We have all had this experience: we’re watching a new television show full of new actors we have never seen before, which really helps us feel immersed in the fiction of the show.
But just as it gets interesting, up pops an actor we’ve all seen before, blowing the illusion and maybe even ruining the show.
Perhaps that is a bit of an overreaction, but whether we’ll admit it or not, those actors that appear in a lot of movies and television shows can detract from the experience.
The latest example of this phenomenon is NBC’s new show “Revolution.”
In case you missed the premiere, here’s a quick recap: girl with bow and arrows and unlikely sidekicks leaves comfortable home to go on a quest through hostile terrain in a post-apocalyptic United States.
Yes, this show is so much like “The Hunger Games” that I started calling the main character Katniss halfway through.
But for all the show’s relative unoriginality, it is genuinely well written, and I enjoyed the premiere.
Until, that is, Katniss reached her destination: Chicago, home of her long-lost uncle.
The uncle turns out to be a seemingly mild-mannered bartender who is quick with a knife.
Pretty cool, right? Until I realized that the actor portraying the bartender, also known as Katniss’ mentor, (Haymitch, anyone?) was none other than Billy Burke, whose previous work includes being Bella Swan’s father, Sheriff Charlie Swann, in “Twilight.”
My perception of the show as a drama instantly disappeared.
It was now a comedy, starring the Sheriff.
Taken as an isolated incident, this was not a bad casting decision.
The sheriff had the acting chops to pull off the role, plus a certain edgy quality I could make out if I didn’t look too closely. Of course, if I did look, I just saw Stephanie Meyer’s personal foil for her daddy issues.
Whenever he lectured Katniss about the dangers of the post-apocalyptic militia (the principal antagonists thus far), I half-expected him to add: “And you’re not allowed to see that Edward boy anymore, either!”
Strangely, my skewed perception of the sheriff actually enhanced my viewing experience — which is helpful, since the climactic scene so unabashedly leapt from straightlaced drama into pure fantasyland.
The sheriff, looking every bit of a middle-aged man who probably drinks a bit, suddenly develops insane hand-to-hand combat skills, taking on at least a dozen armed militiamen and emerging with a single solitary cut on his back.
Yes, the man who we have all seen have a hard time banishing Kristen Stewart to her room picks up a katana and drops future soldiers with it.
There is no way a show could be written to be that entertaining on purpose.
An actor’s previous roles will certainly follow him for the rest of his career.
And while typecasting can be devastating to an actor’s career, I cannot say I disagree with it, since a typecast choice in “Revolution” could have at least salvaged the tone of the show.
Truly motivated thespians find opportunities to strut their stuff in a variety of roles, but for every Robert DeNiro there are a lot of Joe Pescis: actors whose first role fit a specific caricature and, therefore, are forever cast in productions where that caricature has been written in.
One actor whose career has taken typecasting to epic proportions is the English actor Christopher Lee.
Lee has been doing movies for a long time, but he always seems to end up the villain, having played both Saruman in the “Lord of the Ring”s films and Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” prequels.
Even as a little kid watching “Attack of the Clones,” I knew why Lee had been cast: Francisco Scaramanga.
That is the name of the evil mastermind James Bond squares off against in “The Man with the Golden Gun,” which debuted in 1974.
Lee, naturally, played Scaramanga, and has been largely serving as the bad guy du jour ever since. What I’m getting at here is that typecasting is not a bad thing.
If Sir Christopher Lee — because every famous British person is knighted nowadays — had stopped being a villain post-Golden Gun, we would never have been able to enjoy his excellent performances as Saruman.
And if the producers of “Revolution” had chosen an actor who would call to mind subconscious feelings of being tough, rather than of sparkly vampires, the show would have been entertaining for all the right reasons, instead of all the wrong ones.
Garrett Cimina is a freshman majoring in finance and is The Daily Collegian’s Monday columnist. Email him at email@example.com.