Character actor

From ArticleWorld

A character actor is a character in a film or on the stage who does not play leading roles, bur rather supporting parts. Character actors generally do not fit the typical hero/ heroine paramters for physical appearance, and often play similar roles throughout their careers. Sometimes actors who start out playing character roles moves on to top-billing in the course of their career, the way Dustin Hoffman, Jamie Foxx, Felicity Huffman, Ed Harris, and Salma Hayek have.

Roles for character actors run from secondary leads to bit parts. Character actors often fill the role of stock characters or the ethnic stereoype. A common phenomenon is when non-Americans enter the Hollywood system after achieving major success in their own countries or in non-English-language productions, and are cast as character actors rather than in lead roles, as happens with Jet Li, Chow Yun-fat, Monica Bellucci and Max von Sydow. Many times character actors have a distinctive voice or physical trait that makes them so memorable as to both add a distinctiveness to their performances, such as Sydney Greenstreet's girth, and to offer them greater opportunities in voice-over characters, such as Hank Azaria and Julie Kavner in The Simpsons.

Roles for character actors include that of sidekick, best friend (often the female lead's gay, fat, or conventionally unattractive best friend), the Asian computer expert, villain, Italian gangster, comic relief, the outlaw-hero, the Jewish therapist, the Indian doctor, the smartass or angst-ridden teenager, .

For some movie- and theatre-goers, character actors epitomize best the craft of the stage or screen. There is no pressure on a character actor to conform to industry demands for a certain level of fitness or physical attractiveness (unless the actor always plays action roles or vamp parts). Thus, the reasoning goes, she or he can devote more time and energy to developing a particular style of acting, delve deeper into the script or screenplay, take on a greater variety of parts, and take risks in his or her performance.