I have been a visiting artist at UNLV, in Las Vegas, this week. I read several of the students’ screenplays and had one-on-one meetings after making my usual blood-letting red pen notes all over their pages.
I found myself saying, over and over, what I often say to clients. I’ve said it now so many times that I think it may actually be useful advice!
Write your hero for Angelina Jolie, the action hero. Not Angelina Jolie the wonderful actress in PLAYING BY HEART, but Angelina Jolie the biggest star there is, kicking ass and then kicking more ass. THAT is who you hope will want to play your twelve year old boy character or your thirty year old housewife or twenty two year old computer nerd. An actress who is looking for cool stuff to do, ACTION to take.
Stuff to do!
Cool stuff to do!
If you’re writing a student film or a feature that already has financing, you desperately want the best actor you can get to be in it. Or, you want a reader to really, really dig what you’ve done. If you write a wimpy couch potato hero with no ambition who is boring to watch, guess what, Angeline Jolie, action star, will not want to play that part! No matter how much you pay her. This is going to be a real problem for you if you have no money and can only pay with pizza.
The way to attract good actors is by giving them something wonderful to do. Something wonderful to say. If your script fails to do that, you’re going to attract mediocre actors who are hungry for cold pizza. And, if that is the case, do not make your movie.
Write the housewife role, the little kid role, the businessman role … ALL OF THEM… for Angelina Jolie. Give them action. Give them decisions. Give them tough situations and make them “slug” their way out of them. The conflict can be a broken zipper at a Garden Club meeting… but ask yourself, “How would Angelina Jolie handle this?” and proceed accordingly.
It sounds ridiculous. But it’s good advice.
So, if you don’t think Angelina Jolie, action movie star, will want to play the lead in your film — rewrite it.