Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pretty ugly

This is a picture of Joss Stone:


This is a picture of Joss Stone playing Anne of Cleves:


This is a painting of Anne of Cleves:

It's pretty generally accepted that Anne of Cleves was not a striking beauty, and that this was the main reason Henry VII was unwilling to consummate the marriage and thus sought an annulment pretty quick smart.

Female acting roles seem to almost exclusively be the domain of the beautiful. Couldn't we at least have the historical characters who were renowned for not being conventionally beautiful portrayed by women who aren't stunningly attractive?

21 comments:

Anji said...

I felt much the same about Charlize Theron's portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Were there seriously no non-conventionally-attractive actresses? Did they really have to take a conventionally-attractive actress and "ugly her up"? :o/

Idiot/Savant said...

Hollywood doesn't do ugly. The best they can do is "Hollywood ugly", like the Nosferatu on "Kindred: the Embraced" (for those who haven't seen it, they're supposed to be absolutely hideous and malformed as a mark of ancient sin. Which in Hollywood apparently means "bald").

If you want actors who look like real people, you have to look outside the US. The UK is pretty good for it (they also manage to do racially mixed casts, rather than dividing their film and TV into "black" and "white" shows)

Bomber said...

Julie - sorry to post out of the blue on this, but just a question - will Hand Mirror publish the name of the NZ entertainer who managed permanent name suppression?

I was thinking of doing it at Tumeke, but thought maybe you would want to first?

Eric Olthwaite said...

There is a hole in your argument, and it is...Henry VIII.

Look at a picture of him on Wikipedia - Fat, average, short.

Then look at John Rhys Myers.

I rest my case :-)

Julie said...

Eric, is a pivotal aspect of Henry VII's character and story based on his appearance, to the same extent as the Anne of Cleves character? Nope.

That said, I do think it's quite absurd to have someone who is like a million years too young playing Henry in his later life. He was married to Katherine of Aragon for a really long time, but the actor playing him looks like if that were the true timeline they must have been wed in nappies.

Julie said...

Bomber - we haven't discussed it, maybe we should, not sure, will put it to the group by email.

Hugh said...

Idiot - can you name a famous British actress who is a) not conventionally attractive and b) Judi Dench? Because I think this is about more than just 'LOL America Suxx'

I think part of the problem here is that conventionally attractive actresses who 'pretty down', albeit ever so slightly, tend to receive a lot of praise from highbrow critics, thus creating a strong incentive to do this. Nicole Kidman's ridiculous prosthetic nose when playing Virginia Woolf springs to mind.

Julie said...

I'm tempted to see your Judi Dench and raise you a Julie Walters, but I do take your point Hugh.

Where are the Gene Hackmans, the Sir Ian McKellens, the Jack Nicholsons of the female world?

A Nonny Moose said...

Hugh, I'll see you Nicole's nose, and raise you Gwyneth's fat suit.

As much as I like Jack Black, I was horrendously po'd that they got the epitome of Hollywood anorexia to play a larger lady. What was the moral? "There's a skinny girl fighting to get out of every fatty?" "You can only see true inner beauty if you see their skinniness below the bulge?"

And don't get me started on Renee Zellwegger's Bridget Jones.

When a guy fattens up/skinny's down/uglies up for a role he's an ARTIST. When a woman does it, she's on the celebrity slimming treadmill.

Idiot/Savant said...

Where are the Gene Hackmans, the Sir Ian McKellens, the Jack Nicholsons of the female world?

Which brings us to another piece of Hollywood code: "character actor". meaning "looks like a real person, rather than a plastic invader from outer space".

OTOH, this can be used in amusing ways. After "V", everyone will know that the Beautiful People are really kitten-eating reptilian aliens who want to steal the planet's stupid plot token. Or something.

Idiot/Savant said...

Hugh: I take your point. But still, there is a difference (masked by the fact that most movies are from Hollywood, with UK people only present as villains): you see ordinary looking actors on UK TV, but not on US.

I think this is primarily due to differences in acting career paths in the two countries. In the UK, actors start off in theatre - something that's immediately apparent if you start wiki-ing cast members for any UK TV show. In the US, they don't, and instead seem to be selected on appearance. Result A: there's a wider variety of appearances in UK media, because theatre doesn't care so much about how people look. Result B: the cast of UK TV shows can actually act, rather than it being seen as some amazing abberation (Victor from Dollhouse, I'm looking at you).

Hugh said...

Idiot

I've got to admit, it's rare that I see somebody who is so vehemently non-British as you are giving such effusive head to the British way of doing things. If your personal solution for sexism is to delete Hollywood and replace it with the West End, well, more power to you, but I'm a long way from convinced.

Anonymous said...

As a regular reader of The Hand Mirror could I put in my two cents about publishing the name of the entertainer? Please don't! If anybody wants to find out who he is they can just google it. You'll get his name in 2 seconds flat. I get that people are pissed about him getting name suppression - I am too - but it's not worth getting this site shut down. THM is an important blog. The posts on here are about things we SHOULD be talking about. The site will probably get shut down if you print his name. It's just not worth it.

Idiot/Savant said...

Hugh: I'll take improvement whereever I find it - even the UK.

Brett Dale said...

What about men though??

All the heroes are played by good looking guys like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise or Matt Damon, but the bad guys are played by people like William Dafoe or Kevin Spacey.

What message is that sending people???

Brett Dale said...

Christina Ricci best actress ever.

katy said...

There is that new movie "Precious" I think it is called in which the lead character is played by a pretty real looking woman.

Anne of Cleves doesn't look too hideous in that portrait ;)

Julie said...

Thanks for the feedback about the name suppression thingy Anon, I'm hoping to write something about our views on publishing this afternoon.

And yeah I agree that Anne of Cleves doesn't look hideous in that picture either. The fact that Henry VIII couldn't deal with the fact she wasn't a raging beauty, even though he really needed the marriage to succeed for a whole heap of political and successional reasons, says much more about him than it says about her imho.

Hugh said...

I wouldn't necessarily presume that portrait was an accurate depiction of her physical appearance. That generally wasn't the first concern of painters in that era.

Julie said...

In The Tudors telly series Cromwell heavily pressures Holbien to paint her in a flattering manner, not sure if that has any basis in historical fact, but it would seem to explain why Henry married her after seeing the portrait...

Tove said...

Anne of cleaves wasn't ugly, Holbien was told to paint her uber realistically. But she didn't speak english, her clothes weren't fashionable, she offended Henry when they first met, and Henry was very insane by that point, fat, old, ugly, and accustomed to following any whim.