receives help. Blanche DuBois does not know she is schizophrenic; however, she does somewhat know she is not right in the head. Vivien Leigh plays Blanche and is able to allow the audience to feel the how Blanche must feel at times: confused, scared, and lonely. One is able to understand what is going on at the end where a mirror is broken and Blanche faints. It is then when people come to take her to get help.

         Although there were many actors who are able to play their characters, there are many characters that could not bring their character to life, due to poor casting by the director. One film in which the actor is not able to relate to the character is in the 1973 film, A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, who cast Claire Bloom as Nora and Anthony Hopkins as Torvald. While Torvald is a strong character, Nora should have more of a dominant roll in the film. Anthony Hopkins has such a strong and domineering personality, which comes through in his acting. His acting ability would have made the film better if he had had an actress who was just as strong of a personality as he does. He is not able to allow Claire the limelight she needs in order to bring Nora to life. Nora, as a character, is suppose to be timid around Torvald, yet Claire takes this timid behavior to an extreme; it seems as though she is scared to death of Torvald, and she does not allow her audience to see the conniving and manipulation in which is suppose to take place.

         As one can see, acting has a major effect on a film. Directors need to make sure actors are going to do their part in understand every aspect of a character. Actors need to understand how the character thinks, speaks, and lives. Directors should not cast a person to play a part if they do not feel the actor will bring his/her character to life. It is important for actors to become their characters in order for the vision of the director to be accurate.

Allison Armstrong

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