Am I talking about being a pastor? I suppose I could be, in some cases. But no, I'm talking about being an actor.
Some actors work very hard at their crafts. They research their roles, they do a lot of off-camera and off-hours work, and they perform with focus and dedication. They deserve respect for such effort (Proverbs 22:29).
And then again there are Liam Neeson and Michael Gambon.
Beginning with the latter, when Richard Harris died, Gambon was tapped to take over the iconic role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise. Nice work if you can get it, eh? Guaranteed employment for years, higher visibility than ever before in one's career, every movie a certain financial success — sweet.
So what do you suppose you do first? Well, given that the movies are based on books read and loved by hundreds of thousands (millions?), obviously you begin there — by reading the books. Who is this character? After all, you're following the performance of Richard Harris, one of the greatest actors in recent years — and one who, himself, visibly showed the kind of discipline I described when he took on A Man Called Horse.
Now, Harris reportedly did not read the books, but he must have listened to someone who did, because his Dumbedore was close to J. K. Rowling's depiction.
boasts about not reading the books (warning: spoilers at that link, if you haven't read all seven books). And boy oh boy, does it show. I saw his first performance before having read the books, and thought it better than Harris, because he was more vivid and emotional and physical. After I read the books I realized that this is entirely, completely wrong, and ruins the emotional impact of future developments. Rowling's Dumbledore is never shaken (nor does he shake!) nor upset... which is why, when he does become upset, and when he visibly comes to pieces in his final scenes in Half-blood Prince, it is moving and upsetting. So badly does Gambon misunderstand Dumbledore that he thinks he is "goading" Draco atop the tower, rather than reaching out to him.
But Gambon is not particularly invested in this movie that will make so much money for him. For some reason, he doesn't even wear Dumbledore's half-moon spectacles. So detached is he that he falls asleep filming a particularly moving scene. In fact, he was reportedly angry at being made to say lines taken directly from the book, and was allowed (never having read it!) to rewrite them.
But what is it to him? Words on a page. A pay-check.
Did he? You judge:
Aslan symbolises a Christlike figure, but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries. That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.Yeah, right. Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Perez Hilton, Oprah, Michael Moor... whatever.
It's a foolish, stupid statement on so many levels that one swiftly runs out of fingers. For one thing, it will surely damage the enthusiasm for the movie (coming out Friday!) of lovers of Lewis' books to know that nobody making the movie managed to explain Neeson's role to him. If the filmmaker's didn't get that Aslan represented Christ and only Christ, in this most specifically Christian of the books, how badly will they have bobbled the movie?
For another, to lump Christ/Mohammed/Buddha together is like saying, "I like good movies — you know, like Sophie's Choice, Howard the Duck, Schindler's List, Ishtar, Saw. Like those."
The lazy-minded may prefer to give Neeson a pass simply because he uttered the magic words "that's what he means for me." But is reality that plastic? Can I get in to see Neeson's movie if my two pennies "mean" ten dollars "for me"? Will they give me popcorn for a bit of lint because it "means" five dollars "for me"?
I don't see the need to cover for someone who's simply, at best, "slack in his work" (Proverbs 18:9).
Does it mean something for Neeson that Aslan meant an exclusive Christ-figure for C. S. Lewis who, after all, created the character? This isn't exactly rocket-science. The reading-level isn't even that advanced.
Goodness, actors have a bad enough reputation among sentient beings as it is.
It doesn't help for folks like Neeson to underscore it so roundly.
(However, I'll give them this: as far as I know, unlike Brando, at least they memorize their lines.)