There’s nothing wrong with actors making the switch from the big screen in cinemas to relatively smaller screens at home. A well-written television series attracts not only viewers but also actors. The allure of starring in television shows has hit top actors such as Matthew McConaughey, William H Macy, Don Cheadle, Jessica Lange and Vera Farmiga. But why the sudden rush to television and online series?
Televisions series can promise consistency. Television directors, writers and actors can also grow with a series. Celebrated directors such as Steven Spielberg have teamed up with networks such as CBS to create the upcoming series Extant about an astronaut returning home, starring Halle Berry.
In an interview for The Hollywood Reporter, Berry stated: “I’m always on the lookout for amazing roles, and when you see material that contains this strong of auspices, nuance and complexity, it compels me to run toward it no matter the medium. For five months a year I’ll get to live with and play this incredibly intelligent and vulnerable woman. And for the remainder of the year, I’ll continue to look for other roles that move me as deeply as this one.” Extant will air on CBS this summer. Big names like Berry’s in a television series can also guarantee numbers.
More than ten million people turn their televisions on and tune into ABC to watch Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in the political drama Scandal. Fans want to see their favourite actors every day and that is what a great television series can do. We fall in love with the characters and yearn to watch them develop with each episode. Now with online access to almost any show or films, sites like Netflix have even created their own series, such as House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey. In an interview about the series, Spacey commented on his reason for accepting the role as Frank Underwood in this political drama: “What was great was that they were the only network that said “You don’t have to do a pilot”,” he said. “David Fincher and I really didn’t want to do a pilot, because when you do, you’re kind of obligated to spend 45 minutes establishing all of the characters. And we didn’t want to do that. We just wanted to get on with telling a story, and tell a story over a long period of time.” Fincher, a film director who worked with Spacey on the 1995 film Se7en, serves as one of the executive producers.
A television show can be a reminder to viewers of the talent some actors have been hiding for years. Jessica Lange’s last movie before her roles on the anthology show - American Horror Story aired on FX – wasn’t since 2005. She has starred in the last three seasons of the horror show since 2011 and now has even returned to the big screen. Scott Wilson took on the role of the wise Hershel Greene in the highly praised television adaptation of the zombie apocalypse comic The Walking Dead. Wilson’s repertoire includes more than 50 feature films since the 1960s and had also worked in television, but his portrayal as Hershel has allowed a much younger generation to observe a master of his art.
Television series keep us entertained. Top actors alternating between a series and feature films just makes everything more interesting. With more of these top actors, directors and writers making the switch, the better quality television we’ll have.