Turn on your TV any day and you might think you’ve watched a feature film. The once-nurtured stigma of “real actors” appearing on the small screen has all but disappeared, and high-quality television programming has attracted a swarm of top Hollywood talent. Christian Slater, Matthew McConaughey and James Franco have all recently moved onto television, and the shows they appear in are doing very well. This raises questions: what triggered this migration and will the trend continue?
The increase in television quality
Last summer, Variety interviewed several A-listers appearing in television series: Jessica Lange (american horror storyFX) Taraji P. Henson (EmpireFox), Michael Sheen (masters of sexShowtime), Julianna Marguilies (The good wifeCBS), Viola Davis (How to get away with murder, ABC), and Clive Owen (The Knick, Cinemax), to name a few. They all declared it to be this supposed “golden age of television” and cited “hardware” as the key that opened up the world of television. Owen noted that while he wasn’t actively looking to do TV, he ‘couldn’t write the script for’The Knick.”
“Television is raising the bar for character-driven drama series.”
During his acceptance speech for the 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Actor in a Drama Series for the HBO Miniseries real detectiveaccomplished Hollywood film actor Matthew McConaughey said “television is raising the bar for character-driven drama series”.
In an interview last year with The Independent, veteran movie actor and seven-time Oscar nominee Dustin Hoffman has been singing the praises of television. “I think right now television is the best it’s ever been,” he said. “And I think that’s the worst movie that’s ever been – in the 50 years I’ve been doing it.”
Jane Fonda, who appears on the Netflix original series Grace and Frankie, says actors just want to go “where the good writing is.”
And good — no, great — writing has made its way to television, across genres, from drama to comedy; and through various platforms, from broadcast network TV to premium networks and streaming originals.
Who makes the move?
Writers, directors and producers, like JJ Abrams, known for making blockbuster movies as massive as Star Trek, Mission Impossible 3, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, have long recognized the potential of the television format. Abrams’ hit series Lost (2004-2010), which won two Emmys, could never have been as gripping and complex in the film format as it was as a television series, which ran a total of 121 hours on six seasons. Shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and game of thrones have proven that the quality of writing in the television space has improved dramatically since the days of cookie-cutter crime dramas and mystery thriller programming.
A film has a chance of being a success or a failure.
The list of great shows and the Hollywood actors who run them is, to say the least, long. In 2014, Oscar winner Halle Berry moved to TV country to lead the cast of the now-canceled CBS show. Existing. In the same year, McConaughey won awards for both films (Dallas Buyers Club) and television (real detective.) The second season of this series was replaced by two more A-listers: Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell. Claire Danes starred in all five seasons of the popular Showtime series CountryJames Spader directs the cast on NBC The black listand Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey are a political power couple on Netflix Card castle. Yes, the same Wright of The princess to be married and Spacey from The usual suspects. And we are only scratching the surface.
More recently, Christian Slater, an accomplished film actor with films like Heathers (1989) and Turn up the sound (1990) under his belt, joined the cast of the popular USA Network show Mister Robot, which begins its second season in July. He said rolling stone that he just wanted to “take risks” and “do things that scare me”.
Obviously, the quality of writing and storytelling is an important part of the change, but more important is why television seems more attractive than ever to big-name actors.
More character and plot development
Television offers an actor the ability to deliver a more nuanced and layered portrayal of a character. Viewers, ratings Entertainment Weekly’s Melissa Maerz, can “get to know characters on an emotional level that your average feature film can’t handle”. Take a show like breaking Bad Where Dexter: Many fans found themselves torn with ever-changing feelings of disgust, admiration, and pity for the main characters as the series progressed through each season.
Serial lengths are more attractive
While broadcast TV series are usually over 20 episodes per season, the latest premium content, including streaming originals, nearly cuts that in half to around 13, making the TV genre much more palatable for a cast member. It also allows for more risk taking – while a great TV show can have a bad season, a great one to follow can save it. A movie, on the other hand, has a chance of being a hit or a miss.
Viewers have spoken
Attention span has decreased and viewers are busy. We like to watch at home and watch at our own pace. In one Statista survey 2013, 57% of US respondents said they preferred watching movies at home, compared to just 21% who said they preferred the cinema. In 2014, US box office numbers dropped 5.2% – the biggest drop since 1995. In order for actors to have time in front of viewers who don’t go to the movies as often, the TV format is a viable way to do it.
Action and animation rule the big screen
Filmmakers are increasingly turning to big-budget action films and animated voice-over roles. The five best films of 2015, according to worldwide box office numberswere Star Wars: The Force Awakens; jurassic world; Furious 7; The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Minions – four big-budget action films and one animated feature. Compare that to the top 10 time-shifted shows for 2015, according to Nielsen figureswhich were all star dramas Fargo; True detective; You better call Saul; Bates Motel; and game of thrones.
Meanwhile, actors looking for films with more depth encounter what Los Angeles Time refers to “Oscar bait”. In other words, if Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, or Eddie Redmayne aren’t in it, chances are the movie isn’t giving the actor the kind of exposure he’s looking for. may be.
Streaming services offer new options
Arguably one of the main drivers here is the rise of subscription streaming services, which have more leeway because they aren’t reliant on big studios and advertising. This, in turn, gives actors more freedom in the projects they choose. It also provides exposure to a large consumer base without worrying about box office numbers, linear TV subscriptions, or even ratings. Variety calls streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu “a virtual playground for creativity.” This has attracted actors like Fonda, Spacey and Wright, as well as others like James Franco, who appears in the original Hulu streaming miniseries. 11/22/63which debuted earlier this year.
The golden age continues
Is this really the golden age of television? We would say this is the golden age of entertainment…period. And actors of all kinds are looking to capitalize on this era in the most effective way possible. With compelling TV content that inspires viewers to tune in religiously every week, passionately talk about episodes at work, and share their views on social media, any actor would be foolish not to participate.