Does Height Matter for Acting?
How tall do you have to be to be an actor?
(By Jim Webb)
Question: “I’m short. Will my height mean that I cannot get work as an actor?”
Answer: “A thousand times no, and occasionally, perhaps. But being short can also work to your benefit.”
If you’d like to know if your height will prevent you from becoming a successful actor, look no further than actor Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. You may know him as Tom Cruise.
Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars since the early 80’s, after his breakout role in Risky Business (1983). Since then, he has been box office gold, bringing in massive audiences for his films – Mission Impossible, A Few Good Men and Jerry Maguire – to name a few.
Yet, for all his success as a leading man, he stands no taller than 5’7. That’s a full two inches shorter than the average American man. This proves you don’t have to be tall to stand tall on the big screen.
But there are, indeed, rare instances where your height can play a factor in whether or not you get cast.
Here are a few:
#1: Playing opposite a taller actor or actress
(Photo: Anna Shvets | Pexels)
Your height can work for or against you if the character you’re are playing opposite from is already cast.
For example, if the leading lady has already been cast, and she’s 5’9, you may find it difficult to land the role of her husband, if you are only 5’8.
#2: Height-sensitive roles
Some roles are height-sensitive. They just require actors to be a minimum height.
For those roles, your height can act as a barrier. Think athlete roles, security guard or secret service agent. These roles naturally require actors who have a certain physical presence, rooted largely in their height and stature.
#3: Playing younger characters
(Photo: Samson Katt | Pexels)
Being a shorter actor is not without its advantages. Sometimes being shorter can actually work in your favor.
If you’re shorter, you can play younger characters for far longer than a taller actor can. If you’re 29-years-old with a baby face and a short frame, you can still successfully play an 17-year-old. But try doing that at 6’3!
The bottom line is that there are roles for actors of all shapes and sizes. While you might occasionally lose out on a role due to your height, you may also receive a role because of your height.
Don’t be insecure about being vertically challenged. On balance, it’s a push, casting wise. What matters more is whether you can act!
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