WITH the possible exception of Paul Giamatti, Hollywood actors don’t look like you and me. They have a special beauty that apparently blesses them with the ability to read lines in a more convincing manner.

But every once in a while, a script comes along and poses a problem: the main character is someone who is — the horror — average looking! There are probably thousands of beauty-challenged yet talented actors out there who would be perfect for these Plain Jane or Everyman roles, but who needs those losers? Especially when Russell Crowe is willing to pack on the pounds or Nicole Kidman is willing to put on a fake nose.

Only in Hollywood would this guy get hired to play this guy:

Jared Leto put on 65 or so pounds and some ’80s-rific glasses to portray John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, in the new-to-DVD “Chapter 27.” So how come he looks more like Elton John? And you mean to tell me there weren’t any average-looking actors in all of America who could nail the role without having to gorge on hamburgers and Häagen-Dazs for three months? The gimmick didn’t work, either — all the publicity of Leto’s physical (and unhealthy) transformation couldn’t turn “Chapter 27” into a hit.

Another Beautiful Person, Charlize Theron, got to play another ugly killer, in “Monster” (I think it took the folks at Industrial Light & Magic and a team of SFX experts to make her look like someone you might see while walking down the street) and then went on to play a mine worker in “North Country.” A mine worker? I have the feeling there aren’t too many people who look like Charlize Theron toiling below the Earth’s surface.

The Beautiful People love these roles the same way they love to play retarded or physically disabled characters — to them, plain looks are just another handicap, and these roles are another way to prove they are “serious” actors and not just pretty faces. And Oscar voters usually fall for it.

I’m tired of these glamorous actors who want to “stretch,” to slum it as average-looking people. I especially hated it when critics said Kidman’s performance in “The Hours” was brave because, to portray Virginia Woolf, she made herself look plain. How is it daring for a gorgeous actress to look like an average person for two hours? All she did was look like the majority of the people in the movie theater.

So why can’t Hollywood be brave and hire more average-looking actors? You know the industry is all fucked up when this is their idea of an “Ugly Betty”:

Here’s another rare exception to the rule: Remember all the hubbub when “character actress” (translation: she’s not pretty) Kathy Bates first caught our attention in “Misery” almost 20 years ago? She was playing an ugly character, a homicidal maniac in fact, but she didn’t have to put on 60 pounds or a prosthetic nose for the part. She wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes in real life, yet somehow, despite the curse of not being born beautiful, she got into acting and was good at it. Now that’s brave.

There are probably tens of thousands of other struggling Kathy Bateses out there — great actors held back by their average looks, actors who could easily pass for coal miners or crazed fans or everyday people just like us. Actors who would be perfect in these roles if someone would give them a chance. Now that would be a stretch.


3 Responses to “PLAYIN’ PLAIN”

  1. 45vinyljunkie Says:

    If you have just average looks but still want to be in motion pictures, try porn. It worked for Annie Sprinkle and Ron Jeremy.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Real acting is for theater not Hollywood

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