Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Botox vs. Acting

posted by Nell Minow

Amanda Fortini writes in New York Magazine about the impact that Botox and other beauty treatments have had on acting. What is a star to do when deciding between a face that can show emotion and one that looks younger but can’t move?

These days, to watch television or to go to the movies is to be jarred, put off, and sometimes saddened by our nonstop exposure to cosmetic interventions. We’re all familiar with the usual specimens, the Heidi Montags and Mickey Rourkes, whose many extreme surgeries and baroque physical changes are routinely dissected by blogs and tabloids. But I’m talking about a different species of performer. Less freakish yet far more abundant are the actors who, by virtue of a range of injectable substances (Botox and its cousin, Dysport; Restylane, Juvéderm, and other fillers of this ilk), are mysteriously unaffected by gravity, childbearing, or free radicals. They seem to have avoided growing old entirely or, like Benjamin Button, to be growing younger with each year. Either that or they look as if they’ve ripened abnormally, their features drifting off in odd, conflicting directions.

What I like about this article is the way it goes beyond the usual tabloid “who’s had work done?” or even “who’s had freakishly bizarre work done?” articles to talk about the way these treatments have affected the style of acting. If you watch early talkies, movies from the 1930’s-late 1940’s, you will still see remnants of early 20th century stage acting with its arch, mid-Atlantic cadences and theatrical gestures. Movie acting was still in its infancy and it really was not until the 1950’s that what we think of today as acting, the natural, intimate, style of performers who understand that the camera will pick up their smallest changes of expression.

The Method brought Freudianism to the screen. Its numerous devotees (Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda) ushered in an era of fluid, naturalistic acting that has continued to flourish to this day….The aim of the Method has, over time, come to define the fundamental mission of dramatic acting itself: to use the face and the body to express subtle, complex, conflicting psychological and emotional states.

But by freezing the face and removing the ability to convey emotion and character with the eyebrows, the forehead, and the mouth, Botox and other treatments have led to a return to acting through more emphasis on gesture and voice, and Fortini says the result is a different kind of character.

Some actors appear to be underplaying their characters, consciously making them cool, without affect. If you can’t move your face, why not create an undemonstrative character? Others have taken the opposite approach: On two cable dramas starring actresses of a certain age, the heroines are brassy and expansive, with a tendency to shout and act out, yet somehow their placid foreheads are never called into play. Usually, when a person reenacts a stabbing or smashes a car with a baseball bat, some part of the face is going to crease or bunch up. Not so with these women. As though to compensate for their facial inertia, both perform with stagy vigor, attempting broad looks of surprise or disappointment, gesticulating and bellowing. If you can’t frown with your mouth, they seem intent on proving, you can try to frown with your voice.

The conflict is getting even more pointed as HD televisions threatens to do to less-than-perfect faces what the introduction of sound did to actors whose voices did not match their profiles. On the other hand, “Avatar” would not have been nearly as affecting without the performance of Zoe Saldana, whose stunningly expressive face was translated by computers that could never hope to replicate true the communication of true emotions, making, for that film, acting the real special effect.



  • jestrfyl

    Those actors who cannot love who they are or who they have become are not likely to truly succeed in the long term. I feel sorry for them. But those who embrace every experience – and wrinkle – often have lengthy, varied, and wonderful careers. The Botox generation will become the “Now, who were they? Didn’t I see them in something else – like a commercial or something?” of trivia games, whereas the folks who allow their age to become part of their acting will often be remembered by name.

Previous Posts

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Love & Mercy with Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUhFpFQeilM?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Love & Mercy" tells the story of Brian Wilson, the brilliant but troubled member of the Beach Boys.

posted 8:14:21am Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win an Insurgent T-Shirt
Getting ready for the second film in the "Divergent" series? Not sure you have just the right thing to wear? I'm here to solve your problem! I have an "Insurgent" t-shirt (Size L) to give away!

posted 3:55:04pm Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Toys That Impair Imagination: The Over-Licensing of Children's Toys
It's always tempting to give children toys from the movies and television programs they love, and some of them are high-quality or even educational. But Melissa Atkins Wardy has a very good argument

posted 8:00:05am Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Ryan Potter, Hiro in "Big Hero 6"
Ryan Potter provided the voice for Hiro in this week's DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6. Talking to him on the phone, it was easy to imagine I was talking to Hiro himself. Other than a few moments with Maya Rudolph, who played Hiro's harried guardian, he did not interact

posted 3:58:31pm Feb. 24, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.