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When Does a Movie Star Become an Actor?

I think that most people would agree that there is a distinction between a “movie star” and “an actor”. I think that the great Nicholas Meyer offered a definition that fits quite well:

What’s the difference between an actor and a movie star? An actor is someone who pretends to be somebody else. A movie star is somebody who pretends that somebody else is them. Actors will change their face, will change their hair, will change their voice, will disappear into the role. A movie star doesn’t disappear.

That might sound quite harsh towards a “movie star”, but I think that you could argue that a movie star (if applied correctly) can add a certain amount of artistic weight to a film:

A movie star is someone whose past work enriches your experience of, and deepens your pleasure in, his or her present work. In other words, a movie star is someone whose baggage you want to carry.

I don’t mean that the terms are mutually exclusive insofar as they apply to a specific individual (indeed I can think of several performers who are both actors and movie stars), nor that it’s a fixed position (I can think of many individuals who have started out as what might be considered an “actor” before becoming a “movie star” in their own right). In fact, while it’s easy to think of any number of performers who have repositioned themselves as movie stars after beginning as actors, it’s somewhat rarer to see it happen the other way around. Is the road from actor to movie star a one-way trip?

Is it a rocky road to being taken seriously as an actor?

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