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16 July 2014

The Jeff Effect The perils of typecasting:

Part of what I think of as a great feat acting is the ability of disappear into a role. I find it continually amazing how little things can manipulate one into thinking someone is likable, attractive or creepy, but some people, despite seeming to do everything right in transforming into a different character stubbornly remind me of one character.[More:]

Case in point: Richard Coyle. I've never seen him play anything like his character Jeff in Coupling ever again, but goddammit if I can ever not think, "It's Jeff!" every time I see him.

Outside of stars and people who always play the same kind of character, this isn't usually a problem, and it's always fun when someone uses this to their benefit, like Chris Pratt, I'm just wondering why this is. Is it because he never looks very different, even if he sounds, moves and dresses different? Could it be solved with a mustache and a dye job?

Does anyone else have this problem with a particular actor? I know almost every one calls Ted Levine Buffalo Bill, but that's like a term of affection instead of the fact they think of him only as that character, like calling Tim Curry Dr. Frank-N-Furter or Milla Jovovich Leeloo. It's also distinct from always seeing Angelina Jolie or John Malkovich as themselves putting on a show, but they always usually look like themselves as well.
Whoa, I swear I hit the more inside. Oopsie.
posted by ethylene 16 July | 13:22
Here's another example to make this even wordier: if I see Franka Potente, I'll recognize her as being from Run Lola Run at first but then she's her character or, say, Spud from Trainspotting. I don't keep thinking they're Lola and Spud, but for some reason I've seen Richard Coyle in a bunch of different things recently and I keep thinking of his ultra creepy Jeff things. It could be the creep factor, a lingering issue with men who've played banal sexual creeps. I do also have a thing with straight men who have very convincingly played affecting gay characters who I can only think of as straight after long exposure to them playing straight characters, yet part of me still thinks, "I liked you better when you were gay."

I'm the first person to point out that someone is affecting a character in any kind of art when someone tries to leach bits onto the artist, which is why this kind of bugs me. There's something childish and idiotic to me when someone assumes one an only write or act, etc. from their own experience. Not that some people don't only care about things/do things/etc. that have to do with them, but if you're not locked into an adolescent rooster brained "everyone really thinks like me or is weird" mentality-- I just want to know if other people have this issue, specifically with Richard Coyle and Coyle-like characters, whomever they may be.
posted by ethylene 16 July | 13:42

Yes, a memorable actor.

I'm sure there are whole theories among actors how to break free from being typecast. The most obvious way is of how actors who are remarkably pretty take up roles where they're horribly thin, fat, misshapen etc.

I guess part of it is having huge exposure with one role and whether you'll have another role with similar exposure to overlay on the first image. If not there's just this one after image burnt into the brains of your audience.

Btw Steven Moffat wrote Couplings. I didn't realise that.
I guess that would almost make me watch Dr Who.
posted by jouke 16 July | 14:49
The thing is I really like Richard Coyle and I remember thinking at the time, "I really wish he'd do something that was not Jeff." He purposely left the show to avoid this problem and is in lots of other stuff.

I was thinking this might be very much my problem but apparently a lot of people are affected by the Jeff Effect in particular.

I use to be cursed with a brutally encyclopedic memory for actors that I seem to be mostly relieved of as now I rarely even get that "I know I've seen this person" feeling anymore and just look it up to my surprise. I didn't know I'd seen so much of Benedict Cumberbatch until Sherlock, or Aden Young, etc. but they effectively disappear into a role. So is it more him, me, or this character?

I wasn't convinced Leonardo DiCaprio could really act until The Departed.

Kramer is an extreme character but Michael Richards didn't do much else, but i still don't think he's Kramer.
Robert Sheenan was an extreme character on Misfits but I don't think of that when I see him.
It's not like Coupling is that old, so it's not like it's burned into some era nostalgia, but I don't do that with, say, Molly Ringwald.
I can't think of any other spot on examples of the Jeff Effect right now, perhaps thankfully.
posted by ethylene 16 July | 15:19
The theme for this week's Photo Friday is Birds. || How long has it been since we've had a