August 11, 2012

Acting + Character Longevity

Today, I was just doing a random search on YouTube - -as one does on a lazy Saturday -- and came across a video that showed "morphing" sequences from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series that was popular back when I was in middle school.  (It wasn't the video above -- but this is still enough to give you the idea.)  Oddly enough, there was one particular comment on that video that had given me some pause for reflection as a performer.

The comment had referred to the actor Jason David Frank, who had portrayed the character Tommy on the Power Rangers series through several incarnations.  The comment had essentially posed the following question:  how is it possible for an actor to do the same gig for so long?

And here is my answer/musing about it.  To be honest, that is something that a lot of actors dream about -- if for no other reason than it provides them with a steady paycheck, hehe.  But all joking aside, I, as an amateur actress, have grown quite fond of some of the characters I have played, and wish that I could still be playing them.  As an actor, one often gets fond of being "in a character's skin", so to speak ... especially once one has spent so much time trying to get into a character's skin.

Although I must admit that character longevity seems to happen more often on stage than it does in movies or on TV -- and it's something that stage actors covet.  Take, for example, the Russian actor Yul Brynner.  He played the role of The King of Siam in The King and I more than 4,500 times on stage.  (Can you imagine that?)  This does not include playing the role in the movie version in 1956 (seen below).  He became so immersed in/attached to this role that, after shaving his head in order to take the role, he adopted the look as his own, and kept the shaven head for the rest of his life.

One might also consider Michael Crawford, who originated the role of The Phantom on stage in The Phantom of the Opera.  He performed the role on stage nearly 2,000 times.  (And this role surely involved quite a bit of time sitting in the makeup chair, in order to add the facial deformities!)  According to Michael's Wikipedia article, he admits to having somewhat of an emotional attachment to the role, and being broken up at finally leaving it.

But what do my fellow actors out there think?  Would you want to stick with a gig for that long?  Have you ever been so fond of a role that you weren't ready to give it up at closing?

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