Movie Stars: Grant, Cary’s Screen Image–Casting and Typecasting

Casting actors in parts that are similar to their Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated roles might have a negative effect on the actor’s career–in the short run and in the long run.  

Actors often complain that they tend to receive scores of roles that are identical or similar to their winning role, and that it is impossible for them to break away from the mold, which is often created or reinforced by the Oscar itself.

Most actors are aware of their potential range and of audiences’ expectations of them in terms of screen roles. “When I appear on the screen,” Cary Grant once said, “I’m playing myself,” though he believed that “it’s harder to play yourself.” Grant attributed his success to his conformity to audiences’ expectations. Hence, his philosophy was: “Adopt the true image of yourself, acquire technique to project it, and the public will give you its allegiance.”

Indeed, it’s possible to describe Cary Grant’s or John Wayne’s typical screen persona due to their largely coherent and consistent choice of screen roles.

Most actors also understand the different responsibilities and rewards that are involved in being actors versus being movie stars. The critic John Russell Taylor once described “the penalty” of being a star as follows: “an actor is paid to do, a star is paid to be.”