I got another interesting email this week, which got me thinking. Last week I mentioned that I’m following a pretty strict diet, because I’m whipping my body into shape. Vikram, who is a budding actor wrote to me asking how important it is to have a good physique in order to be an actor. We’re all getting more and more conscious of the way we look nowadays. Some of us to the point of obsession, which is obviously not a good thing.
Let’s take a look at this whole thing honestly and practically. Everybody on board? Here we go. I don’t think rippling muscles are a prerequisite to becoming an actor; they certainly don’t guarantee so much as a chance, let alone success. But let’s be honest, we like our heroes and heroines to look good. This involves eating sensibly, keeping fit and basically maintaining yourself. If you’re healthy, you look better. It’s that simple.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to look perfect. It just means that you should look the best that you can. Without going into specifics, there are many leading actors who are not conventionally good looking. They might have strange noses, or be dark-skinned or have bushy eyebrows (me)... all the things which we think are unattractive, and yet they have become huge stars. How?
Because they have that other magic ingredient that makes a star. Noone knows what it is, exactly... we call it ‘star quality’ or an ‘x-factor’. It has nothing to do with how you look, or speak or dress. You can’t train it, or develop it. It’s just... there. Or not. If he has it, an actor appeals to you. You like him, and you think his droopy eyes are cute, or his crooked nose adds character. You don’t notice that an actress is a bit overweight, because there’s something about her eyes that grabs you. There’s no other way for me to say this; it’s magic. Some people have it, and some people don’t.
That’s why there are so many incredibly good looking actors and actresses with perfect bodies who never made it, and so many top stars who you’d never have thought would even be allowed to audition. So for what it’s worth, Vikram, here’s my opinion; I think that in order to be a successful actor, you have to first have that ‘something’ which noone will ever be able to understand or explain. And you have to make an effort to groom yourself, look as fit and attractive as you can. Because we like our heroes and heroines to look good. But at the end of the day, if they don’t have the magic, the flattest stomachs and biggest biceps won’t save them.