Complications Ensue:
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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Q. I'm writing a script that features a real rock star (playing himself) as a fairly significant character. I have 3 or 4 other rock stars making appearances as themselves too. I would assume it would be hugely obvious to anybody reading it that the rock star I picked is a placeholder, and if he isn't available/interested, then we could always cast Rock Star B, C D or E. Is this troublesome or limiting in any way? Would people not be able to figure out it's a placeholder and say ahhhhh forget it your idea hinges on getting this specific guy? Or should I ditch using a known name of a real rock star and make up a fake rock star character? In my mind that would water things down too much.
You shouldn't use the name of a real rock star unless you actually have that rock star on board. And, really, even then, you shouldn't, unless you're writing a documentary. It's your job as a writer to create a character. If you write a script for Lady Gaga to play herself, people are going to bring their own ideas of who she is. Better to invent a Lady Gaga-esque character that you have made distinct and fresh and clever and above all, interestingly flawed. That brings the character to life on the page, and gives Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta something to play on the screen. (Because, of course, almost all rock stars are already consciously playing a character who is a version of themselves. Who's Lady Gaga when she's at home?) The way you've phrased your question, it sounds like you just want "a" rock star in your movie. That is the very definition of "watered down." Always create characters, even if you're writing real people.


(I'm the guy who asked the question)

Thanks again for taking the time to answer.

My thinking is/was: the script will be more interesting with real rock stars playing odd versions of themselves the way Curb your Enthusiasm delights us with Danson or Saget or Wanda Sykes (or whoever) playing odd versions themselves.

Didn't much of the magic of Being John Malkovich come from the real Malkovich playing a (flawed) version of himself that blew viewers' minds because it made a fictitious story collide with a real person?

But yes, I could totally create an over the top rock star character with truly unique idiosyncrasies far beyond Van Halen and the no brown M&Ms.

I must think about this some more. Thanks again.

By Blogger plar, at 12:40 PM  

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