Twelve Monkeys: repetition
Initial responses to Arrival (2016)

Actors & Acting

We've discussed the role that actors play in how audiences might interpret or relate to a film. Certain actors bring certain expectations, e.g., for most people Jimmy Stewart signifies decency, Bruce Willis signifies toughness. However, filmmakers can either use these expectations in casting or try to subvert them by casting against type, e.g., as noted in class, Brad Pitt's role in Twelve Monkeys can be seen as going against type as a romantic leads. Actors, in this sense, are important parts of mise-en-scene.

Do you have strong impressions of any of the actors that have appeared in the films we have screened? Were those actors used in roles you would expect or cast against type? How effective were they used in either case? What's the difference between someone who is simply an actor and someone who is "star"? What do stars bring to films? For you, who are the movie stars that we've seen this term? Have any of the films been "star-less"?

Comments

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Jessica Brown

For me, it was a little strange to see Brad Pitt act goofy and as a schizophrenic. I think the casting staff were very thoughtful about choosing Pitt for a role like this. I think they were taking advantage of that contrast. Because we don't expect Brad Pitt to act like this, it seems even more strange.

Becky Bond

This is a topic I'm very passionate about. As I am presently about to finish my undergrad in acting, this topic has come up a lot in my time here. In both the film and theater world you will be cast in things according to your "type". Meaning you will be judged solely on your looks, not your capabilities, in order to fill a void. And it sucks. A lot. We keep talking about how unusual it was to see Brad Pitt in a role outside of his usual type cast, but what if he had been cast as James? I imagine with his experience he could have performed the role adequately, but would it have detracted from the movie? Would that character have been less believable if the two lead actors switched roles? It's a very fascinating concept, our perceptions of actors in the limelight. It's also probable that if the two male leads were cast with less well known actors the movie would have got less attention. It's all opinion based. luckily both Hollywood and stage are in the middle of a revolution, casting wise, right now. Both industries are trying to be more inclusive and less judgy.

Linnea

I think Brad Pitt does great in this role and that his star status does not really take away from the film since it also stars Bruce Willis who also very famous. It would be way more jarring if the film was filled with unknown leads and Brad Pitt was randomly a supporting character(Matt Damon does this sometimes, he'll randomly play a delivery man or something and it always takes me out of the movie). But Brad Pitt handles the role very well and does a good job in it. I

It's also not like this was the last of this kind of role he'd play. I think it may of been the first time he moved away from the handsome hero type but since then hes been a supporting character in a few other films that are a little different and he always seems to do well.

Garret Adams

I think that seeing Brad Pitt not playing a typical Brad Pitt role was interesting to see and he also did a very good job in his role. I think that the fact that hes Brad Pitt didnt take away anything from the film at all.

Jesus Hernandez

I agree with Garret, seeing Brad Pitt play the role of a crazy guy didn't take away from the movie. That shows in my opinion the performance of a great actor. He was able to pic up a different role than what we are used to seeing him and have a great performance.

Blake Bauer

I think casting against type has a specific benefit. When an actor is cast with generally the same role it gives you the feeling you already know something about that character when you see them. A good example is Tom Cruise. He almost always plays the same role so when you see him in a movie your like that character is good with guns and maybe a bit crazy. But then when you cast against an actor's usual type then the viewer feels like they know nothing about the character, giving a lot of mystery to the character. In my opinion, this is what is happening with Brad Pitt since he doesn't usually play a crazy character it adds another layer of mystery to the character.

Kevin Smith

I was very surprised to see Jim Carrey's performance in Eternal Sunshine. All of the roles that I had seen him in previously were very wacky and goofy, such as in The Mask or Ace Ventura. Seeing him play a very meek character was really cool for me to see, and it enhanced my opinion of both the actor and the film for subverting my expectations.

Ryan Giles

I thought Brad Pitt did a good job in this movie. This is completely different from all the other roles he played during his career, he always the normal guy that either plays it cool or plays it safe. In this role, he plays as an insane activist that wants animals to be free, like other actors this could be called method acting. Meaning taking a role that could transform you into a completely different person that could surprise people.

Caleb Kuhl

There is something about Brad Pitt that confuses me to a major degree. There is something about his character Jeffery that just makes me view Brad Pitt as not being Brad Pitt. Is it his insanity of the character? Is it the ponytail on his head? But how can that be if the moment I first saw Jeffery, I couldn't see Brad Pitt? Whatever the case, Brad Pitt did a very good job at stepping away from a serious role like in Oceans 11, and going off on a completely different track.

Becky Bond

I agree with some of the aforementioned comments in that casting an actor in a role that strays from their type really shows their full range and skill set.

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