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Greenlight Script Coverage

Greenlight Script Coverage
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American Gem Short Script and Literary Festival

Actors on Acting page 4

Like the best directors and producers, successful actors must choose from among the many projects available to them. As with the other collaborators, it all begins with the script. 

Actor Peter Strauss (Rich Man, Poor Man) explains his approach to script reading, "I always try to approach the script with great excitement. I go and find a quiet corner and open up a screenplay with three anticipations. First is the truth. I don't care if the script is funny, sad, black, yellow, about politics, love, death. I want to find the truth… I want the writer to be daring. The next thing I want to find is magic. I want to be transported by the screenplay. Finally, I need to know that every day coming to work will be a challenge. 

John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment, The World According to Garp), like many other actors, looks for a script with a story that grabs him and takes the character through a journey. "The action of the story affects the character and the changes, going from one point to another as the story unfolds. Also, the character has to have something new about him that surprises me. It might be the way he uses language or a different look or accent- some surprising behavior that I will want to try and pull off." "Don't judge the character," explains actor Kevin Spacey, "Allow them to exist and be fully dimensional, flaws and all, so that you let the audience make that judgment, and they will."

Casting directors are usually the people that bring you, the actor, in to meet with producers and directors of different projects. These directors generally read a script and break down the characters in the script to what they specifically want or need. They then submit this information to Breakdown Services, whom in turn send the information to agents. Clair Sinnett, an independent casting director and actress, has stated that to make it in an acting career, people need to be reminded that "it's show business, not show-art. Actors should realize that they are promoting and marketing themselves just as they would in any other business."

There is perhaps nowhere in which directors differ more than in the way they interact with actors. This begins from the very moment a part for a picture is cast. "One of the blessings is to cast well, to cast carefully. I have a terrific associate in this. We tend to cast for good actors. People who have emotional availability, who have technique, and skills. I'm under the assumption that once we cast the person, they are that character. After all, a character on a page is really only a dozen lines of dialogue. Once you assign those to a whole person, he or she becomes that person," said Arthur Penn, director of such films as Bonnie and Clyde and Night Moves.

There are at least three major factors taken under consideration when a director is casting a role - the audience, the character or role, and the physical appearance of the actor
To cast a specific role effectively, the director must of course have a firm idea of the character. Each role, no matter how big or small, is extremely important to the final outcome of the picture. It has been reiterated numerous times that a film is only as good as its worst performer. Likewise, it is often said that almost any director can evoke an excellent performance from an experienced, talented actor but that good direction is most evident in the quality of the smaller roles.

There are at least three major factors that should be taken under consideration when a director is casting a role. These factors are the audience, the character or role, and the physical appearance of the actor. It is crucial to take audience expectations into consideration when casting a role. Because audiences tend to type-cast certain actors in certain types of roles, placing an actor known for big muscle action films (a perfect example being Arnold Schwarzenegger) in a role such as Dustin Hoffman played in Tootsie would no doubt deter audiences. 

The personality projected by the actor must match audience expectations for the role. Actors have to remember that directors want the actor to be successful. They want you to do a good job. Lori Cobe-Ross (independent casting director) explains, "We really, really are on your side. We want you to be great. We love to call and say 'he/she got the job!"
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