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Mwm

Why is Hollywood responding so strongly to actors criticisms regarding Game of Thrones predominately white cast with the big upcoming epic fantasy adaptations?

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Posted (edited)

From what I always knew of Hollywood, is that they follow a strict if its not broken then don't fix it strategy. And yet, just actors like John Boyega are bitter because the right people got the roles for The Lord of the Rings movies and Game of Thrones, Hollywood is throwing all thoughts of source material out the window for the big upcoming Wheel of Time and Middle-earth TV series on Amazon. Even with the failed Bloodmoon prequel pilot, there was shoehorning even with what would be the ancestors to the characters in Game of Thrones.

This is not a troll question, I'm just concerned they have forgone picking the right people for the part, and with these that means completing screwing up the established world-building culture norms, in the name of forced diversity just for the sake of a checklist with no good storytelling value. More so because I've seen some of the past work of the actors playing Nynaeve, Egwene, and Lan in the upcoming Wheel of Time, and I didn't think their performances were that good in the slightest.

Edited by Mwm

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Posted (edited)

I think the thinking is that there's no real evidence that most of the audience they want cares very much, and that the "right people" are simply the best actors who happen to also prevent the most popular criticism. Those who want consistency in settings or close adherence to the world-building of an adapted work are going to be put out, but they are going to be a minority of a minority. At the same time, you're seeing interest in works like those of Nnedi Okarafor and Octavia Butler being adapted, and I'm sure they'll find the right people to fill the roles for those projects if they get off the ground.

There was also the news that HBO got the rights to adapt this original comic setting, Asunda. 

Edited by Ran

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57 minutes ago, Mwm said:

I'm just concerned they have forgone picking the right people for the part, and with these that means completing screwing up the established world-building culture norms, in the name of forced diversity just for the sake of a checklist with no good storytelling value.

First of all, worst thread title ever. Second, this is what's called begging the question.

Besides, people who 'don't look right' have been cast since the dawn of time. Brunettes cast as famously blonde characters, tall characters cast as famously short ones, able-bodied actors given awards for playing disabled characters, white characters cast for almost every character whose race was not actually specified. In those cases, people were willing to suspend their disbelief. So should they here.

ps enabling under-represented audiences to see themselves in a story undoubtedly adds value to that story. Maybe not anything you value, but something other people do.

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2 minutes ago, mormont said:

tall characters cast as famously short ones

Or short actors as very tall characters (Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, I'm told... or, more saliently, Viggo Mortensen [not really short, but you get my drift!] being like 20 centimeters shorter than Aragorn).

 

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Just to point out that there is almost always a complaint about actors not looking like their literary counterparts.

People complained about a Jackman Wolverine and they complained about a Cruise Reacher. 
 

 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Just to point out that there is almost always a complaint about actors not looking like their literary counterparts.

People complained about a Jackman Wolverine and they complained about a Cruise Reacher. 
 

 

Uh, yeah...the difference being those choices were made based on acting caliber.

Edited by Mwm

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2 minutes ago, Mwm said:

Uh, yeah...the difference being those choices were made based on acting caliber.

You think?  Generally those casting decisions are made on assessment of star power, or conversely then, on how little the actor who has no star power pull with audiences will take as compensation. Or whether the producer can force the actor to commit unwanted sex acts in return for not being blackballed from the industry, or, o a whole lot of considerations that have nothing to do with skill.  In any skill and talent are the last criteria -- how they look on screen is the numero uno -- and how much they want to be paid.

 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Mwm said:

Uh, yeah, the difference being those choices were made based on acting caliber.

Cruise was chosen because he's Tom Cruise, a very popular, bankable star. There are a lot of actors who are, strictly speaking, better at acting than he is. But not a lot of actors who are as famous or able to pull in audiences as he is. (As it happens, the Rock revealed he had been in talks to play the role at one point, but he didn't have the box office pull of Cruise at the time)

To the degree studios and networks believe that there's more profit to be made by casting in ways that aren't necessarily in accord with the work they are adapting, that's what's going to drive them first and foremost. 

Same thing happened with Cruise and Interview with the Vampire, where Anne Rice and fans complained that Cruise was all wrong for Lestat. But he won them over.

Edited by Ran

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4 minutes ago, Mwm said:

Uh, yeah...the difference being those choices were made based on acting caliber.

Sure, it was more a point to Mormont that these casting choices are not without conflict. 
 

My general opinion is that if you really want to cast an actor that is visibly very different to the character they are playing then you’d better have a good reason. I’ve personally always hankered for a tiny Logan but I recognise Jackman is good in the role. Jack Reacher movies needed Tom Cruise to sell themselves.

 

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9 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Just to point out that there is almost always a complaint about actors not looking like their literary counterparts.

People complained about a Jackman Wolverine and they complained about a Cruise Reacher. 
 

 

If they'd swapped those two around it would have made more sense.

I'm not sure whether tall/short people felt like their world was being attacked when short/tall people were cast in the way (presumably) white people get upset when non-white people get parts.

Unless the colour of a character's skin is fundamental to their story, i really don't care - especially in fantasy settings. But if racism exists in a fantasy setting and certain races are known to be recognizable on sight then at the very least be consistent. But elves, dwarves and orcs are distinguishable irrespective of whether they have multiple colours.

Idris Elba was one of the best things about dark tower (a low bar) but i still wonder how it would have worked once Susannah/Odetta appeared. That said her character was always one of the more uncomfortable aspects of the book and it would probably have been wise to drop the racism entirely and still keep her as a nasty/bitter character (in book 2 at least)

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I think fantasy is one area where you can basically go and do what you want with casting quite often, there really shouldn't be too many rules to say everyone is white for instance. You could say that LOTR is a bit different because it is specifically a European tale. However changing the race of a dwarf is far less noticeable than if the dwarf suddenly had a New York accent. 

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1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

I think fantasy is one area where you can basically go and do what you want with casting quite often, there really shouldn't be too many rules to say everyone is white for instance. You could say that LOTR is a bit different because it is specifically a European tale. However changing the race of a dwarf is far less noticeable than if the dwarf suddenly had a New York accent. 

That's a funny point how fantasy feels as if it should always be in some strict English, English. Even if it's based on polish fantasy!

 

 

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15 minutes ago, red snow said:

That's a funny point how fantasy feels as if it should always be in some strict English, English. Even if it's based on polish fantasy!

 

 

It’s not just fantasy, it’s also most historical settings even non English ones too

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12 hours ago, Ran said:

Cruise was chosen because he's Tom Cruise, a very popular, bankable star. There are a lot of actors who are, strictly speaking, better at acting than he is. But not a lot of actors who are as famous or able to pull in audiences as he is. (As it happens, the Rock revealed he had been in talks to play the role at one point, but he didn't have the box office pull of Cruise at the time)

I am one who thought Cruise shouldn't have been cast as Reacher. Reacher in his very essence is supposed to be a massive man whose mere presence is intimidating, Cruise is not that. But, Cruise has a charisma and box office draw that is hard to match and so he was cast.

As to the race of characters, unless you have a case of a white actress being cast as Harriet Tubman, where the race of the character is critical to the role, then any race should be fine, let the acting win out. 

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Some effort should be made to cast people who at least look like their characters, specifically in the case of comic book movies. Not doing so is a bit of an insult to fans.

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10 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Some effort should be made to cast people who at least look like their characters, specifically in the case of comic book movies. Not doing so is a bit of an insult to fans.

And there's consistency of world-building to consider in fantasy. If a creator spends time delineating things like ethnic groups and cultural spread, it's not much different.

But comic book fans and fantasy literature fans are a minority of TV show/film viewers, and some of those have only loose interest in these things, so it's a minority of a minority again. There's unsurprisingly limited profit motive to act in accordance to what they want.

 

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6 minutes ago, Ran said:

And there's consistency of world-building to consider in fantasy. If a creator spends time delineating things like ethnic groups and cultural spread, it's not much different.

But comic book fans and fantasy literature fans are a minority of TV show/film viewers, and some of those have only loose interest in these things, so it's a minority of a minority again. There's unsurprisingly limited profit motive to act in accordance to what they want.

 

I think if you start off on the wrong foot by pissing off the core fan base you might struggle when it comes to building up buzz about a movie in the right way. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Ran said:

Or short actors as very tall characters (Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, I'm told... or, more saliently, Viggo Mortensen [not really short, but you get my drift!] being like 20 centimeters shorter than Aragorn).

 

The list of Peter Jackson's sins is long indeed, but the Noldor were almost ridiculously tall, with the other elves only a bit less so.  He can be given a pass for casting Mortensen as Aragorn, and Blanchett as Galadrial, Bloom as Legolas etc.

Less so today than 50 years ago as far as ethnicity of availabile actors go, but Hollywood does have a glut of mostly hairless mammalian bipeds, which affects who gets cast in sci-fi flicks for sure.

I have no idea what specific criticism the OP is referring to, having neither read WoT or being familiar by name at least with any of the actors associated with it above.  As for John Boyega, I quite liked Finn in TFA, and he himself was fine the TLJ, though over all that movie was a total mess.  So I'm going to go with "make a quality production, and if Heimdall is black WGAF"?

On the other hand, if you make the Hillary Clinton equivalent of a movie, and expect people to revere it just because it has representation of a specific subgroup, don't be surprised if not everyone lines up for it when there are legitimate issues with it.

Edited by mcbigski

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Posted (edited)
On 3/18/2020 at 9:24 AM, Heartofice said:

I think fantasy is one area where you can basically go and do what you want with casting quite often, there really shouldn't be too many rules to say everyone is white for instance. You could say that LOTR is a bit different because it is specifically a European tale. However changing the race of a dwarf is far less noticeable than if the dwarf suddenly had a New York accent. 

Tolkien, by his own words, based the look of Orcs on the "the degraded and repulsive version of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol types'. Ouch. So it's not a strictly European tale, or it is but in a European-centric (of that time) sort of way...and it can only be a good thing to make a non-racist version.

 

(Before anyone attacks me, I'm not accusing Tolkien of being racist, that is, no more than most people of his time, but he was definitely using a racist concept there.)

 

As for accents - why shouldn't a dwarf have a New York accent? How is an RP British accent or Scottish accent or whatever more "accurate" for a fantasy creature in a fantasy world?

If your argument is that it's supposed to be a medieval world - none of the modern accents existed in Middle Ages. RP is the most different one from how people used to talk in that time.

 

ETA: However. if you saying that most Roma are part white, that's not true. The fact they've been in Europe since the Middle Ages doesn't change the fact that most white European people are extremely racist towards them and that most Roma are poor, treated as second class citizens and that the white majority in most countries don't want anything to do with them.

So if your fantasy dwarf isn't speaking actual Middle English, he may as well have a New York accent.

 

Edited by Annara Snow

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5 hours ago, Heartofice said:

It’s not just fantasy, it’s also most historical settings even non English ones too

You mean, pseudo-historical.

There are no actual historical places in LOTR, ASOIAF or The Witcher.

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