In the Movies, Looks Matter

When it comes to acting in films, looks matter. There are certain roles reserved for the “beautiful people”. There are other roles, often just as meaty and important, that require an off-center look.

Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy know their type. They play the big girl roles. And they do well. That’s when filmmaking works. But you wouldn’t buy either one of them playing the female love interest in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

I recently sat down to watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the seemingly final chapter in the nine-part Star Wars “Skywalker Saga” film series.

After five attempts to watch it, I finally made it through the film without falling asleep. The story itself wasn’t as bad as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which stands out as the worst of all of the Star Wars films. There were even some moments that were quite good.

My biggest problem with the “sequel trilogy” is Adam Driver. Driver plays Ben Solo, son of Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo.

Carrie Fisher was a beautiful woman. There is not a heterosexual boy who did not fantasize about Leia in her slave bikini in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Harrison Ford, who played Solo, has long been regarded as a handsome leading man. Yet Adam Driver may well be the least attractive leading man to ever be featured in a major motion picture.

There is no genetic chance that two people as good looking as Leia and Han could have produced Adam Driver – someone of less than stellar genetics.

Driver may well be a phenomenal person. I’ve never met him and know little about him. But in terms of appearance, his repulsivity is a burden on the eyes. And that ruins the film.

This is a first for Star Wars. Typically, the Star Wars franchise has cast handsome leading men. Mark Hamill = handsome. Harrison Ford = handsome. Billy Dee Williams = handsome. Liam Neeson = handsome. Hayden Christensen = handsome. Ewan McGregor = handsome. Adam Driver = not handsome.

I’m not saying that Adam Driver doesn’t deserve all the rights and liberties owed any citizen of the earth. I’m just saying that his features are so awkwardly assembled, I have a hard time just watching his films.

The entertainment industry is the area where looks matter. Had Adam Driver interviewed for a job at Amazon and been told he is unqualified because he is not attractive, I would be the first one championing his cause to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to sue for equal rights.

However, we are not talking about a 9-5 administrative job. We are talking about playing a character in a movie and in that instance the director has the right to choose an actor who is easy on the eyes if the role calls for it. Under this umbrella, director JJ Abrams failed miserably when he cast Driver. Driver ruins all three of the “Age of Resistance” films because he is so alarmingly unattractive.

This doesn’t mean that Adam Driver shouldn’t have a film career. There are plenty of roles for a man like Driver –  his performances in Marriage Story and BlacKkKlansman were very good even though his looks are still jarring.  Not to be mean, but The Frankenstein Monster, The Missing Link, or Quasimodo would be right up Driver’s alley.

According to an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air in 2015, Driver can’t stand to see himself on film. I understand why. Truth be told, I can’t stand to see him on film either.

Driver is not the only one unsuited for handsome leading man roles. I am still in the process of coming to grips with the change of appearance that has happened to me due to hair loss. After struggling with hair loss for a few years, I finally decided that I would rather be bald than balding. That limits the roles I can believably play. Unless they hire a genius wig maker, I won’t be playing Sampson anytime soon.

I’m not bitter about it. That’s the reality of the entertainment industry. Looks matter. And, an actor with the wrong look can ruin a film, television show, or evening at the theatre.

Thankfully there are still plenty of roles that I can play with a bald head. Like it or not, that’s my look. And I accept that. Hopefully I’ll find solace in playing Daddy Warbucks in Annie and The King of Siam in The King & I.  As a young leading man with a full head of hair, I appeared in over 20 productions of West Side Story. Maybe I have 20 productions of The King & I in my future.

Peace . Love. Trust.

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