What is “Type”?

By Webmaster

  • What is “Type”?

    You have to know exactly what you’re selling in order to consistently make the sale

    (by Tonya Tannenbaum)

    An actor’s “type” generally refers to the category or categories that the actor is loosely placed in for purposes of casting. An actor’s type is useful for narrowing down which actors, among the vast sea of potential actors, might fit the breakdown of a role being cast. Sometimes referred to as an actor’s “niche”, type is also useful for actors in their understanding of where they fit into the market, relative to other actors.

    Breaking down “Type”

    All theatrical presentation is based on an audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. That is, audiences understand that the production they are experiencing is make-believe. They understand the character in The Martian, for example, is not really on the planet, Mars, and that the character, Mark Watney, is actually the famous actor, Matt Damon. But the audience suspends their disbelief in order to accept this imaginary world and enjoy the story.

    However, this suspension of disbelief can only go so far. The imaginary world still must be genuinely believable. Otherwise the audience will reject the imaginary world altogether.

  • What if, for example, the role of Mark Watney in The Martian was cast, not with Matt Damon, but with an actor who looks 18 years of age; too young to realistically be the astronaut, Mark Watney? The audience would, of course, reject the story wholesale, because the 18-year-old astronaut is simply not plausible in that story.

    This is where type comes into play. An actor’s type plays an essential role in the casting process. Because, no matter how talented an actor is, he or she can only, believably, play a limited number of roles.

  • Criteria for “Type”


    As an actor, you probably already know what criteria generally make up an actor’s type. They are the key physical and personality factors that are usually laid out in breakdowns. They include things like:

    Gender – male or female

    Age range – whether an actor appears to fall within the general age range of the character

    Race – whether an actor appears to fit within the racial background of the character

    • Physical build – whether an actor fits the size, height, weight and overall dimensions required for the character

    • Look – whether the audience can immediately identify an actor as fitting with the character’s personality and profession, such as lawyer, doctor, grandfather, geek, affluent, arrogant, etc.

  • Type is important for casting

    Casting must choose actors who can believably fit the roles being cast. While there is lots of room for creativity and deviation, casting, nonetheless, must choose an actor who fits the breakdown well-enough for audiences to take the character, and the overall story, seriously.

    Type is one of the first things casting directors examine when determining from whom to request a self-tape or to bring in for an in-person audition.

    If an actor does not fit the essence of the character as described in the breakdowns, the casting director will likely move on to the next actor.

    While there are always exceptions made during the casting process, actors rarely get cast outside of a small collection of roles.

    Type is also important for casting because it narrows the field of potential actors, making it easier to find and cast the right actor in a role that is right for them and for the story.

  • Type is important for actors, too

    Understanding “type” is important for actors, as well. Since actors can only believably play a limited number of characters, knowing your type is essential to effectively finding and competing for the roles that are right for you.

    Auditioning for roles that you’re not right for is usually a waste of time, since it is very unlikely that you’ll be cast in a role that doesn’t fit your type.

    It is the proverbial fitting of a square peg into a round hole. If you constantly audition for roles that don’t fit your type, your success rate will suffer, no matter how talented you are. There are just some roles an actor cannot do or, at least, cannot do nearly as well as another actor who better fits the type that the role demands.

    It is also a waste of resources. Auditioning for roles that don’t fit your type is a waste of money, effort, and focus. Knowing where you effectively fit into the marketplace – your type – makes it easier to concentrate your resources and to find success. In other words, you have to know exactly what you’re selling in order to consistently make the sale.


    You Might Also Like:
    What are “Sides”?
    What is a “Cold Read”?


     

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • Actor Stories: Molly Shannon’s 10-Year-Struggle to Beat the Odds in Hollywood

    Actor Stories: Molly Shannon’s 10-Year-Struggle to Beat the Odds in Hollywood How many years are you willing to dedicate to your dream of becoming a professional, working actor? (Arranged by Carmichael Phillips) How…

    Keep Your Actor Body!

    Keep Your Actor Body! Cut Down on Sugar to Stay in Shape During Quarantine (Todd Bruce) Coronavirus has robbed us of something many of us hold dear: our weekly or monthly trips to…

    Quarantine and Build

    Quarantine and Build…Your Acting Career 5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Acting Career While Under Quarantine (by Jim Webb) “It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times.”…

    Don’t Do These 7 Things When Choosing a Monologue

    Don’t Do These 7 Things When Choosing a Monologue Here are some things you should absolutely avoid when choosing your next monologue (by Jim Webb) Are you looking for a new monologue? Don’t…

    The Push Strategy vs. The Pull Strategy

    The Push Strategy vs. The Pull Strategy What if you, as an actor, didn’t wait for the market to demand your acting services? (by Carmichael Phillips) “My career began the day I left…

  • Ad

  • 7 Basic Facts about Stella Adler

    7 Basic Facts About Stella Adler Stella Adler left behind a powerful legacy, inspiring a who’s who of iconic actors (by Carmichael Phillips) Stella Adler (February 10, 1901- December 21, 1992) may have…

    “Tenacity is almost more important than talent” (Mark Hamill)

    “Tenacity is almost more important than talent” (Mark Hamill) (Arranged by AM staff) Actor Mark Hamill has a face most Star Wars fans would instantly recognize, even though he does some of his…

    Don’t Panic! It’s Just a Redirect.

    Don’t Panic! It’s Just a Redirect. 5 Things You Can Do to Reduce the Fear of the Dreaded Redirect (By Jim Webb) Human beings didn’t always dominate the Earth. Once upon a time,…

  • Ad

  • Actor Stories: How Rashida Jones Almost Gave Up on Acting

    Actor Stories: How Rashida Jones Almost Gave Up on Acting ‘It felt like a waste of time to keep doing this over and over again’ (by Carmichael Phillips) Ok, fine! Rashida Jones’ entertainment…

    “Don’t be a one-trick pony” (Christian Bale)

    “Go for new tricks. Don’t be a one-trick pony” (Christian Bale) (Arranged by Carmichael Phillips) In an interview with the Oral History of Hollywood, actor Christian Bale had an interesting take on the…

    5 Great New Year’s Resolutions for Actors

    5 Great New Year’s Resolutions for Actors Here are some great New Year’s resolutions you should strive for, if you haven’t already (by James Webb) We are a few weeks into the new…

    10 Reasons You Didn’t Book the Role You Should Have Booked

    10 Reasons You Didn’t Book the Role You Should Have Booked There are countless potential reasons why you didn’t book the role you thought surely you were going to book. Let’s just start…

    “Listen and React” (Michael Caine)

    Michael Caine’s Greatest Advice to Film Actors: Listen and React “Listening is really what acting is all about, for movies. It’s not like the theatre. It’s an entirely different situation.” “When I was…

  • Ad

  • What is the “Repetition Exercise”?

    What is the “Repetition Exercise”? There are several objectives that the Repetition Exercise seeks to achieve. Chief among these is to increase the actor’s reliance on their instincts. (by Tonya Tannenbaum) The “Repetition…

    “Education is so essential” (Jake Gyllenhaal)

    Education is Essential “Education is so essential, because there’s no way of knowing what good material is, or knowing if a story is original, or knowing what makes a story original, or know…

    5 Basic Facts about Sanford Meisner

    5 Basic Facts about Sanford Meisner Though he died in 1997, his work continues to live on… (by Carmichael Phillips) Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905 – February 2, 1997) had a profound impact…

  • Ad

  • That Time I Crashed an Audition, and Lived to Tell About It!

    That Time I Crashed an Audition, and Lived to Tell About It! Don’t try this at home, kids! (The Anonymous Actor) Don’t try this at home, kids. This maneuver is only for the…

    “Do you want to be an actor or do you want to be a star or a celebrity?” (Don Cheadle)

    “Do you want to be an actor or do you want to be a star or a celebrity?” (Don Cheadle) (Arranged by Carmichael Phillips) You probably know Don Cheadle from his starring role…

    Before You Blame Your Agent….

    Before You Blame Your Agent… Because, it’s not always your agent’s fault (By Jim Webb) You’re not getting enough auditions. Your friends are auditioning like crazy, while you rarely get any. The knee-jerk…

    “To be an interesting actor, you must be authentic” (Sanford Meisner)

    “To be an interesting actor – hell, to be an interesting human being – you must be authentic and for you to be authentic you must embrace who you really are, warts and…

    3 Important Questions to Answer Before Your Next Headshot Photoshoot

    3 Important Questions to Answer Before Your Next Headshot Photoshoot Remember, the goal of a headshot is not just to produce a pretty looking headshot (by Jim Webb) Before you go out and…

  • Ad

  • The Callback Checklist

    The Callback Checklist Check these items off your list before you go in for your next callback (by Carmichael Phillips) Are you ready for your next callback? Check these items off your list…

    Why Building Relationships with Casting Directors is So Important

    Why Building Relationships with Casting Directors is So Important One of the best ways to improve your odds is to emphasize relationship-building as a core part of your strategy for success (by Carmichael…

    “You can’t rely on anyone to hand you anything in this business. Ever! So, just be creative.” (Joe Manganiello)

    “You can’t rely on anyone to hand you anything in this business. Ever! So, just be creative.” “So many times I meet people who [ask me], you know, ‘do you have any advice…

  • Ad

  • What is the “Private Moment Exercise”?

    What is the “Private Moment Exercise”? The concentration that it takes to have a private moment in public, empowers the actor to bring a higher level of concentration to a character (by Tonya…

    Funny Feel-Facts, Part II

    Funny Feel-Facts, Part II (by Carmichael Phillips) Here are 5 more feel-facts about acting I’ve uncovered. Part 1 of my Feel-Facts series brought some laughs and inflamed some tensions, so I thought I’d…

    3 Reasons Why It Sucks to Do Student Films

    3 Reasons Why It Sucks to Do Student Films Yep. Sometimes they really do suck! (by Carmichael Phillips) Alright. Let’s light this candle! We’ve already given you the lowdown on how student films…

    “No amount of failure…can dissuade a determined actor.” (Susan Saint James)

    “Through my own experiences and achievements, I have found that no amount of encouragement, help, or advice can make an unmotivated person a star, while at the same time, no amount of failure,…

    Set Aside One Day Each Week for Your Acting Business

    Set Aside One Day Each Week for Your Acting Business How setting aside an entire day can improve your acting business (by Jim Webb) The #actorslife is a hectic one. Between your survival…

    How to Turn Your Audition Trash into Audition Treasure

    How to Turn Your Audition Trash into Audition Treasure What if you used every bad audition as a kind of audition technique class? (by Carmichael Phillips) Let’s say, your recent audition was an…

    What is “Type”?

    What is “Type”? You have to know exactly what you’re selling in order to consistently make the sale (by Tonya Tannenbaum) An actor’s “type” generally refers to the category or categories that the…

    “The actor must constantly respond to stimuli that are imaginary.” (Lee Strasberg)

    “The human being who acts is the human being who lives. That is a terrifying circumstance. Essentially, the actor acts a fiction, a dream; in life, the stimuli to which we respond are…