Guest Post: Brother, Can You Spare a Role?

Thanks to my friend, playwright/producer/director Kevin Clancy, for today's essay.

by Kevin Clancy

I have noticed lately an increasing number of actors have been getting roles on more than one TV series at the same time. I’m used to it happening on the big screen. A hot actor in a starring role translates into big box office. I get it. But, with the tens of thousands of unemployed actors out there, is it really necessary to give already employed actors what few available roles there are?

The classic example is Natalie Zea. A wonderful actress who is a co-star of the long running FX series Justified. AND the co-star of Fox’s The Following, about to enter its second season. AND a recent 3 episode guest arc on this year’s new Stephen King based series, Under The Dome. They couldn’t find another, unemployed actress for that part?

Speaking of Under The Dome, how about Rachelle Marie Lefevre, the co-lead as the investigative journalist, who also snagged the key role of Moriarty on Elementary at the end of last season?
Then there’s Chris Messina, co-star of Fox’s hit comedy The Mindy Project who is also playing the son of network head Jane Fonda on HBO’s Newsroom? Both are now in their second seasons.

This “multitasking” isn’t totally new. I’m old enough to remember Robert Picardo playing a teacher on The Wonder Years and a doctor on China Beach at the same time. It just seems to be becoming more prevalent lately. Don’t get me wrong. I think they are all terrific actors who are great in their roles. 

And I certainly am happy to see a Margo Martindale getting steady work year after year in one season arcs on Dexter, Justified, The Americans, and now her own series The Millers. But did the producers of Masters of Sex REALLY need to also cast her in the relatively small role of the secretary?

It’s always VERY tough to make a living as an actor. On any given day, tens of thousands are out of work. So, in this difficult time in our nation’s economy, couldn’t Hollywood give a few of these actors a break and give them a chance at a steady paycheck, health insurance and, gasp, even STARDOM, instead of giving these roles to already working actors? Just a thought.

Good comments, Kevin.  I think casting directors sometimes rely more on actors who are already working instead of taking a risk with an actor who is a new face.  I agree with you, though, I'd like to see more new faces -- it's certainly not like there aren't plenty of talented, capable actors out there who could do the job.