Great actors come in all shapes and sizes. It is a fact however, that many of the most famous and successful actors happen to be short. Al Pacino (5'6), for example, played the legendary role of Tony Montana, a ruthless gangster. Sylvester Stallone (5'8) played Rambo, a machine gun touting warrior. No one questioned his masculinity. That list goes on - Robert De Niro (5'8"), Tom Cruise (5'6"), Dustin Hoffman (5'5") and Ben Stiller (5'6), are all great examples of short male actors with long successful careers of playing lead roles. On the contrary, there are plenty of great actors who are tall. Clint Eastwood, Vince Vaughan and Brendan Frasier all come to mind. As far as box office numbers go it is clear that being short actor in Hollywood is not as disadvantageous as it is socially off-screen.
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What about actors who take on roles in which their character has a significant height difference from themselves? Can a short person for example play a tall person? This is what former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe thinks:
"Can you play a really f***ing tall person?’ No, obviously not. [laughs]"
How are them apples? What if Radcliffe was asked whether the inverse was true? Based on his logic, wouldn't that also mean that a tall person has no business playing a short person on camera? Apparently not, because Hugh Jackman is 6'2" and nobody complained when he played Wolverine, who according to every comic book ever released is supposed to be a compact 5'3". What about 5'10 David Oyelowo? No one seemed to have a problem when he played 5'6 civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Then of course there was 6' Chadwick Boseman who played the influential godfather of soul James Brown, a man who in real life was six inches shorter than Boseman at 5'6.
6'2 Hugh Jackman played the role of a 5'3 character in 'Wolverine' | Source: Wiki Commons
Daniel Radcliffe's views are not unique, though. There was public outcry when Daniel Craig was selected to play the legendary James Bond. Craig at 5'10, cannot be classified as short; he's spot-on average height. However, he wasn't tall enough according to the public. James Bond is supposed to be 6'2. Anything less apparently won't do. Double standard much? Daniel Craig is 4" shorter than the fictional character James Bond, and that is a serious problem which requires public backlash. Hugh Jackman is 11" taller than Wolverine, but that's completely fine. No hate mail needed. A lot of people got upset when Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher also. The Reacher character is supposed to 6'5. Eleven inches in the opposite direction apparently won't work.
See, according to Radcliffe and mainstream society:
Tall actor playing short person = Good
Short actor playing tall person = Unacceptable
And most people accept this as the natural order of things. It's "evolution". No double standard noted and no need to call foul.
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Daniel Radcliffe is a very successful actor. Being a celebrity means having a powerful platform which can be used to inspire and motivate. Him being 5'5, part of that star power would serve as a reminder that a man can be successful at any size regardless of what society thinks. His views regarding height as it applies to acting tell a different story however. His statement is garmin-like at best; uninspiring, and somewhat self-loathing. It strongly suggests that he might not be comfortable being a short guy, even with all of his success. Success that many people dream about, tall, short and all sizes in between.
When asked if he would consider playing the role of a tall guy, this is what he had to say:
"I couldn’t play something I wouldn’t take myself seriously in."
Hugh Jackman never said that he can't take himself seriously when he plays Wolverine. Does Radcliffe wonder how that can be? Not likely. Guys like Radcliffe will not do anything to fight heightist attitudes. Acting like a clown and putting himself down in order to get the approval of society only makes heightism prevail.
Many took issue with 5'6 Tom Cruise playing 6'5 Jack Reacher | Source: Wiki Commons
What truly matters? The talent of an actor is what matters most when it comes to being able to pull off a part. Of course, there are limitations. An extremely tall person would have a hard time playing a short person where their height defines that character. (i.e. Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings, for example). The same holds true in reverse (i.e. you probably wouldn't get Peter Dinklage to play Andre The Giant). That said, complaining because the actor that plays James Bond is only 5'10" is petty.
How many tall actors would have been able to be as intimidating as Al Pacino was in Scarface? Not many. If you want to be an actor, don't be discouraged by the type of comments that people with a poor opinion of themselves make. Watch the best movies of all time instead and be inspired by the fact that nearly all of the actors that appear in those movies are were able to pull off their roles by their sheer talent.
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