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Hollywood Leans Toward More Natural Looks

Casting directors say too much plastic surgery can hurt acting career

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Faiza Elmasry

Mention Hollywood, and most people think of glamour: beautiful women with smooth, flawless skin and perfectly aligned white teeth, men with trim athletic bodies.



But much of that look is artificial: breast implants, Botox-treated faces, collagen-injected lips and other surgically-enhanced body parts. Many filmmakers and casting directors are looking for actors with a more natural look, but they say that has become quite a challenge.

Many actors believe enhancing their looks with cosmetic surgery will give them an advantage when they audition for film and TV roles, according to Tony Nation, president of Actors Connection, which helps young actors and models get noticed.

Actors Connection's Tony Nation says there's too much reliance on plastic surgery.
Actors Connection's Tony Nation says there's too much reliance on plastic surgery.

"There are more actors now entering the entertainment market than any other time in America, which is a wonderful thing because actors are being really prepared as far as artists," he says. "But there are more actors entering the mainstream than there are jobs. So it's a very, very competitive, tough market."

Nation does believe there is too much reliance on plastic surgery.

"It's almost like sort of social pressure," he  explains. "Now it's like everything is being done. So you see women in their teens and twenties having plastic surgery. I think it's just a really dangerous mindset."

Cathryn Marlowe started her acting career more than 10 years ago and has appeared on a number of TV shows. "I'm not a big advocate of plastic surgery, [but] I'm not against it," says the 32-year old, who has also started a second career as a makeup artist.

"I've known other actresses who had it," she says. "I had a friend who had a little bump on her nose. It bothered her and she had it fixed, and her self-esteem went up 200 percent once that was fixed."

However, Marlowe says, the fact that cosmetic surgery has become more available and affordable doesn't mean actors have to change their unique natural look.

Actress Cathryn Marlowe, 32, believes actors should not change their unique natural look.
Actress Cathryn Marlowe, 32, believes actors should not change their unique natural look.

"I think with the plastic surgery, it's just gone so crazy that if you look at certain people, they don't look human anymore," she says. "And you need to look human. Sophia Loren had a great comment in an interview. When she first came to the U.S., they wanted her to have a nose job and she said to them, 'No,' she said, 'I am Italian. I have a Roman nose. I will look stupid with a little nose on my face.' Yet she's considered one of the great beauties of Hollywood of all times."

While many actors think plastic surgery will improve their chances of getting a part, Marlowe suggests it could actually hurt them.

"It actually distances the audience from you, because you don't look like they do," she says. "I think if you go to the excessiveness of plastic surgery, people don't relate to you. They look at you as if you're phony. I also think as an actor, you want to be able to play many parts, and if you have so much surgery done that you could only look a certain way, you're limiting the parts you're going to play."

"The puffy lips is the worst," says casting director Keith Wolfe. He doesn't like seeing actors whose skin is either too taut or swollen with filler as a result of the surgery.

"If an actress is getting older and you can tell by looking at her or him that they have had plastic surgery, then that takes away what people liked about that actor in the first place," he says. "If they can get the work done and walk into your casting office and you cannot tell by looking at them that they've had anything done, that's O.K."

Nor does Wolfe like when all the young actors showing up for an audition look the same.

"You don't want to fall into the cookie cutter syndrome," he says. "If you are an actress, you really don't need to go to a plastic surgeon and give a picture of a famous actor and say, 'I want to look like this.' That's not going to help them at all, because you have to start with your natural self and grow from that. You shouldn't ever try to copy someone else because you can never be that person."

After almost 20 years in the casting business, Wolfe says he knows what it takes to become a star. And it's not all about looks.

"I've had a lot of beautiful actresses coming into my office," he adds. "They are beautiful, but they are not prepared. They haven't learned the craft. So the first thing I tell an actor to do is learn your craft and be ready when you get the opportunity."

Actors Connection's Tony Nation agrees. He recommends that young actors take care of themselves and grow old gracefully.

"I had a voice teacher who I used to study with," he says. "He always would say, 'You have the face you're born with before 40, and you have the face that you deserve after 40.' I apply that to actors. Take care of their body. Take care of this instrument, because your look, your face and everything you have - that is what you're constantly selling. So it's really important to take care of your body."

Nation says as more and more casting directors and filmmakers choose more natural looking talent, actors and actresses will become more cautious about having plastic surgery if their goal is to survive in the highly competitive business.

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