Character Actors

It’s been a slow day, saying goodbye to family and running errands. That doesn’t give a guy a lot to blog about. I’m watching old movies right now, really old movies.

I just finished Red River, and Fort Apache is coming on now. Hollywood used to maintain a group of character actors they could always count on. They generally played the same character over & over again, but I never got tired of them.

These fellows usually provided most of the charm, and elements of humor. Watching Walter Brennan gamble his false teeth away to an Indian got my mind to wandering. You always knew what you got with these guys. It could be Brennan, Slim Pickins, Dub Taylor, Chief Dan George, Mike Mazurki, or Victor McLaglen they always delivered something special.

Hollywood doesn’t do this any longer, and more’s the pity.

I try to add a bit of this to my fiction. Right or wrong, I think an ensemble cast needs a bit of character. There is a fellow named Ion in Panama who adds a bit of cheer. Roald, the dwarf, handles this job in The Cock of the South.

What’s your feeling on using characters with character? Do they bring spice to the recipe, or ruin it for you? Was Hagrid enjoyable, or did he detract from the Harry Potter books? In my mind, they make it all more realistic, and I will probably keep using them.

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25 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

25 responses to “Character Actors

  1. Roald is a good character and I loved Hagrid. Dynamic supporting “actors” are crucial to maintain interest and move the plot along.

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  2. I think you really need characters with character. They bring a charming aspect to a story that can hook a reader. Sometimes even more than the main focus. It is a shame that we don’t have many character actors any more. Though I wonder if script writers are still making parts for such people.

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    • I don’t believe they are. The film industry has changed. I agree that they bring a certain amount of charm to a story.

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      • Do you think they could survive in this day and age? I notice that a lot of people are quick to complain about an actor always playing the same role. Maybe that had a factor in the change since I think you still see them in non-Hollywood films. At least in comedies.

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      • I think that playing the same role only applied to lead actors. Those who played villains never had a problem finding work. The colorful characters always found work too. I think the world has just changed.

        I think some young leading actors could benefit from a group of veterans who made fifty movies each. Some of these guys were Academy Award winners too.

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  3. I believe characters should have character, something special that keeps readers coming back for more. Remember new doesn’t always mean better.

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    • These guys were never the lead role. They were supporting actors. This didn’t mean they had to fade into the wallpaper. Most of them were strong actors and scene stealers too. I think our supporting characters can be the same way. It all goes to the old saying, every character is the hero of his own story.

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  4. It takes all sorts in the ‘real world’, and these fantasy characters, I love ’em!

    And talking of dwarves, have you seen The Hobbit 3 yet? I saw it yesterday… fab movie, cant stop thinking about it today.

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  5. I’m a fan. I love it when TV shows do this – recurring minor characters build the world in a more realistic, funnier, or more charming way. I always love it when I can recognize the nurses, or the extras, and even get to know them a little, even if they’re not integral to the plot.

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    • Television does this well too. It’s usually different than the old movies. They rely upon recurring characters. MASH was better for all the regular side characters, even the ones who weren’t part of the camp. The blacksmith from Gunsmoke went on to become Burt Reynolds, movie star.

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  6. I love supporting characters; they bring a realism to the movie or book that I enjoy. I wanted Hagrid to be MY friend too. I think Jack Elam was a great supporting actor. In the James Garner movie Support Your Local Sheriff Elam played a drunk who became his deputy. They were great together. Pure gold!

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  7. Well, Craig, sadly, I don’t know any of who you mentioned. 😦 No, not even Harry Potter. BUT, I DO know how much I love your characters! And I especially love that when they’re waited to be used in other books, they hang out at your writing cabin and allow us to learn more about them. Or, as in the case of Lisa, they travel to other blogs we follow, and we get to learn more about them there. πŸ˜‰

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  8. Some of my favourite actors are supporting actors – think Steve Buscemi in pretty much everything πŸ™‚ Hilarious!

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  9. I think TV does a better job with character actors. In general a good series on television is way more entertaining than most movies. The Gilmore Girls (a show many of the men in my life sheepishly enjoyed) was full of great supporting roles.

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  10. The more I write a character, the more complicated they become, and I think that’s how it should be. The more prominent their role, the more evolution.

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    • I agree completely, but I was referring more to the colorful side characters. The Gabby Hayes’ of the novel universe. These aren’t the MC or the mentor role. Think more like Hagrid.

      Our main characters certainly have to evolve. Sometimes the color man dies and sparks the MC forward.

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  11. I love colorful characters. They’re the seasoning that can make a good dish, great! πŸ™‚

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