Monday, 31 January 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #668: The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!

Welcome to the show folks...

Here are 2 stories about Jolly Old England, and my thoughts on them:


In case you're living in a cave and I'm your only source of news, you sorry bastard, British actor Henry Cavill has been cast as the new Superman to be directed by Zach Snyder and produced/mentored by Christopher Nolan.

Now some are upset about a Brit being cast as America's greatest superhero, who happens to be an alien co-created by a Canadian. Especially with British actors playing Batman (Christian Bale) and Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). However, I know why these actors were cast, even if the people who cast them don't.

1. BRITISH ACTORS KNOW THEIR PLACE: I've written about this before, but I'll reiterate my point so you or I don't have to go hunting for the post I did last year. You see British actors are taught to believe that acting is a profession, and that fame and success can only come through hard work, talent, and versatility. That means taking not only many roles, but many different roles in many different kinds of projects. It's not much of a stretch to see a British actor star in a big hit movie that wins all kinds of international awards and then go do a guest spot on a TV sitcom back in England.

Too many American actors act, pardon the phrasing, like their job is some sort of sacred calling that puts them above everyone else, and that fame and success is an entitlement that comes from building an
image that must be maintained at all costs. If they become successful then going off to do a smaller project, like a TV guest spot, becomes less about doing interesting work, and more about using said project to promote and maintain said image.

Not all American actors, and not all British actors fit my broad generalizations, but enough do to justify my smug know-it-all statements.

2. BRITISH ACTORS CAN PLAY MACHO: This wasn't always the case. America used to export the highest standard of rough and tumble manliness. Nowadays, try to find a Hollywood actor under 50 who looks like they can win a fight and you'll probably wind up with a very short list and, Angelina Jolie would be at the top of it.

Now some critics say that this is caused by the metro-sexualization of Hollywood leading men because of the influence of gay culture, but I disagree. Gay actors in the past like Rock Hudson, could play macho manly characters without a problem, and today, there are some openly gay actors who can play macho way better than many of Hollywood's leading hetero actors.

I believe that the low testosterone levels among the younger Hollywood heroes stems from Hollywood's obsession with youth, or what I call "Juvenile Dementia." Too many of today's stars are more boyish than manly. They don't look like they could make a vital life and death decision in the face of chaos and evil, they don't even look like they can grow a decent beard. This makes far too many Hollywood actors too boyish even for the relatively boyish role of Peter Parker.

I guess I can sum it up by saying that too many of Hollywood's young actors seem
un-serious, more fitting to playing petulant whiny self-absorbed navel gazers or boorish immature frat-boy slacker hybrids than real heroes.

The question one has to ask when casting an action hero type is:
Will this man back me up in a brawl, or will he scream "NOT THE FACE!" run away, and hit on my girlfriend while I'm getting my ass kicked?

Now look through a list of current Hollywood heroes, and check off those who would give you the right answer to that question and you'll be shocked at how few you'll find.


Fox Searchlight the pseudo-indie division of the 20th Century Fox/News Corp empire has joined up with indie financier Ingenious to finance and distribute British independent films.

Now this bodes well for British film on several levels. Fox Searchlight was run differently than the other faux-indies run by the major studios, and that's why it's still around and most of the others have been shuttered. The others were created pretty much for one purpose, to get awards and indie street cred for the studio, the people who run it, and their close friends.

Fox Searchlight's purpose was run to buy and release independent films that had a chance of making a profit, even a small one. So while the other companies may have dominated awards season more than Searchlight, Searchlight stayed in business.

This deal shows that Fox Searchlight sees profit potential in British independent films. They aren't buried under an over-priced star system, and those accents can make anything look respectable. Now similar deals between American studios and British producers have fallen through in the past, usually over choice of project.

British filmmakers should see this as a challenge to be overcome strategically, rather than as a call to man the artistic barricades. The key to overcoming this problem is trust.

Now in Hollywood the only use of the word trust is to describe the funds that support vacuous heiresses, but it is something these British filmmakers can do.

First you make some films with some commercial appeal. They don't have to be mini-versions of big Hollywood studio blockbusters, but fill that huge mid-range gap in drama, and genre films that the big studios and the other indies are ignoring.

If they are made within budget, and then make money then you can earn trust as a reliable filmmaker who isn't wild and crazy with their money. Once you reach a certain level, you can slip in more daring work, if you do it cheaply. If it loses money, then it's no biggie, because they know and trust you to do quality work at a reasonable cost.

I call the Clint Eastwood strategy, he's been making his own films, his own way for almost 40 yrs, and so can you.


  1. It is called PROFESSIONALISM, something brit actors know and something that very few on Hollywood have a grasp on, most of them are over 35+.

    Except for a few of the Disney teen stars, Despite her treatment stint, I never heard any stories of Demi Lovato acting unprofessional, much of her issues probably stemed from her working too hard.

    Hollywood needs to realize that it is a job, the fame and money come from you doing that job, not starting a porn star family like Charlie Sheen is doing.

  2. Dirty McDingus sezs:
    I'm under the understanding that you're up in the great white north so... duu deududududu-DuDuDUUU! you have now just be BONED~ I know this shit is coming in like a silent fart in America, but you're governmente jumping ahead of those south of you!

  3. Well, I'm not signed onto an independent ISP. My service is directly with the big monster service. It'll probably be killed by parliament because it's a business killer, and the ruling Tories can't afford to lose the small business people.

  4. Dirty McDingus sezs:
    Well~ u knw ur cntry better than I in those regards; but back on the topic mentioned.. you missed the Biggest difference btw yankees and brits= Governmente Hand-outs! Since the end of WW2, Britian and the rest of eurotrash-land didn't need to drop 20~25% of their budget every year on Military Usage! So they fatten the social hand-out to such an obscene degree, a person can (& Does) live off it to the grave.
    Now with that mental thought; consider the brit actor: who could do shit nothing for months, make a big governmente sponsored flick 'The Kings Speech', return to the comfortable monthly check, months later: show up in a theatrical 3 month play, a sitcom, ad nasuem.
    _consider the yankee: Who must on a DAILY BASIS go to long lines for roles as a background NO SPEAKING viewer of corpses overlooked by Head Lining "Stars", maybe luck out on a bit part of ONE episode to a tv show, go to work at a temp job in btw, live with other dope smoking rejects pining for the "Big Break!" in a two room apt while collecting a monthly governmente check that might pay off the overpriced rent and meager food bill Bi-WEEKLY...
    _a BIG & HUGE difference indeed

  5. Now some critics say that this is caused by the metro-sexualization of Hollywood leading men because of the influence of gay culture, but I disagree. Gay actors in the past like Rock Hudson, could play macho manly characters without a problem . .

    You're right about it not being "gay culture". But I think you're wrong about the "youth" idea.

    The agenda is to normalize "gayness" so it is no longer something odd or strange to Joe Public. This has been an ongoing in your face process of featuring boy-men in starring roles for over a decade. In addition, gays constitute a much larger percentage of movie goers (and are wealthier)than their representation in the general population - and hence are catered to by Hollywood with characters they can relate to.

    My personal preference would be for Hollywood to produce genre movies that appeal directly to gays, but can still be enjoyed by straights, rather than water down movies that straight guys want to see.

  6. If gays are wealthier, then I must create the GAY religion, so I can get some of that cash.

    Biggest Problems is getting them to worship Liberace as the last living incarnation o the King of Atlantis and recognize Sir Elton John as their prophet on Earth.

  7. Look at all the Brits/Scots who were on "Band of Brothers": Damian Lewis(Winters), Shane Taylor(Doc Roe),Nicholas Aaron (Popeye), Dexter Fletcher(Martin),Ross McCall(Liebgott), Rick Warden(Harry Welsh), Robin Laing(Heffron), Matthew Leitch(Talbert), Tim Matthew(Penkala), Peter O'Meara(Lt. Dike), Jason O'Mara(Lt. Meehan), Marc Warren (Blithe) and Tom Hardy (Janovec). What made BofB great were the characters and how a lot of these guys nailed their real counterparts they portrayed. The two who played Liebgott and Heffron made you believe those characters were from San Francisco and Philly. Damian Lewis made you believe how great Winters was. And Tom Hardy even played a great Army Ranger in "Black Hawk Down" (which was another movie with Brits with believable characters.

  8. Furious D is a fantastic read. Looking forward to the book. Usually read but not comment, but hey let's throw in a few thoughts.
    The US cinema box office is not (in relative terms) what it used to be.
    In the 1990s 80% of cinema revenue was from The US, hence US stars ruled as the US customer was king. Avatar took 73% of its cinema revenue outside The USA (and although not the ideal example of star led vehicles) and shows the US box office is no longer the first and last word in casting considerations.
    The UK is the third biggest cinema box office but does not follow the US box office exactly. After The Firm and Pelicon Brief (whose stars were then at their hottest at the box office), John Grisham movies can not fill a telephone box in the UK (despite some of the movies being very good).
    UK stars speak English and increasingly play well enough internationally....but often at cut price deals.
    I think that the answer is money.
    The superhero characters sell the movie and the lead actors do not add very much to the box office. However in a long franchaise (say 4 movies in 4 years) they can take a great deal of money. US stars, even minor ones, are never undersold by their agents. Few are Johnny Depp or Will Smith who do deliver at the box office.
    UK actors are much cheaper wanting the work and hoping for a longterm career. Michael Caine at the height of his box office fame in Hollywood insisted his agent keep his fee low as he wanted several films a year. He had seen British Stars not work in films for years in Hollywood because they were looking too hard for interesting roles or big fees. He always took the view that if you make enough movies, the average ratio of hits will kick in and keep you from being retired by the business as you seem to have a hit at least every 18 months. If you have a few flops, the hit will come along just in time. He also pointed out that he is always learning from constant practice in front of the camera, and that you get paid just as much for a hit as a miss and for a miss as a hit. He also pointed out that he had not known when he was in a hit or a miss.
    I think that some of his mentality has rubbed off on British film actors and they are in it for the longterm, even at bronze prices, than seeking the maximum gold their agent can get. After all Michael Caine has a few Oscars, huge respect and affection, and is still in demand 50 years after he started in movies. His professionalism and humility have won him friends who know he turns up on time, knows all his lines, never complains and gets on with everyone.
    It is not always so with every actor. Many superhero franchaise lead actors and also established 007 leading men had agents who priced themselves out of continued work in the role. In a recast, the stars start off on film 1 cheaper than at any other point in the cycle and superheros are easy to recast.
    How many Supermen and Batman can you list ?
    One actor top of the list for the new 007 when it was going through a casting round had an agent who priced him right off the table.
    You are right that not all Brits and Hollywood stars do follow the pattern. Some Brits are greedy vain monsters and Hollywood stars are actors interested in perfecting their craft.
    I see Denzel Washington as more of the noble quality British actor school.
    Incidentally let's have INSIDE MAN 2.