EDITORIAL: In Defense of the Actors

EDITORIAL: In Defense of the Actors

Why are fans so quick to attack actors wanting to leave our beloved medium? Are we too easily offended? Pardon the rant, but I think there's a few things that need to be said.

Actors have not always been glorified for their talents. Before the time of cinema, many actors were some of the lowest of the low in society. People were enamored by their talent, but notsomuch their actual occupation (especially in comparison to their own). Flash forward to the present where now, of course, people have wild obsessions with actors and entertainers. Despite the fact that we know what they do is provide visual and interpreted fiction, they still manage to captivate us by channeling emotion and bravado through intensive character study, practice, and training.

And there remains this hatred of actors for how they are issued or paid for their jobs. Many see their fame and paycheck as undeserved for someone who merely "gets in front of people and fakes something." And they point to those who are incredibly "spoiled" and yet celebrated for their profession. The targets don't go too far from routine in Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Charlie Sheen...and I'm not here to defend their personal lives. I'm not here to say anything along the lines of, "They're actors, they get a freebie." I think that actors, musicians, any sort of celebrity who breaks the law should face the appropriate consequences. But that's not what this is about.

This is about the recent backlash of actors like Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman (though, at this point in time, we have no official statement from Portman) wanting the termination of their contracts to multiple projects. There've been talks from fans, many of whom have changed their opinions on their previous performances in Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger unfairly, about how this "disloyalty" to the franchises is some unforgivable sin. That these are people who should just "buckle down" and deal with it, because they "knew what they were getting into." So, let's run through a few things.

You're right. These are seasoned actors. They know what they're "getting into." But the filmmaking business is not the same as your average work week. This is not just a matter of showing up, saying lines, and leaving. In fact, the press tour, interviews, and the like for the film are often done for months after shooting. This includes travel, interviews, press screenings, etc. etc. And these aren't robots. These are people. And remember that they're also not exactly playing the leads in these movies. "There are no small roles" doesn't apply, here. Actors like to explore different worlds and different characters. It's a major factor in why they do what they do. And some actors just don't get fulfillment out of certain parts. It just doesn't happen, and they don't want to get stuck doing it. Many have trained for years, extensively, learning, just as someone else would in biological studies, the ins and outs of character psychology. Learning from the classics and modern techniques. The world of acting is enormous. Mind-blowing. And quite frankly, it's really *ucking difficult. Sure, it's possible to fake it, but genuine actors don't want to fake it. They're in it for the entire experience. The art in the craft.

Do you honestly think that Natalie Portman, someone who went to Harvard to continue her education because of her love for learning, has a desperate desire to return to a fairly one-note character? That's not pompous thinking. This is an actress that is very much in her prime and is also a new mother. She's fully aware of the importance of dedication to a film. Weaving as well. And they're both probably fully aware that they aren't detrimental to the film in absence. If anything, shouldn't we encourage them going to other projects?

And don't take that as an opportunity to make the "they'll just phone it in" case because they're doing a "movie they don't want to do." An actor's product is their body. Their voice. Their being. It doesn't do any actor any benefit to purposefully try and destroy a film, merely because they don't want to play a certain part. Do you really believe that Hugo Weaving is going to continually get offered parts if his phoned-in, horrific performance in a Captain America sequel leads it to be disastrous? The business doesn't work that way. Actors have to be consistent in their craft, or they won't get work.

The problem here is the insecurity of the fans. We think that this breaks up continuity. It's almost as if these people think these actors are the characters. We feel unjustified and betrayed, because we trusted these people to bring these characters to life. And now, because their passions do not fall in line with our own, we attack them. We attack their past performances. We attack their work ethic. Their craft and their talent. We become juvenile. We form a cult where, unless their beliefs about the characters and comics mirror our own, we banish them as if they never gave us anything at all.

It's important to remember that actors do have it rough. Fame is often the price many actors don't necessarily ask for. They try to live behind shields or even live in a different country to escape the spotlight. The paychecks are big because they're big parts of big projects. When projects have budgets of $100 million plus, the fact is that the major players are going to get a big cut. They're responsible for the success of the project. They are the face on the movie body. Do actors sometimes ask for unspeakably obscene amounts of money? Absolutely they do. I don't deny that. But the logic makes sense in that huge projects garnish huge paychecks.

At this point in time, I'm an aspiring writer and actor. I work off-jobs and am a full-time student. But do I get upset when I'm cleaning the aisles in a movie theater making minimum wage, knowing that actors are getting paid millions of dollars to make a movie? No. I just don't. I really couldn't care less. It'd be senseless. I can't compare myself to those people. My life is too different. Too many different things and paths have crossed me in relation to all the different opportunities that have passed them. They have their own path or work, I have mine. I don't understand all the ins and outs of contracts. I've never had to deal with one. I've never been offered what they have. I, frankly, wouldn't know what to do with it.

Do I think that in comparison to jobs of service like that of teachers, and firemen, and such that it doesn't seem fair that all this money goes to one person? I do. But I also understand that movie studios are working with budgets that many small towns and cities just don't have. And do I think the world needs to be more charitable? Absolutely, and these are the people who need to lead the way. And hundreds of them do.

All I ask is that the next time you attack an actor for their "work ethic" or "job," that you understand that you don't really understand. You're at an arms length, watching through the lens, and paying to do so. I'm not saying we should unabashedly worship actors. I'm saying we should check out the bigger picture before we ignite our torches.

And with that, I say let the comments ignite. There's plenty left to say, but I'm not the only one with a voice. Have at it.

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Member Since 3/19/2012
Filed Under "Other" 10/20/2012
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MrReese - 10/21/2012, 12:29 AM
Weren't ppl saying that they should kill off Jane in the 1st place? Now that she wants 2 be let go u guys want her 2 stay. lol I say let her go & have Thor start a relationship with Sif.

As 4 Red Skull he's a big part of Caps story so that makes it easier 2 hate on Weaving XD

Nice write up btw.......u my friend get a booty clap XD

aresww3 - 10/21/2012, 12:33 AM
@battlin - well said battlin. I can´t believe what some of these people have been saying about Natalie, who was gracious enough to even accept such an underdeveloped role. seriously her role was almost so bad it could have been taken out of a silver age comic.
aresww3 - 10/21/2012, 12:58 AM
I just read it more thoroughly and I think this really good, giving a thumbs up, but I think you should also mention Norton and Rourke, marvels treatment of these two modern genius´s, who at there best have the quality of Brando in them Norton fight Club, AHX, 25th Hour, Primal Fear, simply the best movies of the 90s, and Rourke The Wrestler, Sin City Marv - genius.
Norton writes a decent Hulk movie, and Marvel Carve it up so bad, that it´s terrible all cause they were scared their fans are so stupid they wouldn´t get a Bruce Banner with some depth. As if the reason the first Hulk was bad is because it was to deep. No the reason the first Hulk was bad is because of Hulk dogs, silly villain, messing with the source material. The one thing I liked about the first Hulk was the attempt - all be it failed - to create a real 3 dimensional character. Norton actually achieved that with William Hurt and Norton giving brilliant performances ¡, that would have saved the film from being a glorified toy commercial. Marvel then came in and butchered it, so the continuity, and story barely even made sense, in the process potentially ruining one of Hollywoods brightest young careers in Edward Norton.

On a side note listening to some of the comments from Marvel fans maybe Marvel were right to dumb down the content of the film. It´s a traversty.

Now I don´t no the full story with Rourke, and I know he truly is pre madona; but if he thinks comic movies are below him, he´s making some odd choices recently. Sin City 2, The Expendables etc. The fact is this Kevin Fague is a bully single handedly dumbing down the comic movie industry and putting out some of the worst product out there, and Marvel fans are giving him accolades for it. Yeah Avengers was good, but movies like Sin City, Watchmen, Batman Begins, X-Men First Class and The A Spiderman, make it look somewhat lacking, and once the novelty of a team superhero movie wares off which will happen soon we´ll be left with one-dimensional characters, with no depth, no story, no reason for being, badly designed costumes (Captain America) no heart, stupid haircuts (Loki) and who aren´t even the comic characters we´ve grown to love. what do you think Battlin. I would love if you revise this to mention some of the backstory and Kevin Feges business ethic.

calin88 - 10/21/2012, 2:40 AM
If you're an actor, you have to sign a contract to do a movie, if you don't want to do more, talk to the studio if they agree on a one picture deql, if not, just don't do the movie, instead of signing for multiple films and start bitching after the first. You signed, you do it, that's how it works
TheNightmare - 10/21/2012, 2:52 AM
I completely agree with this article I actually like both Hugo and Natalie in their role. Now Portman's role was not as important and I actually would like them to get rid of her since she wasn't around very long in the comic book anyway, but I still like her. If she wants to leave i am not bothered by it I want her to stay for one last movie so to get the chance to leave on screen even if she only on screen for five minutes. I wish her, Hugo, and everyone else that is working for or were on cbm good luck in their futures.

I do not agree with you areww3 I actually enjoy a lot of marvels phase one. I did not like either hulk movie and I did not care about the depth of Bruce, to me neither movie really brought the essence of the Hulk but I'm not a huge Hulk fan anyway. I did not like Watchmen at all, GL sucked, Ghost Rider was horrible. To me it doesn't matter which company makes movies DC or Marvel they can suck. To say that Marvel is single handily dumbing down the CBM industry is not fair, since the only real "intelligent" DC or Marvel movie to me was the Batman trilogy.

I see all over this site one group of fans attack another for being "Stupid," but really both group are the same. They just have different reason for liking something so let us be a little less aggressive and try to explain without coming off like you are better because your a DC fan or a Marvel fan and the other one sucks.

By the way I asked a group which Flash was better they said Wally. So I have a question should I try to get into Wally Flash in the new 52 are read some older issues then read new 52 flash.
TheNightmare - 10/21/2012, 2:53 AM
meant to put a ? there but oh well
marvel72 - 10/21/2012, 4:07 AM
i couldn't careless if certain actors return or not,but if you sign a multi picture deal & marvel want you back you should return for that particular role if required.
aresww3 - 10/21/2012, 4:12 AM
@the nightmare - I never said that GL or Ghost rider was good. As for the Hulk movie, you admitted you didn´t like it, that was cause Marvel cut it up so it didn´t make any sense. I don´t think Marvel is responsible, I think Kevin Feige is for making movies that are sooner or later going to run their course and be forgotten. I´m hoping DC doesn´t make the same mistake, and takes their heroes in the direction they are taking "man of steel", with passionate people they give the freedom to tell their own story about these fantastic characters. Also, I´m a big marvel fan, so you must have misunderstood me.

Personally If I were you I´d stay clear of the new 52, its not been that good. Wait for fingers crossed The Flash Earth One. I hope they do it, but who knows. I respect what your saying I don´t like being aggressive unless I´m pushed, and I think it´s embarrassing some of the comments about brilliant actors like Ed Norton, Rourke and now Natalie Portman, who are all brilliant actors. If any one deserves the obscene money these actors get then its actors like these.
AINTNOTHINTOFOCWIT - 10/21/2012, 5:03 AM
but the thing is Natalie Portman didn't bitch. some one just found out that she didn't want to do it and blew it out of proportion. she hasn't released any statement. Although people go to jobs they don't love. and get the job done. they don't ever just sit there quiet. its too easy to take a jab at a Natalie Portman. especially to the connoisseurs of this site. they almost want to handle it as harsh as possible
AINTNOTHINTOFOCWIT - 10/21/2012, 5:08 AM
@aresww3 you make a great point. and i think Marvel unfortunately will not make it realitically past stage 2. but who knows
AINTNOTHINTOFOCWIT - 10/21/2012, 5:10 AM
* realistically
marvelstudios - 10/21/2012, 5:57 AM
IMHO its kind of unethical and frankly selfish of these kind of actors/actresses. I heard both Portman and Weaving signed 3 movie contracts. Now, why would you sign a contract like this if your not going to come back? Other actors and actresses would kill to have acting contracts like this.
superotherside - 10/21/2012, 6:31 AM
Fantastic write up as always, BattlinMurdock! Personally, I couldn't care less if they come back or not with some actors. I've never been disappointed when they recast someone, in fact Marvel has always recast an better actor for the role. Naturally, there has only been two recasts so far, but I think that's a pretty good record considering other franchises recasting. To me as long as Marvel keeps up the quality of recasting, I don't mind. Personally so far most of the actors have done well with their character at the least ok. So that's already better than a lot of popular franchises. I'm not complaining against the actors or Marvel. I think both can work well together, and wish all of them the best!
CaptainDC - 10/21/2012, 6:51 AM
Great article! Anyways I'm two sided about this topic. Yes, these actors did chose to sign a multi film contract, but how were they supposed to know whether they would like it or not? These actors are trying to make a living, and by them choosing not to come back means they are giving up a lot of money. People tend to not care about Weaving's Red Skull as much, but he was one of my favorite characters from Captain America TFA, and would kick ass when or if he does come back. I am truly saddened if Red Skull never comes back because he is just awesome. Anyways, these actors should attempt to honor there contracts, but if they really feel strongly about not coming back, we should not force them too.
Tainted87 - 10/21/2012, 7:41 AM
Thank you for this. I know I wasn't alone, but I was getting tired of seeing the same crap over and over again.

I think it's crazy how quick the tide can turn. Years ago, Natalie Portman was like the A-lister Summer Glau of geekdom. Used to be, whenever you'd spot a fancast, you'd get her in there somewhere, or if you didn't it was because fans were worried about being lambasted for including A-listers who wouldn't be interested in their fantasy project.

I'm going to take a wild guess and say that most of these fans who are bashing, insulting, and mocking the actress have forgotten her contributions.

Which is why I'm here!

Leon was Jean Reno's FIRST starring role, even going so far as to portray the title character. The stoic hitman had the rug pulled out from him by none other than Natalie Portman in HER first film period, in the form of a girl now-orphaned and looking to Leon for more than just a father figure. She was 12 years-old.

Four very small roles later - some alongside legends like Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino, Portman is picked up by George Lucas to play the mother of Princess Leia. Incidentally, it has become her most famous role to date, regardless of the scripts' atrocious dialogue and the inevitable pull into the damsel-in-distress and love interest. Still, she proved to have a strong head on her shoulders.

Yeah, I went there. And why not? Immediately following her Star Wars trimester, Natalie Portman co-starred in Closer with the likes of Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and Clive Owen. Every other character is literally an extra, and this gave her the opportunity to grab her cast by the balls with her performance, as well as shed her acquired family-friendly image.

Last but certainly not least, is Evey. Not wishing to alienate her fans, Portman returned to the geek scene to co-star alongside Hugo Weaving in the Wachowski Bros' adaptation of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta. If you haven't read the graphic novel, then I'll elaborate why this is so important. You see, Evey was a complete MORON in the book, on top of Moore's usual portrayal of women in his writing - she was NOT what you could call a "strong female character". She had every reason NOT to take the role, but the Wachowskis had bigger plans for her. How many "spoiled actresses" do you know who are willing to shave their heads bald for a role?
BooYah - 10/21/2012, 8:36 AM
I agree, everyone's been blaming the actor/actresses for not wanting to do another Marvel movie. Maybe its Marvel's fault. I mean Hugo had no problem being in all 3 Lord of the Rings, 3 Matrix, and 3 Transformers (even though he regrets it now). And Portman is usually all in for those sci-fi fantasy type movies. Just my opinion, could be wrong.
Tainted87 - 10/21/2012, 8:49 AM
The most important point though is the fact that there are no facts given, not a single quote was supplied, and just how nonchalantly the bit about Natalie Portman was thrown in the article, and then they went back to Hugo Weaving.

Which means that all the knee-jerk fanboys most likely got punk'd.

Not as bad as Mystic River, but still.
BSingerFoxMen - 10/21/2012, 9:51 AM
If I sign a loan contract, I am expected to repay that loan, otherwise I face consequences. I sign the loan papers knowing what I'm getting into. I think actors, and actresses should be held up the same as everyone else, but instead they are put on some pedestal for whatever reason. They may not have a "regular work week" but don't act like they have it SOOO hard! They show up, say a few lines, do some press, get loved from fans, and make millions of dollars! Oh...my...God, I don't know how they function! As for Natalie Portman, yeah she went to Harvard, but what's that got to do with anything? She IS a one note actress. I have never seen anything in her bag of acting tricks besides wooden line delivery. Why else do you think they put her with Hayden in the prequels? So that it would look as though the scenes were SUPPOSED to come across as crappy as they did! I disagree with the defending of the actors. They signed a contract, fulfill it, just like everyone else has to do!
TheNightmare - 10/21/2012, 11:10 AM
areww3 I understand a little, I didn't know marvel cut up the hulk movie. So I can understand what you tell me and you didn't seem to be to rude other than I felt you grouped all marvel fans together, but everything else is opinion and it is yours to have. So I actually learned stuff from your post, I guess I got a little defensive and I apologize for that.

Also about Flash i look around see what I can find near here or online for Wally West. I've never read him my dad has some old Flash but since I've been coming to this site everyone tells me to read Wally West Flash.
DrDoom - 10/21/2012, 11:12 AM
Contract's a contract. I have nothing personal against the actors, but contract's a contract. Simple.
MrCameron - 10/21/2012, 11:14 AM
^Yeah, if they don't want to be part of theese movies anymore, then why sign a multi-picture contract in the first place?
Tainted87 - 10/21/2012, 11:27 AM
My point, which is pretty simple, is that there is absolutely nothing official about Natalie Portman being "forced" by her contract. Nothing.

So she could be doing her thing, showing up when she's needed, doing everything to your heart's desire.... but you'll take the word of ONE flimsy site (which doesn't cite any sources or give ANY quotations) that she's not.

I mean it's like if I were to clock-in at work, but be in an area of my store where my store manager hasn't seen me, and because she hasn't seen me, I must be late or a no-show.

Use the space between your ears is all I'm saying.
tonytony - 10/21/2012, 11:36 PM
Marvels films lack depth. There is a reason this keeps happening to them. If u want to turn all cbm into power rangers thats fine but you cant complian if actors run away from the franchise then.
Orphix - 10/22/2012, 1:53 AM
I thought it was pretty common knowledge that a multi-picture deal is fairly standard.

Essentially if you turn down a film because of that clause you would basically exclude the option of doing any large budget film.

So saying that the actors know what they're getting into and should refuse to sign if they don't want to do more films doesn't really work.

Also what happens when you sign two contracts that contradict each other. I am sure Josh Dallas signed a multi-picture deal - but his deal with a TV series over ruled it.

So it seems a contract is never just 'a contract'.
jjk2814 - 10/22/2012, 3:54 PM
Man, good job. Good editorial, really.

Thanks for bringing some civility.

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