In recent weeks I've been reading several articles about the difficulties of working in the film industry, more specifically the Hollywood film industry, and actors some of us know well, like Rupert Penry-Jones.
I think audiences sometimes seem to think that known actors can decide what they want to film, when they want to film it, but that's not true, not even for the "A-Listers" in Hollywood. Two articles I read recently I think are worth reading by all of us as a reminder that all is not glamour for our favorite actors, and that you're only as bankable as your last performance, or as Hollywood fortunes go.
I've also been reading about the rise of the international box office vs the U.S. box office. The international box office is dominant right now and some critics blame the move to more and more action films on this trend.
Below I'll post some excerpts from two articles that I think are worth reading. I'm highlighting two actors from the hit TV series Game of Thrones, but the article in the New York Times Magazine also talks about Henry Cavill, Michael Fassbender, Chris Hemsworth, and others.
Details magazine has an interesting article and interview with Nicolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones. Nicolaj has been struggling for years to make it in Hollywood. Below excerpts from the article:
"His first gig out of theater school, at 23, was the lead in a thriller called Nattevagten, playing a morgue worker who gets mixed up with murder. It made him a national sensation. In fact, the 1994 film was such a hit, it got remade by Hollywood as Nightwatch, starring Ewan McGregor. But in some ways, Coster-Waldau's early success was the worst thing that could have happened. "It made me kind of an asshole," he admits. "My first job out of drama school was a big hit, so I thought that was the way it worked. You make a movie and it becomes a big hit. Every time. But, of course, it didn't happen that way."
Coster-Waldau spent the next 15 years bumping up against walls and having his ambitions thwarted. Sure, he built a respectable, workmanlike résumé, but nothing that made him stand out. He was being cast as the hunky henchman or as the handsome husband who spends two thirds of the movie in a coma. On those rare occasions when he came close to landing breakout parts, he'd watch with mounting disbelief as they slipped through his fingers." ...
Nikolaj auditioned for the movie Vertical Limits:
"Chris O'Donnell ended up getting the lead in Vertical Limit. And his movie career fell off a cliff shortly afterward. In retrospect, losing out was a blessing in disguise for Coster-Waldau. And it isn't the only bullet he has inadvertently dodged. Four years ago, he was in L.A. again, testing for another star-making lead in a megabudget sci-fi action movie. This time the audition went great: "There was no way I wasn't getting it. The whole thing just felt right." A few days later, the execs from Disney called him at his hotel. They'd decided he was too old for the lead in John Carter.
Of course, no one knew the film would end up being a spectacular bomb—least of all Taylor Kitsch, the young actor who got the role. Coster-Waldau was shattered, done with chasing Hollywood stardom. Then his agents persuaded him to try one last audition before he went back to Copenhagen. HBO was casting a new series and had sent over a script. "I read it and thought it was an amazing part. But dragons and fantasy? I didn't think that was going to go anywhere . . ."
Nikolaj is now hoping playing Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones will finally lead to that elusive Hollywood stardom. To read more, to read the entire article and interview, go to the link below:
Another Game of Thrones actor found out the hard way how elusive that stardom can be. A great article in the New York Times, "The Last, Disposable Action Hero" is really an eye-opener about the state of the Hollywood film industry today. (Thank you TheOneRing.net Message Boards for link to article.)
I'm going to include first some excerpts about Jason Momoa who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. Later I'll highlight some other parts of the article I found interesting. The article deals with much, much, more, and there's also mention of other actors like Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender.
"…Jason Momoa (the man-eating alpha dog), learned about this disposability firsthand. For years, a reboot of the “Conan” franchise had been in the works, possibly starring Schwarzenegger as the aging savage. But when Avi Lerner’s Nu Image Films decided on the revival, in 2008, Lerner and his partners opted to go with an unknown, which would be much cheaper. “Everybody knows I’m a money man,” Lerner told me. “I’m not out to win an Oscar. If I spend $60 million on a movie, I want to make a 20 or 30 percent return.” The “Conan” bake-off reportedly included a not-yet-famous Chris Hemsworth and other relative unknowns, like Kellan Lutz, Jared Padalecki of the TV series “Supernatural” and Momoa, who is best known as the warrior Khal Drogo in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
When the producers finally settled on Momoa in 2010, he threw himself into the role, embarking on an intensive six-week training regimen, working out six hours a day — including two hours of samurai sword practice. He ate a boiled chicken breast every two hours or so, roughly 56 per week, and packed on an additional 30 pounds of muscle to his already brawny frame.
….But “Conan” suffered a dismal opening weekend, earning only $10.5 million domestically…
Momoa, at least, seemed to have caught a bit of a break. He was cast as the lead in “The Red Road,” a Sundance Channel drama about a sheriff fighting to keep his family together while policing two warring communities…Of course, it wasn’t the career he expected back when he was filming “Conan,” but he seemed unfazed. “Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m not going anywhere,” he said, insisting, “I’m not a dime a dozen.”
“The six major studios are releasing about 30 percent fewer movies than they did seven years ago, and they have largely narrowed their focus to expensive concept projects or franchises based on existing intellectual property — comic books, young-adult novels, older movies — that can be rebooted and sold to passionate pre-existing audiences around the world. Because the American movie market now makes up less than a third of global box-office receipts, studios tend to favor projects featuring explosions, car chases and doomsday scenarios — a universal language of violence that translates easily in China, India, Brazil and Europe. Almost without exception, the movies star some beefcake with pecs that make Ben-Hur’s seem puny. In the last three years, the top-grossing movies have included Marvel’s “The Avengers”; “The Hunger Games” and its sequel; “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”; “Thor”; and even “Fast & Furious 6.” What used to be summer blockbusters are now anchoring box offices year round.
In the new action-hero economy, though, actors rarely carry the franchise; more often, the franchise carries the actor. Chris Hemsworth was little known before “Thor,” and no one outside the industry was too familiar with Henry Cavill before “Man of Steel.” Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who produced “Transformers” and this winter’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” told me that studios were gambling on unproven actors for economic reasons. “These movies cost a lot to mount. Adding on the big movie star’s salary is the thing that makes you go, ‘Boy, I don’t know if I can afford it.’
These efforts, though, belie a truth about action heroes: Almost any actor, even some of Hollywood’s most scrawny, can be physically transformed for the part if he’s willing to put in the hard work. The studios know this, which is why any inexpensive unknown can be chosen. The cast for “300,” including a post-“Phantom of the Opera” Butler and the relative newcomer Fassbender, were put on a brutal program with Mark Twight, a trainer whose workouts incorporated medicine balls, kettlebells and rings to emphasize the athleticism of the Spartans. “I would argue that [director] Zack [Snyder] has changed the way that action movies are made,” Twight told me. “In the past, there was a lot of doubling of the actors because they weren’t athletic themselves. With ‘300,’ Zack wanted to make the actors as physically capable as possible so that there would be the absolute minimum of doubling.”
“Eight years ago, there were roughly 150 wide-release movies,” says Mark Gill, the president of Millennium Films. “Last year, there were 115. My prediction is that it will be down to 50 in the next couple years. And there will be fewer tent poles.”
To read the entire article, and I recommend that you do, go to the link below:
After reading the articles I thought, "saying yes to everything", which I interpret as being open to working in all sectors of the industry and not setting limits: stage, movies, TV, audiobooks, narrations, video games, etc, whatever seems worthwhile and a challenge, and not putting all efforts into becoming a "movie star" is the way to go for the long term. I know Sean Bean has been doing that and has managed to be around always working for over 25 years. I also think Richard Armitage is a smart man so I have faith in him and after reading all these articles I can only wonder what he's been going through in Los Angeles with all these auditions. I want to give him a big hug!
"there are no small parts, only small actors". Constantin Stanislavski
If you're interested in the subject of the challenges of the acting profession, you may want to check out my earlier post: