I know this site is mainly focused on the film director being the main creative force behind a movie but an interesting concept (i think) is the actor as the creative force. Obviously this is true for a actor/director but I think in a few rare instances the actor overshadows the director and tweeks his character so much that the film takes on his vision. James Cagney would be, in my opinion, a perfect example of this. Films were made specificly for his screen persona and so not to be stuck being the same gangster onscreen he would create little touches to make the movies uniqe. He’d be given by Warner Bros essentially the same character but would make each one, through ad libbing and different gestures etc, a completly new monster.
Jack nicholson too is a good example. I know of at least 3 movies that are elevated to classic just by his performance alone: five easy pieces, last detail, and cuckoos nest.
Dont know if anyone will be into this thread but…oh well
Well, i’ve just made this point in the thread about auteur theory started by Rich Uncle Skeleton; she may not be the “auteur”, hers is not the overall creative vision, but Louise Brooks for me makes Pandora’s Box.
Kenji: Excellent choice! I watched “The Show Off” last week, and while Ford Sterling set the pace and the main character, whenever Louise Brooks as a neighbor was on the screen the film changed direction and became hers alone.
The Marx Brothers; the director just pointed the camera at the brothers and shot what he saw, imagining anyone trying to tame Groucho on set reminds me of a guy desperately trying to hold on to wet soap.
I must admit this is one of the most interesting topics brought to my attention since I joined The Auteurs a couple of weeks ago. I had never thought of it but totally buy into the concept of actor as auteur in certain cases, although perhaps moreso under studio systems where formula and brand recognition was key. In the other thread I heard this theory mentioned I believe Fred Astaire was an example given that I would perfectly agree with. Thinking of others I can only seem to come up with humorously negative examples of actors who seem to drag down a film and make it appear formulaic because of their presence, e.g. Adam Sandler, Arnold Schwarzenegger (some exceptions of course), but could actor auteurs today not simply be a result of ‘negative’ typecasting (as opposed to early Hollywood where many actors thrived on such a tag)? Most of the greatest actors out there just now seem to go to any lengths to avoid such identification. Any thoughts?
Actors nowadays def take their craft very seriously to the point of ridiculousness some times. hence the Robert Downey character in Tropic Thunder. Actors look for roles to sink their teeth in and I think since the rise of method acting, directors are drawn to actors who will put as much thought and focus in their film as they do. So you get strong relationships like Scorsese and Deniro who could both be credited as auteurs of Raging Bull since Deniro pushed for it initially before Scorsese was even interested. P.T. Anderson had Day-Lewis in mind for There will be Blood. Nowadays important auteurs work hand in hand with the best actors usually to the mutual benefit of both.
When it comes to Hollywood types like action stars who are put in movies made for them, I think the only one who truly breaks out is Bruce Willis my fav action star.
According to Scorsese and Schrader, Taxi Driver was Schrader’s movie, Raging Bull was Deniro’s and Last Temptation was Scorsese’s.
I guess what modern actors want to be identified with today is Great performances. They’ll go to great lengths to transform themselves with each successive role. I think maybe Brando in Godfather or Deniro in Raging Bull started this trend of seeing who could dedicate themselves the most to a role where now you’ve got actors winning oscars for playing gay as if that was the ultimate sacrifice for your craft. I dont know, just thoughts
Take On The Waterfront for example – it was Brando’s performance that made this film a classic, but the ultimate credit of the film’s success should go to Kazan. Kazan didn’t say hey – I know this actor and he’s pretty good, I think I’ll select a script that will be tailor made to his talents and make a movie. Kazan stated that others such as Frank Sinatra were ready to accept the part, but it was Kazan’s vision of what he wanted the film to be like that helped him choose Brando. So in this case Kazan was the auteur. After watching a great performance by an actor who dominates the film one might first be willing to give all the credit to the actor. Is that fair? Many directors have creative collaborations with actors, as well as allowing the actors to improvise dialogue, but does that mean that actor becomes the auteur? My personal opinion is no. There are many actors who motivate the director’s vision, but I think there are very few instances where the film is the actor’s vision.
True True. I guess the best examples of this are from Classic Hollywood when the director (for the most part) was window dressing.
Cagney is, to me, the best example of actor as auteur
Bringing this back.
What are everyones thoughts? Arguments can be made for Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Adam Sandler etc.
Interesting notion, I think we have to know exactly what the director’s vision was before judging whether or not the actor really deviated from it.
mmmm. ….If we think in terms of impression vs expression, it becomes more obvious that acting takes place within a structured space, even if the impression is that the space was spontaneously created by the actor. On The Waterfront is good example. Although a page out of Elia Kazan’s life, it was written by Budd Schulberg – Brando did his part within that structuring.
Film is the most co-operative art going. Any other piece of art (at least that I can think of) can be done alone. Film, in general, cannot (I know you could easily sit a camera in front of yourself and film, but we are talking about an un-noticeable amount of films done like this).
I am undecided, but I feel you could say either EVERY person involved in making a film is co-auteur. Or, that NOBODY is an auteur, because it is such a co-operative piece of work.
I am more inclined to believe that everyone is an auteur, to some extent.
For example (please forgive me for using such broad examples here, but it is purely to make a point), you could have Marvel Studios making a film, directed by Malick, written by Charlie Kaufmann, acted in by Will Smith, cinematography by Roger Deakins and music done by Alexandre Desplat. Each and everyone of those involved have such a distinctive style that there is no way their input would go un-noticed. Each of those people make distinctive work that normally meet certain themes or styles throughout, that I would refuse to say that only one of them, in that example, is the only auteur.
I know this topic is about the actor as an auteur, but who could be said to be the auteur in Adaptation? Kaufman? Spike Jonze?
Mission Impossible 4? Is it Brad Bird or Tom Cruise?
Taxi Driver? Scorsese or De Niro?
I think each of these films would be completely different if either person was not involved.
Anyway, im spouting, feel free to rip this to shreds!
Arguments can be made for Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Adam Sandler etc.
If you’re willing, I wouldn’t mind hearing some arguments for these actors. I haven’t seen a lot of Sandler’s films, but he seems like a compelling pick for some reason. What about someone like Jack Black?
And here’s another question: what would make an actor an auteur?
I’m not sure what you mean by this. If the actor brings a consistent persona or his/her character deals with similar concerns/issues, from film to film, is knowing the director’s
(or any of the other filmmakers’) vision really crucial?
mmmm. ….If we think in terms of impression vs expression, it becomes more obvious that acting takes place within a structured space, even if the impression is that the space was spontaneously created by the actor.
So, are you saying that we can’t (or shouldn’t) really think of the actor as an auteur?
But does the definition of auteur have to be so all or nothing? What I mean is, if a filmmaker’s vision/personality is the one that dominates the film—if he/she has the final say over the decisions in the film—wouldn’t calling this individual the auteur be meaningful, even if other filmmakers have an important role to play in the film?
For example (please forgive me for using such broad examples here, but it is purely to make a point), you could have Marvel Studios making a film, directed by Malick, written by Charlie Kaufmann, acted in by Will Smith, cinematography by Roger Deakins and music done by Alexandre Desplat.
Sounds like a mess (but a mess I wouldn’t mind seeing ;). A couple of comments:
1. If one of the filmmakers seemed to really dominate the film, to the point, where we recognize the film as belonging to that filmmaker, then I tend to think that filmmaker is the auteur;
2. If one filmmaker doesn’t dominate the film, then I tend to think that we either say it’s not a film made by an auteur or multiple auteurs made the film. (That last part sounds weird to me…are there are examples of films that we think of as being made by multiple auteurs?)
He worked with multiple director-auteurs but he had enough of his own style to be an actor-auteur on even big projects like Le Samourai.
Jazz, I just think that if we call someone a filmmaker like you are, then anyone could be called that, from director, to special effects team, to producer, to set design. They all make the film. All that is required is someone to study these roles like has been done with a director, to pick up certain themes that a certain set designer uses, for example. What you say about someone having the final say is a good point, but then surely this would make a lot of studios the auteur, as they often hire, fire and cut the film. But, even in that scenario, would you say that the director has a greater say on the final outcome of the film, or is s/he purely a tool for the studio? I think a good example of this may be the up-coming ‘Antman’ by Edgar Wright. The studio itself have an extremely unique set of films, but Wright is such a strong visual voice, that who dominates?
Who do you think is the auteur of the last three Malick films? Malick or Lubezski? Because in my opinion, they both seamlessly work together to create an equally distinctive experience. I really feel they both dominate. All three would be completely different without Lubezski.
In regard to the last part of previous post, those are just some examples similar to the one above, where I feel they both could be considered auteurs of the film, as both have such a massive role to play in the making of the film.
Judicial Joe said, … but he had enough of his own style to be an actor-auteur…
My feeling is that being an actor-auteur is more than just having a personal style—that style would have to dominate the movie, to the point where we think of use actor’s name to describe the film—e.g., “a Delon film.” If that sounds odd or inappropriate, than can we call such an actor an auteur?
To me it feels appropriate, but then I am a bit of a fanboy regarding Alain D.
Jazz, I just think that if we call someone a filmmaker like you are, then anyone could be called that, from director, to special effects team, to producer, to set design. They all make the film. All that is required is someone to study these roles like has been done with a director, to pick up certain themes that a certain set designer uses, for example.
For me, it’s not just style, but the fact that their style seems to dominate the film.
What you say about someone having the final say is a good point, but then surely this would make a lot of studios the auteur, as they often hire, fire and cut the film.
To the extent that a studio has a really distinctive and identifiable style and recurring themes/ideas, I think we could make a case for a studio being a type of auteur.
I’m not sure I’ve seen Lubezski’s work with other filmmakers , so I can’t really comment. I have seen all of Malick’s films, though, and the last three seem very much like they’re made by the same filmmaker who made the previous films.
an actor is an auteur if he has a consistent persona and the film is HIS film regardless of who made it
Dangerfield is still Dangerfield in NBK or My 5 Wives.
Beatty also makes Beatty films
Sandler keeps his persona thru comedy and drama
An Al Jolson film is an Al Jolson film
I agree with what you’re saying, Den.
What do you think about Eastwood in a Leone film? Are these films Eastwood’s or Leone’s? To me, this is a harder question to answer (although I’d go with Leone).
I think we would give it to Leone in part because Eastwood was not Eastwood yet.
However, if Wolfgang Peterson has a directorial stamp or can be considered an auteur, In the Line of Fire is still Eastwood’s and City Heat is Reynold’s and Eastwood’s much more than Benjerman’s tho doubt anyone would claim it
I don’t know, he seems “Eastwood” enough. What do you think is missing?
City Heat is Reynold’s and Eastwood’s…
As a kid, I longed to see the two in a film, but by the time this came out, I had lost interest in Reynolds.
I tend to agree with Celeryfc and Den on this one and, based on Den’s example’s, I don’t think this is something I tend to like. Well, I like a bunch of co-auteurs, but not the actor as sole auteur, for the most part.
Wait, excepting Fred Astaire if he counts. Or Fred and Ginger in some pictures…
Well, I like a bunch of co-auteurs, but not the actor as sole auteur, for the most part.
I’m curious to hear why you feel that way, if you don’t mind discussing this.
Incidentally, since I brought up Burt Reynolds. He was as much an auteur as anyone when he had the power to get films made. And not just the ones he directed.
Since Sandler was brought up. I submit that Sandler and Reynolds are the same.
Both had/have man-child personas that worked in comedy and drama.
Both favored thin scripted mass appeal movies
and both hired directors and casts based on friendship and having a good time.
Sandler has already made The Longest Yard, only a matter of time before he makes Smokey or Cannonball Run.