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Stardom often affects the effectiveness of a particular performance in the field of acting.
I was watching the second part of “Infernal Affairs” – a Hong Kong original (that inspired Martin Scorcese’s Departed, as I came to know later). I didn’t know any of these actors and which ones are stars! I wouldn’t know who is potentially the main hero, the negative character, a typical sidekick, etc just by looking at them. I had to really watch the performances – which were actually good throughout this well scripted, directed & edited movie.
It really helped to not know these stars as I was able to watch their performance in acting, and not the stars behind them.
To relate to how much it impacts the effectiveness of performance let me take few examples…
Amitabh Bachchan in Paa has been one of the most outstanding performances in acting but when I was watching the movie I was still trying to find the Amitabh behind the character. I was unsuccessful in my quest primarily due to the power of the performance but in the end I would have been better off just focusing on performance.
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump & Leonardo in Blood Diamond could also potentially be victims of the same phenomenon but for their flawless performance.
When watching a performance (or a movie as a package), we would want the audience to flow with the writing, story and performances – and not get swayed by the preoccupations associated with the actors behind the performance.
So, I was able to enjoy ‘Infernal Affairs II’. I couldn’t anticipate what could happen, who will last the final moments in the movie (If I know who the main star of the movie is I won’t expect him or her to die early, will I? Some movie makers exploit this to great effect in shading typical villains positively or vice versa, and pulling the carpet from underneath the audience in a thriller!)
Stardom is not easy to handle for actors already and this one factor weighs heavily against them as for as evaluation of their performance goes. Audience look out for them more than their performance. An outstanding is minimum requirement for effective acting then!