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What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?

August 25, 2018

I have answered over 100 questions on Quora.com this year.. covering a wide variety of subjects. This is a pretty good hobby, and I like to help.

Here’s my answer to “What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?”

My answers tend to be lengthy, but I like to be thorough.

There are so many possible and very good answers to this question that it is difficult to single out one answer, or even a few.

Also, it would help if you could specify A-list actor, B-movie actor, or aspiring actor (I’m using the word “actor” because sometimes it is non-gender specific – I’ve heard women refer to themselves as “actors.”)

I think perhaps the biggest problem with being an A-lister is dealing with the utter insanity of fame. Neurosis, failed marriages, drug addiction, suicide. So many actors cannot cope with the fame.

I think the legends with the longest careers were probably more stable than most others who try to get into this field, and learned, over time, and with practice and patience, to deal with the fame. I’m thinking of such people as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and Hugh Jackman seem quite level-headed as well, compared to others.

There have been casualties.. such as Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who have not been so fortunate.

Another difficulty of A-listers is making good choices, and weathering flops. The longer and more successful a career, the more forgiving critics and fans are about flops. (This is true for directors, as well as actors). It’s tough to have flops early on or even midway through a career.

Some people just have a knack for picking films that will likely do well at the box office, and/or please the critics, whether these movies are blockbusters or smaller films. Scarlett Johansson is a master of this. Look at her filmography. I’ve seen her in a LOT of movies (she’s one of my favorites) but not just because she’s starring in them. So many of the films she’s starred in since she was a kid have been either great, or, in my opinion, better than average.

Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence also have a better than average track record, I think. (Watch “American Hustle” to see excellent performances by those three, and Amy Adams – definitely a film for adults, though).

TV (not HBO, but network TV) actors, and B-movie actors, if they have come to accept what they are, and their place in Hollywood, might have good lives, and make a decent to rather good living. But it’s the minor leagues. So many aspire to fame and fortune, and never get there.

Aspiring actors.. so many difficulties. Here are three of the worst that I can think of: 1. an astonishingly immense amount of competition. Thousands upon thousands of people, especially young people, in Hollywood, working menial jobs, and hoping to land work as an actor.

Think of the Penny character from “The Big Bang Theory.” (The actress who plays her, Kaley Cuoco, is an extreme rarity, a success story). Penny is a waitress, for years, who thinks she has talent, but doesn’t (I didn’t watch all the seasons of this show, so I don’t know if Penny ever lands a role – just using this character as one example). So.. the immense competition..that’s one huge obstacle.

2. Delusional thinking. Ever watch those early auditions for American Idol? Tens of thousands of people line up at these auditions, and most of them don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of even getting on the show, much less winning. They think they can sing, and sing well, but they can’t.

Aspiring actors also have a tremendous about of delusional thinking.

There’s a character in one of my favorite films, “Wish I Was Here,” in which Zach Braff plays a man in his 30’s who has a wife (who has a serious job that she hates), and two kids to support, but he keeps chasing his dream. Mush to the consternation of his wife, and his father.

Unfortunately, delusional thinking is massively encouraged in our society. Each speech by a celebrity who has ever won an award.. “Follow your dreams! If I could do it, you can do it too!!” Well, for most people, that is total bullshit.

Delusional thinking is a SEVERE problem.

3. A problem that is especially insidious.. Hollywood is filled with very sick and manipulative people who try all sorts of schemes to take advantage of starstruck young people. Bad contracts, charging huge amounts of money for services that turn out to be non-existent, and luring people into the porn business. These people are the destroyers of souls and dreams, and there are a LOT of them out there.

So, yes, lots of problems and pitfalls. I’ve tried to pick the worst ones to write about.

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