Tons of backlash followed the release of information around Renee Zellweger’s next move, NBC’s “The Thing About Pam.” The IndieWire article, Why Can’t We Cast Actual Fat Actresses to Play Fat Roles? — Opinion, brought up some great points to consider: Being an average American woman means that Hupp is not the size of an
Tons of backlash followed the release of information around Renee Zellweger’s next move, NBC’s “The Thing About Pam.” The IndieWire article, Why Can’t We Cast Actual Fat Actresses to Play Fat Roles? — Opinion, brought up some great points to consider:
This may be going out on a limb, but maybe genetically thinner actors don’t need to take the time to grow in their understanding of living like an average American in a situation where they literally take a job that was designated for a genetically different person?
I love the idea that actors get to disappear into a role, but I’m decreeing that disappearing into a literal fat suit, is not the *acting* we have traditionally given awards for – it’s reserved for people who want to gain that weight and live that way everyday. Which I don’t love entirely. I’m not saying that’s the best way to find the actor to portray a real-life person (I love prosthetics and padding and actors shouldn’t have to change their weight for a role), but a fat suit is just a different person’s body.
I haven’t met any actors that are talking raccoons, I haven’t met any actors that are blue hedgehogs, but I have met actors of many different shapes and sizes. It is such a JOY to transform. Really! There are ways to transform that are fun AND are appropriate. There are ways to lose weight or gain weight or add padding or use computer graphics and I am all for the actor who gets the chance to do the acting through physical transformation.
But I call the fat-suit an insult to all of it. I call the fake pregnant belly an insult, too. There are still reasons to don both of these items. Truly. STORY DRIVEN REASONS. Marketing driven reasons, too. Sure. I get that Renee Zellweger is a legit famous award-winning stunning and emotionally captivating actress with a huge devoted audience following. But is there an equally marketing-sufficient actor who could be in consideration?
Never. Not if we don’t elevate genetically average American sized actors to leading roles.
On social media, some artists in the film industry weighed in with their opinions:
Helenna Santos (🎥 Actor • Writer • Producer
🌱 Plant powered animal lover): (responding to marketing reasons to casting Zellweger to play a role that is reserved for a fatter person) “…It’s the exact excuse that has situations where Emma Stone is playing half Asian or roles based on real people who are minorities being changed to White actors/characters. I think viewers/the world are hungry for more truth in storytelling.”
Anonymous Poster: “Yes and no. People want both: magic and reality. Subject to individual taste. But brand recognition works. Whether Renee Zellweger is fat or not is less relevant from the sales point of view than knowing her name. That being said, there are plenty of fat name-actresses so I’m not sure why they can’t cast those individuals?”
Helenna Santos: “Also, this is all something I struggle with and love the discourse, because proper representation is SO important, but I also understand it’s a business AND it’s an art. But I think we need to make up for the lack of proper representation in the past to bring things to a middle ground.”
My FAVORITE Fat Suit commentary is from @RoseyBeeme !
Maybe there can come a time when actors offered a role of a fatter character may, themselves, ask if they are wearing a few prosthetics for ‘areas’ of their body or a full fat-suit. One of my favorite actors, Jean Smart, donned prosthetic hips and lower girth for her role in “Mare Of Easttown” and then went right back to being less hippy in “Hacks.” Her weight adding prosthetics were age appropriate, changed the way she moved, and gave her a specific adjustment. If it were an entire fat-suit for the sake of being fatter overall, it wouldn’t make sense. And, I bet even if you watched those two shows, you might not have even realized her character-boosting prosthetics were there, because the specificity was character driven. Differentiate the prosthetic from the overall insulting fat-suit.
Maybe that differentiation will give the fat-phobic industry a push into finding the right actor for a role who isn’t changing their body entirely for a role, just adjusting with purpose.
And Don’t even get me started on the fat-phobia that drives wardrobe departments to specifically dress actors in weighty prosthetics and fat-suits as SIGNIFICANTLY less stylish… That’s a whole other thread, and no, it is NOT a commentary on how the fashion industry limits affordable fashion options, it’s purposeful… and mean.