I bet that you started reading this entry expecting to find some quite interesting technical discussion about C or C++ types and casts. Sorry, this is actually a vague, mostly useless and almost certainly boring post about another kind of typecasting .
This post stemmed from a discussion last night with a friend of mine, about the almost non-existent reuse of good actors for TV series (if you couldn’t tell, I’m quite a TV series kind of guy, rather than movie guy at least).
There are certainly a lot of good actors that worked on TV series in the past years, who hasn’t appeared since their respective series completed.
Star Trek is one of the gold mines of typecasting; the late DeForest Kelley and James Doohan never really overcame their typecast as “Bones” McCoy and Scotty; Leonard Nimoy come to the point to title his autobiographies I am not Spock and I am Spock. Patrick Stewart is a bit more lucky, as he’s now identified with Xavier from the X-Men movies (although I also remember him for the minimal part in Robin Hood: Men in Tights .. what I can say, I’m a Brooks fan). Two exception certainly are William Shatner and Rene Auberjonois, both starring in Boston Legal (although the author seems to either be a Star Trek fan, or is using the same exact cast agency, as you can also find the actors who interpreted Quark, Neelix and Seven of Nine as guest stars).
And more recent series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Friends have the same problem too. Although Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and Michelle Trachtenberg had their own roles in many different movies and TV series after BtVS finished, they’ll probably remain for a lot of people just Buffy, Willow and Dawn. And they don’t seem to appear as regulars in any series for now. Similar fate for James Marsters (who I admit I haven’t seen in any other role yet). Jennifer Aniston got enough roles not to “just” be Rachel Green from Friends but still doesn’t appear regular in any series.
On the other hand, there are a few actors who got at least two main roles in two different series, this is the case of Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver from the eponymous series and Jack O’Neill from Stargate SG-1), and Michael Weatherly (Eyes Only in Dark Angel and DiNozzo in NCIS), as well as Eliza Dushku who interpreted Faith in the above-mentioned BtVS and had the main role in Tru Calling (which was cancelled). These last two might have been somehow “lucky” that their show was cancelled, as they avoided the typecast trap. Or we might be the lucky ones (see later on this post).
In Boston Legal, beside James T. Kirk and Odo, there also is Candice Bergen, who portrayed Murphy Brown. That series is a nice way to show that actors will eventually come out of their typecast, if they live long enough: people will forget about them (how many people nowadays actually know who Candice Bergen is? I had to look it up, as I probably just seen her show zapping when I was a kid), and with a new generation they can take a new role.
But why do i care about this? There’s no actual reason, just I was wondering why couldn’t I see more often the protagonists of TV series I liked in the near past, and started thinking how many of them were stuck in typecasting. I feel a bit sorry for them, because often they have quite a lot of skill, but are left unused after a single role (that might be long enough). Although this might not be a great loss for them (they get to do other roles, too, and they certainly don’t end up on a street), it’s a loss for the viewers like me who would like to see them more often.
On the other hand, this is a total opposite to the Italian way of doing TV series: here the same actors are reused over and over and over, to the point you can’t really understand them well enough, as they are quite mixed one with the other. People like Marco Columbro, Elena Sofia Ricci, Gastone Moschin and so on, while good actors, ends up being so omnipresent that you just can’t get to like them after a while, even in the roles of the good ones. Sometimes, they are even seen on two different series at the same time. And it’s not a good thing.
Okay so sorry for this boring reflection, I hope you won’t mind its presence 🙂