Are there more than 3 actors? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Where do you know these guys from?

It’s a trick question, because the answer is: EVERYWHERE. They’ve appeared in every show or movie created in the last 20 years. Life itself doesn’t exist without them, nor should it.

But that’s exactly the problem with Hollywood. The overarching goal of every director is t0 make the audience feel something, to transport them somewhere, yet by recycling the same actors over and over I don’t know who the hell I’m watching anymore. All I know is that I’m definitely watching something, and not part of it.

When I’m watching David Constabile (middle photo) tiptoe around Mel in Flight of the Conchords I’m also watching hipster-cum-chemist-cum-corpse Gale Boetticher in Breaking Bad and also watching the conservative Managing Editor of the Baltimore Sun Thomas Klebanow being conservative in The Wire. At the same time. Sure he’s a great actor, but like it or not actors always bring baggage from prior roles which subconsciously prevents us from fully immersing ourselves in the story.

Don’t get me wrong, you know what you’re going to get when you cast a reputable actor, and just like that Hainanese Chicken Rice at your favourite Malaysian place, you know it’s going to be good. Because it’s always good. But it’s like a constant 84%. You won’t amaze anyone. But if you want to create a 95% (or a 50%) thing I’d suggest passing on these familiar faces in favour of relative unknowns. Most actors are good actors, that’s why they’re actors…

VR is especially interesting to filmmakers because it decreases the psychological distance between the experiencer and the experience. You may think you get absorbed in tv shows at the moment, but trust me, you don’t know absorption. You may not notice it but when you’re watching tv your brain is constantly bombarded with micro-reminders that what you’re watching is not real and you’re not actually there, and seeing recognisable actors is but one example. Others include:

  • phone interruptions (including just being in the presence of your phone)
  • people around you eating and drinking and moving like selfish jerks
  • even just having a screen and a border—it’s dumb but when your wall and tv table and picture frames are in your field of vision you’re constantly micro-aware (may or may not be a real thing) of the delineation between the show and your reality.
  • dubbing
  • buffering (obvs)
  • watching a movie on the life of Saddam Hussein where everyone in Iraq speaks English for some reason

Who knows what role actors play as the world crawls towards VR and AR, I have a feeling voice actors will prosper as audio dominates in the short-medium term, first through Alexa-ish devices and podcast proliferation and then further as animated VR/AR offerings pave the way for more realistic VR experiences. Maybe actors with a unique selling proposition (a specific look/charisma/voice/body/style) will become even more valuable because people get to interact with them and, seeing as these are the same characteristics that make an actor successful in any age, it feels like the best will keep commanding high prices (maybe higher ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). Maybe actors will be able to license their likeness — exploiting the very humanness or je ne sais quoi -ness that makes them appealing — for re-creation in VR environments?

As Jeff Bezos says, we need to build around the things that won’t change in the future, and one thing we know won’t change is that consumers will always demand better experiences. Viewers will become experiencers. But seeing this guy everywhere will certainly not help.

I’m glad you’ve landed some decent roles but goddamn.
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