Not everyone on a television show should know their best side. (Basil Hoffman, before one of his takes here, said “I don’t have a good side; just get your shot.”) Generally, I don’t think the men, in particular, should look as though they know where to buy exfoliating soap. Although I enjoyed the television show “Lost,” you almost sensed that a dozen blow-dryers were hovering off camera somewhere, ready to re-establish each actor’s style-sheet. For that matter, consider Angelina Jolie in
“The Tourist.” The glamour story boards that must have been drawn to move her from one posh European setting to the next, almost remain comic story boards in the film itself. She’s beautiful, but she’s funny-beautiful. I found myself chuckling at the preposterously glamorous heroine walking around the city with a hair-light and a tooth-tinkle.
Obviously, you can go overboard with the beautiful people thing, but I’ve seen enough independent film to know there are some faces that just can’t be watched for very long. It doesn’t really have much to do with conventional good looks either. There are some character actors, with very odd faces indeed, who can carry a story, close-ups and all, for two hours. A face has to some dimension of legend and fable to it, something an artist could draw, or would want to draw. In Courage, I’m proud that we cast actors who seemed to communicate a lot with their faces, and more than just their good looks. (Early on in the casting process someone said “oooh, look at that, she acts with her eyes..” Her eyes, in other words, were both credible and easy to watch. ) Because the craft of an actor is so important, it’s tempting to believe it can triumph over a plain, or a battered, or a wildly fatigued face. But the old Hollywood studio heads knew differently: Looks — confound it — actually count for something.
The tough part for me is that, heh, heh, I actually cast myself in the midst of all this God-given fairness-to-behold, and — to tell you the plain truth — it’s a bit painful looking at yourself in take after take. Note for next episode: give Silas a few less scenes!