Friday, December 13, 2013
While in the role of Lizzie MaGuire, Hilary Duff made a habit of squeaking, gasping, squealing or hiccupping the word "Oh!" to express surprise, delight, anger, disappointment, or any number of feelings. Not the acting range of Meryl Streep, but her little noises became an endearing trademark. At the time, the It! Girl was the Oh! Girl.
When Duff got into the movies, a director got upset to hear her making her cute little squeak. He explained that she wasn't playing Lizzie MaGuire and she didn't need to make that sound anymore. She told him that the sound was all her own. When she acted as Lizzie, she said, she was doing little more than being herself. The director took time out of the production schedule to get Duff acting lessons. He had special instructions for her acting coach to get rid of the squeak. Hollywood likes to turn actors into commodities and they often get rid of those little quirks that make an actor special. Someone should have reminded the director that Julia Roberts had a good career with her whooping laugh. What about Jimmy Stewart's stutter, or Humphrey Bogart's twitchy lip, or Clint Eastwood's squinty eyes? Our flaws are part of what make us individuals.
We need more actors with quirks. I am unable to tell apart many of the leading men working in films today. It took me years to figure out the difference between Hayden Christensen and Ryan Phillipe.