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October 1992


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"(Lezlie Shell)" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 5 Oct 1992 11:32:49 CDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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From MAILER-DAEMON  Mon Oct  5 11:29:43 1992
Date: Mon, 5 Oct 92 11:29:43 CDT
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From: lshell (Lezlie Shell)
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Subject: Fans/stars
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Date: Mon, 5 Oct 92 11:29:41 CDT
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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  I think we are looking at the
character/actor blending from opposite sides of the omlette.  Scott
Bakula had 2(?) previous series before QL (he as also Annie Potts'
ex-husband Ted on Designing Women) but no fandoms sprung up around
those shows on the strength of Scott Bakula's physical charms or
"nice-guy".  For me is is always a shock to see an actor who has made
such an impression on one show in an earlier recurring role in which
he made no "fan" impression.
First comes the show and having good relationships on that show is as
integral as having a good premise.  Once one is hooked on the characters
the desire to know aboutthe actors kicks in.
When I said you were overestimating the characteristics of actors in
the fan construction of characters I wasn't denying that bleed-through
occurs.  I meant to convey that the bleed-through first occurs from
the actor into the character when portraying the character.  I've
read interviews with actors talking/moaning about playing the same
character for 12 hours a day, etc.  Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins
ad-libbed a lot of their character exchanges.  Also, shows tend to use
a stable of writers who become familiar with the actors which colors what
they write. ANd, lord protect us, the actors who want their characters
to care about their personal political agenda.
When a fan starts delving into the background of an actor, collecting
old interviews, doing literature searches, and generally devouring
every scrap of info, a synthesis does take place.  But the first and
strongest deciphering is looking at the characters, comparing what has
been learned about the actor and playing the "aha!" game.  It's more of
It's more about feeling like an insider to the production.
Look at Alien Nation.  The fandom sprang up before anyone knew much of
anything about the largely unknown cast.  Unfortunately, the show disappeared
before the publicity machine produced much material.
What happens when a character is portrayed by an actor who does not share
the sterling qualities of the character?  Here is where you see the very
real division between character and actor.  Basically, nothing gets in the
way of likeing the character.  William Shater has had a checkered relationship
with fandom, but despite really dislike Shatner's attitudes, Kirk has not
suffered for it.
I made the trip to CHicago to see Lewis Collins at a con.  I hadn't attended
a con with a guest actor in years, but I was still in the throes of
newness with Pros and I couldn't resist.  Basically, I came away with a
whole new respect for Lewis Collins' acting ability because that shorter
than average, reserved Brit in the short-sleeved polyester safari jacket
was NOT my Bodie.
I do think think this is a very interesting question.  However, the inter-
pretation by fans is already pretty far down the food chain.  I guess I
like thinking that fans have "figured it out" as opposed to having
manufactured it from wishful thinking.
Best of luck with your work.