You can spend your whole life waiting for your script to get a movie star attached to it. Getting it through the agencies takes months and months, even with an agent or a producer with some clout pushing it. Agents, producers, actors all have different ideas about what is good and bad about a script or a film. I write my scripts for actors, which is great when an actor finally reads it, but not so great when it’s read by producers or agents who don’t always know how to read a script.
One thing I think most people forget about movie stars is that they can act (most of them, anyway). They are fucking good at what they do, and they’ve paid their dues, and worked on sets and know their job. (Most of them, anyway.)
There used to be a school of thinking where a film was truer or more realistic if you made it with no stars. Remember that line in THE PLAYER, when Richard E. Grant is pitching his script and he says “no stars”, as if the idea of it makes him sick, and then Dean Stockwell chimes in with Bruce Willis. And then when Bruce Willis stars in his film, Richard E. Grant couldn’t be more pleased. He’s sold out. (See how I remember the actors’ names and not the characters’.)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez wouldn’t sell the rights to his books for a long time because the idea of stars playing his characters would ruin the image people had of those characters, because that image would be replaced by the stars that played them. I’m not sure what happened to that mentality. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I love the passion in it; making the decision that your film will not have stars in it because it’s your artistic choice, not because you can’t get CAA to return your phone calls.
Of course, you need a star to get financing for your film. But then again, you’d be surprised how big a star has to be to get your film financed. There’s only a few stars out there that are big enough to do that right now, and most of them are over 40. They are a surprisingly small and shrinking list, as there hasn’t been much of a younger generation to take their place. So this can’t be the only reason to get a star because, most of the time, you’d be better off making the film for cheap without one. Even when a star wants to do your film, the scheduling can be a nightmare and the cost is sometimes detrimental to the film. You would also be surprised at the level of talent that becomes available once you are making your low-budget film and actually have schedule.
Here’s a little from my Manifesto about stars. Whether it’s worth wasting the years it takes getting to these guys, I still don’t have an answer, and I’ve been wasting a lot of years.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STARS
Anyone interested in a cinema of ideas, needs an actor of power and charisma and gravitas to deliver these ideas. The fact that an actor is famous is not really the point, but they are generally famous for a reason, which is that they possess the qualities that a filmmaker needs. This is not always the case. Stars can be discovered, and there are excellent actors working that don’t make up the A-list, but celluloid is a magical thing and stars have a unique ability to communicate through it in powerful ways. So it is not a stars popularity that a filmmaker needs, it is their power to communicate and their talent to inspire.