The Innocence of Actors

September 24, 2012

Anna Gurji said, " It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all."

With violent protests still raging across the Middle East and throughout the world, the furor over the viral video promo, Innocence of Muslimsshows no signs of abating. The socio-political implications of this film are far-reaching and very complex, but the implications for you as an actor are fairly straightforward. It is clear the actors involved in this project were unaware of its actual content and subject matter. Indeed, the film’s participants have filed a collective action against the producers alleging they were misled, and had no idea of the film’s true meaning. This is a problem.

So, as an actor, how can you avoid this kind of potentially disastrous situation? First of all, when you are considering involvement in a project, you need to see the entire script. This way you can assess the film’s content and decipher its overall message–and decide if you want to be a participating player. Now, it’s true there are projects in which its producers refuse to share the script in its entirety because they want to conceal a top-secret plot twist or surprise ending. In such cases, that’s when you ask to see the filmmakers’ previous work, and punch up the production company on IMDb. If you’re still feeling reticent, you might want to pass–as your spider senses may be telling you something important. But if the risk seems worth the reward, go the extra mile and call the production office; or better yet, stop on by and get a sense of the people with which you’re dealing. Do every bit of research you possibly can; this is your career and it’s worth the effort. Listen, bad things happen all the time, any one of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow; the difference is, if you look both ways before crossing the street, your chances of getting run over decrease significantly.

If amateurs made highly controversial independent movies way back in the days before the Internet’s existence, such films would have been like the proverbial tree falling in the woods. With the Internet changing the world in new and unexpected ways, actors find themselves in unchartered territory–and are now required to do additional homework and be more cautious.