"Natural" is in as Hollywood loses favor with "enhanced" actors

(NBC) - When big Hollywood stars decide to "freshen up," there's not much anyone can do about it. They are still the people the studios bet on and if they want to beat back time, well, at least the tabloids rejoice.

But the actors who surround the stars still have to look like real people and, unfortunately, in L.A. ---cliche as it may sound -- actors who look like real people are getting harder to find.

If you're the star of a film like Paramount's "Iron Man 2" reality is purely the director's vision. But the last thing a film-maker wants surrounding the star, Robert Downey Jr., for instance, is actors who distract from the star, or the story. Supporting players cannot look like a "nip-tuck" post-op patient. If they don't look real, they usually don't get the gig.

Casting Director Pam Gilles has been forced to cast a wider net to find actors who look normal. Gilles says she's constantly surprised when a potential client walks through the door not look anything like his or her 8x10 head shots.

"You sit there and someone's come in and you're looking at their lips and going, hmm? What happens then is that becomes the focus and you can't have that in your film," Gilles said, because that takes away from the focus of the character.

Some Australian actors Gilles met at a casting call this weekend have a different take on the Botox-Collagen band wagon.

"America is much more crazy, kind of, focused so one person does it then a big trend starts so everybody starts to do it," said actor Tracy Alexander. She says Australia is not as pop-culture oriented.

"I like to believe all my wrinkles, my smile creases and my imperfections are a great asset for my characters," actor Dennis Kreusler added.

The Botox backlash has casting agents searching for those who have not been bitten by the Hollywood bug of perceived perfection, people who still look like someone in the real world the audience might really know, someone who will stand out in the crowd not because of a procedure but because of their personality.

That could be bad news for actors who have already tried to become their idealized selves. As one casting agent warned, if you change yourself today, the "you" of yesterday may be what a director will want tomorrow.

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