The outsourcing of American jobs has been a tragic development of modern globalization. It began with the Auto and Steel Industry which transplanted American blue-collared jobs to Mexico and Central America where labor was cheap and employer based health care was nonexistent. Then outsourcing struck American IT jobs and while company stocks were driven up, IT white-collared jobs were driven to massive call centers in places like Bombay and Bangladesh. Now sadly globalization and outsourcing has saturated the casting rooms where executives search to fill the no-collared jobs of Hollywood.
Most forms of outsourcing in movie casting, when it comes to the American film industry should be celebrated. One can still recall the dark days of film's Golden Age where Charleton Heston would be cast as a Mexican or Charlie Chan would be played by a series of non-descript white actors in yellowface. Even into the Seventies this feeling continued with Studio management, who believed the viewing public was blissfully unaware that their favorite Asian Kung Fu master was played by David Carradine a white guy who squinted his eyes for 3 seasons. Thankfully this backwards and downright bigoted casting has been discarded. When American movie directors go for authenticity in their films everyone wins. Authenticity in films is an end unto itself and should be celebrated.
But the kind of outsourcing I am referring to has more to do with America’s inability to create a new generation of “tough guy” leading men to play American roles. And I’m talking about American-American roles, the kind of roles directors thirty years ago would have thought of Steve Mcqueen or Chuck Bronson for. American roles like, oh say, American cowboys or American POWs or American detectives or American superheroes. Tough guy roles. Roles that demand a kind of blending of bold bravado and strong silent confidence that the American movie going public demands. But these roles aren’t filled by American actors anymore. In the Hollywood of today these roles have been outsourced to places like Australia, South Africa and Wales. Places where actors have cockney accents so thick one could never envision a scenario in which Hollywood directors would cast them as an All-American Joe.
Now-a-days directors look to the Russell Crowe’s, the Christian Bale’s, the Colin Farrell’s and to a lesser extent the Hugh Jackman’s and Guy Pierce’s of the world to fill the American “tough guy” roles of today. Is it that these actors from the far corners of the old British Empire play “American” better than their U.S. counterparts? Or is it simply that the American marketplace can no longer be relied upon to produce actors to fill these “tough guy” parts?
Typical Hollywood meeting (Present day):
Studio Boss: “We just optioned a dynamite script about a lone vigilante cowboy in the 1870’s riding the plains exacting revenge on the train robbers who killed his family. So, who can we cast in the lead, we’re looking for the Marlboro man here people.”
Studio Exec 1: “Topher Grace has shown interest.”
Studio Boss: “Pass.”
Studio Exec 2: “I can get Jake Gyllenhaal to work for scale”
Studio Boss: “This isn’t a gay cowboy flick.”
Studio Exec 1: “Tobey Maguire’s agent says he’s available.”
Studio Boss: “Eeeww.”
Studio Exec 2: “Ben Affleck’s been hanging around the lobby for the last couple of days.”
Studio Boss: “Enough, just get me Eric Bana, he’s already tied into the studio for the Captain America movie that we're releasing next summer.”