Fashion a screenplay for specific actors?

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  • Fashion a screenplay for specific actors?

    Is it helpful or counter-productive in terms of characterization - particularly for beginners like me?

    I'm tempted to do it but should I? Your opinion based on experience? :rollin

  • #2
    I believe someone, Crash maybe, gave a good response to a similar question recently. It's good to have specific actors in mind as you write, because it helps you with the character's "voice", but you should probably avoid targeting specific actors for the script.

    But he also said that when you get to the point where you are actually pitching the script you should have a name or two as suggestions for the main roles.

    If I have screwed up this answer, someone rescue me, please.

    As a side note, several people told me that Johnny Depp would be perfect for the lead in one of my scripts. His agent wouldn't even read my query letter. It helps to have a little juice. Let's face it, thousands of people want to break in and the agencies and prodcos can afford to be picky. No one said this was easy.

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    • #3
      If you have access to old copies of Script magazine, WC Martell wrote a neat article on how to be "vaguely specific" when writing characters, i.e. making sure they are original, yet not so defined that they exclude 99.9 percent of actors (coincidentally those who happen not to be Keanu Reeves).

      So far, with my limited experience, I too find it helpful at times to have one specific actor in mind for a particular voice, although I wouldn't force it - some of my characters insist on speaking by themselves and I wouldn't waste time trying to cast them.

      My latest screenplay got totally unstuck when I figured out that what's-his-name should play opposite my lead - I was stunned to see that character take over the story. I should probably be sending a thank you note to that actor!

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      • #4
        Oups - forgot the reference. The article is in Script vol.5, no.3

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        • #5
          Absolutely. Be vague in the actual script, but have a big bankable star in mind. If you're in a meeting, or talking to someone about it let THEM mention casting. Chances are it will be the person you envisioned or at least a recent/similar version.

          Bottom line: there are two things everyone is looking for in specs. Something they can attach a star to and/or something with a great, marketable, "fresh" hook. That's why my two drama specs are stowed away in a drawer until I emerge from the ranks of "unknown".

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          • #6
            Setting aside the advice from friends, I am currently writing a script for SPECIFIC actor/actors... I may be fashioning my own noose, but it had to be done. My only advice is "go with you gut"... if your story won't come out for anyone BUT X actor, you have to let it out, right?

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            • #7
              I agree with Heyyady. I wrote my first script with Will Smith in mind for the lead. It's nothing like he's ever done but I know he's just the right person to pull off the slightly comedic but serious role of my main character. However, I have had 0 luck in getting the script to him as was anticipated. But I'm in no ways discouraged that my script won't sell and it doesn't in anyway impune my script or make me think I have to rewrite it. It just means that someone else may have to rise to the role. Besides that's what actors do right, they become the role not the role becoming them.

              Still wearing those rose colored glasses.

              UrsulaR

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              • #8
                Re: Fashion A Screenplay For Specific Actors

                I've been spending time at the Russell Crowe and Kenneth Branagh websites and have unconsciously crafted a screenplay with both in mind. I can't see writing something with the intent to pitch to a specific actor or actress, but I'm thinking that it's a very good idea to focus on someone when writing that first draft. Since they determine what gets made, it seems practical to create a character that they would want to play. At any rate, wherever my screenplay winds up, I'm just happy that I've been able to create a much more vivid character than I would have if I hadn't gone to those websites.

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                • #9
                  Re: Fashion A Screenplay For Specific Actors

                  It's good to have some actors in mind when writing. You don't want to write a lead for a seven foot tall Korean actor. There may be a seven foot tall Korean actor, but you are really limiting yourself. One of the big things to keep in mind is age and body type. It wouldn't work (unless in a comedy) having Clint Eastwood play a teenager. I agree with keeping a specific actor in mind when writing a part. At a minimum, I use age and body type. However, don't get trapped into thinking of actor so n' so does these type of parts. Actors like different characters. Good characters. Come up with a great unique character and actors will want to play the part. You won't be begging them. They'll be begging you. Um, so the theory goes...

                  Anyway, my point is to focus on developing great characters and not on selling to a particular actor/actress. I understand that it helps to see an actor to get ideas for your writing, but looking at the average joe blow does the same thing. Hey, the average joe blow can pretty strange, hilarious, intelligent, and stupid. If you watch long enough, the average joe can amaze you with how truly entertaining he or she is.

                  Tom

                  Tom

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                  • #10
                    Tom

                    I agree, when Encino Man came out, I told all of my friends to keep an eye on Brendan, that he was going places. They all laughed. I started collecting movie memoribilia of his back then, and I am now the proud owner of quite a collection of odd and unique items from onwe of glamorland's hottest actors. (e-bay is sounding better and better!)

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