You may have noticed in the last year or so that Hollywood films have been using big names from the worlds of music and fashion. Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey; Cara Delevingne in Anna Karenina; Rita Ora in Fast and Furious 6; Rihanna in Battleship and Home. For some reason Hollywood production companies are opting to hire people already established in different sectors of the entertainment industry rather than hiring from their pool of actors.
In some ways, this is a logical step. With production companies knowingly choosing people with an established fan base, they are guaranteed a high gross even if the film is bland. For example, hiring Jamie Dornan to play Christian Grey no doubt brought in millions of women to cinemas worldwide. Having already been established as a model for the likes of GAP, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein, Dornan had already gained himself a loyal following of fans. By tying a man who is already known for appearing in his pants to a character many women find attractive, it is a win-win situation for the studio. Just look at the millions of dollars a less than impressive film has brought in worldwide.
Another prime example of the model-as-actor phenomenon is Cara Delevingne. Well known for her thick eyebrows in the fashion world, the British model made the step into acting in Anna Karenina in 2012. Since then, Delevingne has continued modelling and developed a legion of loyal fashionista teens to pore over her latest Instagram snaps. Known for her rebellious fashion statements and being idolised by teenage girls around the world, Delevingne was the logical casting for the latest John Green novel adaptation. Delevingne will be playing Margo Spiegelman, a rebellious teenage girl who runs away from home, and will no doubt become a literary and screen idol for many young women.
While seemingly a clever banking choice, using models or singers as actors isn’t always a sound investment. Talent in one field doesn’t guarantee talent in another. For example, while being classed as a flop, Battleship wasn’t exactly praised for its calibre of performance. In many reviews Rihanna was positively reviewed with one reviewer simply commented that Rihanna “doesn’t embarrass herself”. While not exactly being praised for its story line either, it could be argued that Battleship would have fared better had it received a cast more talented in the acting department. For a film such as Battleship, one that could be considered a risk, tying a name such as Rihanna brings an audience.
However, for a film that has a readymade audience such as Fifty Shades of Grey, introducing an unknown actor would have been a sensible move. Not only would it allow for audiences to speculate what would, in this case, be underneath the suit but also allow an unknown to make his big break. If they are a good enough actor, they would be able to overthrow the ties of a big name series and carve out a career of their own.
It is always pleasing to see a little or unknown actor in a title role of a film, however until production companies are willing to take the risk expect to see the likes of Justin Bieber and Miranda Kerr topping the bills instead.
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