Actors and Actresses : Why In the USA Was There Massive Stigma Against TV Acting Unlike Rest of World?

Why In the USA Was There Massive Stigma Against TV Acting Unlike Rest of World?

It seems an echoed belief on the internet that TV was seen as the backwaters of the entertainment and that only the losers of the acting industry go to TV. That it was backup for former movie stars whose careers were stagnating, the last spot for people who could not launch a career in film and live theatre, and the starting point for people with minimal, if no prior professional acting experience, esp children.

And that for a long time acting on TV was so hilariously bad and that the gap with the acting of movies was very very wide. That the best TV actors were terrible if they tried feature length films or even just made for TV movies. And that the reason George Clooney was so significant to film history was that he was the first actor who came from a TV background to make it as a full time cinema actor in real Hollywood production and not just B movie roles as well as the biggest example of someone who made it to the top of the A List from the small screen…………

However someone sent me a PM in response to a post on Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Subforum on Reddit I participated in.

Saw your comments along with others about SMG not having a great career post-Buffy and how she attempted Hollywoods s well as comments on Boreanaz trying movies out….. So I had to send this.


A lot of old Telenovelas (in particular from Mexico and Argentina) had a lot of movie stars acting in them including a few A listers in the Latin America region and British TV even earlier than the Charlie's Angels day had some top actors star in it (esp since it seems in the UK there is no dividing line between TV, live theater, and cinema as there seems to be in North America)……..

I mean Timothy Dalton was the leading Shakespearan actor for a time in his career (not to mention he later became James Bond!) and he gives a phenomenal performance in the 1980s Jane Eyre TV show, giving the best Rochester ever and god even relative unknowns like Anthony Higgins gives outstanding performances in various BBC roles (just go watch The Eagle of the Ninth which is available in full). Higgins and other primary TV actors have no problem getting good careers in cinema even if they did not make the A list and actually do both full time with some adding live theater in between.

Don't get me started on nationally produced TV outside of the West such as Japan's Samurai epics and the various stuff that are government sponsored in Turkey even around the same time The Brady Bunch was running. The acting is Oscar worthy and A Listers in the countries were given roles.

Even strictly TV actors in many countries where there is a big gap in quality (esp writing) have acted in serious movie roles and gave great performances even being at B and sometimes D list act and its more common before the 90s to see TV actors outside of English speaking counties to become full time movie stars or even A Listers…..

I mean did you know Salma Hayek started out in the 80s as Telenovela actress before moving onto Dusk Till Dawn when she immigrated to the USA? It seems she and her fellow co-stars on these cheap productions had no problems moving onto to cinema full time and actually dd a mix of both serious films and soap opera TV.

And indeed many Latinas who immigrated to the USA in recent years and are now popular as move stars such as Ana De La Reguera all stared as popular Telenovela stars before moving primarily to cinema in their own country just like Salma did (though they still continued acting on TV shows before immigrating to the USA as seen with La Reguera).


I responded with a and he pointed me to an another conversation.



I'm 37 years old and can remember when television used to show stuff from before I was born quite regularly. I'm also in the middle of watching a series from 1991 called GBH and the acting in it is quite excellent.

Every era has "good" and "bad" acting. Nonetheless, I am suggesting that proceeding on the premise that the past was bad based on literally the worst shows on television from one culture only is extremely faulty.

Your responses strike me as fairly ignorant of anything beyond your immediate context, so let me help you out. In Britain and Europe, we actually have a much longer history of producing quality television than the USA. In Germany there is Heimat, Berlin Alexanderplatz, World on a Wire, and even network shows like Tatort. Britain has had countless, including its full Shakespeare revival from 78-85 and multiple 'TV play' strands, where the best writers from theatre and television would work with the best actors and directors that would go on to fame in cinema (Loach, Greengrass, Watkins, Clarke, Leigh, Frears, Kotcheff, Apted, Joffe, Ove). Poland produced Dekalog for approximately $10k per episode and it absolutely kills anything made today on practically every level.

If you want to argue that American network television has improved in some measure then go ahead, but that doesn't speak for the world. Personally I don't see a whole lot of difference between something like The Blacklist or Chicago Med and their antecedents in network crime and hospital dramas of yore, save the superficial aspects of technologically-enhanced production, the method of shooting and the era-specific conventions in performance style. Ultimately they're soapy, kitsch, and shot according to the standard rules (30 degree rule, 180 degree rule) of television shooting.

So I really have to ask……. Richard Burton not only acted in a few American TV films but miniseries was some of the main work he did in the UK after his rocky relationship with Liz (see my username!). Despite that, he was able to easily be casted in movies anytime he auditioned and he still remained a pick for more serious roles. Acting on TV at all did not hurt his movie career (even if he was already past his prime while he was doing TV stuff). It as just seen as another day's work according to his diaries in the same way he continued live theater productions to pay the bills.

So I'd have to ask. In addition to the two quoted texts examples and Richard Burton how come America had such a gigantic divide between TV and movies and even theatre before the 2000s? While in the rest of the world since the advent of Television in their specific countries, A Listers continue doing all 3 throughout their career and TV stars transition to primarily cinema all the time and even small time TV esp on genres seen as trash like teen soap operas and action superhero monster of the week act in real movies released in theaters and not just cheap daytime made-for-tv films and VHS B Movie releases?

I mean since I got the PM as a result of chatting on the subreddit of Buffy the Vampire Slayers, one of the lead stars of the show Anthony Head (Giles in Buffy) had done stageplays and or the bulk of his career actually acted in movies including serious roles and genres back in the UK for much o his acting resume before he came to America in 1997. His actual fame in the UK is not Buffy but a few BBC shows including Doctor Who and some local commercials.

Compare that to the rest of Buffy's main cast who were small time TV extras and support or models or even outright nobodies aside from Sarah Michelle Gellar herself and maybe Seth Green for the later seasons. And except for Anthony Head, Seth Green, Dave Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan they all practically struggled to have vibrant acting careers after Buffy (some of them like James Marsters focusing on endeavors outside of acting to continue their career elsewhere).

So I really have to ask this obsession of divide before HBO kicked off TV standards with The Sopranos? Even high budget production miniseries are not exempt from this in the pre-90s US TV industry. Aside from Peter O'Toole a lot of high budget production miniseries had to settle for full time movie actors who weren't on the A List or import British actors in. Perfect example is North and South which despite its cinema level production values settled for people who are still unknowns like James Read and had half the main cast as British actors. Even the mos famous name Patrick Swayze was seen mostly as a borderline twee B movie and proper Hollywood productions at the time.

Why did America stratify the TV and movie industry as well as stage plays? How come in the rest of the world even you have top bill local names like Toshiro Mifune and De La Reguera acting on TV alongside cinema and live stage performances?

How come TV acting was seen as something harmful to someone who is still at the early stages of his career in North American industries while for example in the UK small TV gigs and even doing full time acting on a few seasons is seen as nothing significant by itself in the UK and is done all the time by full time professional no-name movie actor swell beyond the B list and had done serious movies as well as full-time Shakespearan actors?

How come someone can do full time TV actin in a Latin American country for about yet transition to the A List no problem in not only their own country but even abroad? As seen with Salma Hayek (i was just shy of 10 years of her entry into acting via Telenovelas when she did Dusk Till Dawn and overnight catapulted into the A List of Hollywood)? Or even smaller names like Ana De La Reguera quickly entered primarily cinema profession without much difficulty in as little as 5 years after doing nothing but TV stuff?

Seeing how in the rest of the world it seems a systematic pattern that TV actors later on become movie actors and a noteworthy amount of A listers had their start on TV as well as country's top names doing a mix of film stage plays and television, why was North America the oddjob in this, creating a real divide between TV and cinema (and cinema and live theatre as well I might add)?

George Clooney's successful jump to full time movie actor and making it as an AAA list actor seems less impressive when you have guys like Ricky Gervais doing feature films released in theatres and Ian Mckellan juggling in TV,Theatre, and film productions and in at least 2 or 3 years of his career doing a mix of all 3 within a single year. So I have to ask why people jumping Clooney style to Hollywood was almost unheard off before 1995 and even today its still difficult to make the jump full time in the USA contrasted to the rest of the world?

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Re: Why In the USA Was There Massive Stigma Against TV Acting Unlike Rest of Wor

Actors Who Successfully Made the Jump from TV to Movies:

Pierce Brosnan
Bruce Willis
Roger Moore
Denzel Washington
Michelle Williams
Chris Pratt

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