The casting bias in Hollywood

Emma Costigan

As in any career path, friendships form that span a lifetime, and the film industry is no exception. Undeniably, the better a working relationship is, the more likely a successful collaboration.

Perhaps it is a solid friendship that draws famous pairings to continuously work on projects together. Or possibly, whenever they join forces, the box office booms.

Regardless, famous alliances within the film industry beg the question, are characters written to fit a specific actor, or do these actors authentically suit the role? Three such examples are that of Tim Burton, Happy Madison Productions, and Quentin Tarantino.

Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter’s 13 yearlong marriage saw them create several major projects together. Bonham Carter was cast in a total of seven of Burton’s major films, such as “Alice in Wonderland”, “Dark Shadows”, and “Corpse Bride”. Although Burton favourited his ex-wife for his films, his characters aren’t warped to suit her acting abilities.

Burton’s friendship with Johnny Depp stems even further back, to their 1990 collaboration “Edward Scissorhands”. Principally, Depp plays the majority of his characters with a distinctive mysterious flare, and it is no surprise that each of Depp’s roles in nine of Burton’s feature-length films matches his unique acting style.

In 1999, Adam Sandler founded Happy Madison Productions. Among the actors that Sandler repeatedly casts are Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider, or his “Grown Ups” franchise crew.

First appearing in “50 First Dates” together in 2004, Sandler and James have become great friends, with James starring in 12 films produced by Happy Madison.

Similarly to Depp, James has developed a specific, unique type of character that suits him. These characters typically are lovable, fun people with an air of comedy to them.

It’s rather undeniable that Sandler holds bias when it comes to the actors he chooses to cast. It is also a fair observation to make that Sandler’s films warp their roles to fit his friends’ acting styles.

Uma Thurman and Christoph Waltz are just two of the numerous actors that recur throughout Quentin Tarantino films. However, no one has appeared in more of his films than Samuel L. Jackson.

His four-decade-long career has seen him play upwards of 100 roles, which are usually serious, badass characters similar to his role as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tarantino’s films are no exception to this.

Appearing in films like “Pulp Fiction”, and “The Hateful Eight”, Jackson has graced our screens repeatedly with the type of character we know and love from him. Yet again, Tarantino serves as an example of writing the character to fit the actor.

Undoubtedly, there is a casting bias looming throughout Hollywood. While it makes for great on-screen chemistry, and cinematic gold – you can’t help but feel sorry for those that don’t have powerful friends in high places.

Nonetheless, it is this chemistry that makes us hope that behind the scenes is similar to a real-life “Grown Ups”.

Emma Costigan

Image Credit: