Stars could easily be considered as the main driving force behind the film industry, and what keeps it continuously fresh and successful. A star is viewed as much more than just an actor or actress in a film, and when that the star status is granted, they become and idol, whom people adore and worship and which production companies use as a marketing tool that they feed off in order to make as much money as possible out of whatever is the latest star phenomenon.
As Christine Gledhill’s star theory suggests, stars act as a major factor in the capital value of production companies and for the film industry in general. Hiring popular actors to star in films reduces the risk of loss for companies and even just the name of the star being advertised in the film will increase the monetary value. This goes hand in hand with audience, who are the people who feel they can relate to stars through their performances in films, and will go to see films purely down to the fact that their favourite actor or actress is involved. In relation to Gledhill’s theory it is both the audience and the stars themselves that help to create a construct for stars. For the audience, the stars persona is often portrayed in films. It is through their acting and performances that stars make an emotional connection with the audience and what makes people keep coming back to see them again. The construct of a star is often created both on screen and off, in the case of Marilyn Monroe; it was her often-typecast roles, highly publicized personal life and circumstantial death, that led to her iconic star status and what made her a symbol for sex, glamour and tragedy. Her legacy is what we would call a star phenomenon, as audiences will forever watch her films and remember her name and the film industry will forever use her as a cultural symbol.
The upcoming star Jennifer Lawrence is an example of how audiences become obsessed and adoring for a star and how stars are becoming more and more of an asset to the film industry. After her big break in the Hunger Games, she went on to star in Oscar nominated movies such as Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Her roles see her reprising similar characteristics, which involve intense performances and dry humour. It is these traits that she adopts in films that cause audiences to become fans of her and will now follow her on a journey as an actress. From the film industry’s perspective, she is seen as a fresh, upcoming actress whose off-screen persona shows her as being down to earth and not overcome by the excess and glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle. Her actions at awards ceremonies such as wearing a ‘little mermaid inspired’ dress and falling over when accepting her award, have caused uproar on social media sites and it is these off-screen actions that are expanding her stardom, highlighting just how important stars are for audiences and the film industry.
Some stars are also invaluable to the shaping of the film industry and have had revolutionary impacts on cinema. A major star responsible for many aspects of the film industry is Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin created a way to connect with audiences, by inventing his most recognized character, The Tramp. Chaplin was genuinely able to give pleasure and happiness to audiences through his comedy, whilst addressing the social issues at the time, especially throughout WW2, where he became a universal icon, and the first real ‘international star’. In terms of effects on the film industry, Chaplin contributed largely; his move from theatre to cinema created much more interest in film at the time, and it was his comic genius on screen that made film the dominant medium for people’s entertainment. Chaplin was also one of the first stars, to truly express his views on much of social, economic and political concerns throughout his career; this can be seen in Modern Times and The Great Dictator. It was Chaplin defiance when expressing his views on the big screen, which created the next point in Gledhill’s star theory, the way in which audiences view stars as deviants.
Stars are often portrayed in the media to live lives of excess and it’s the ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ cliché that is the recurring theme within it all. The more audiences hear about the exploits of stars, often, the more interest. Their actions become attributive to the personalities and give them more identity. An example of this would be James Dean, who became a symbol for disillusioned teenagers and rebellious youth. Dean was reportedly difficult to work and frequently had mood swings, the controversies throughout his life are part of his cult status, and for the audience he has become not only a symbol of rebellion but also an inspiration for it.
To conclude, it seems clear that having stars as been essential for the film industry, certain films would not have achieved the success that they did had a particular actor or actress not been in it, and many actors and actresses would not be the stars they are today if it were not for certain films. For the audience, a film may be mentioned, and it is star of the film that first comes to mind, and if a star is mentioned it is a film that comes to mind. Al Pacino was originally dismissed for the role of Michael in the Godfather, Paramount executives did not want him as he was relatively unknown, however when you watch the film now you couldn’t imagine anyone else in that role. This proves that the star is one of the most important factors of the film industry. A film can be brilliantly written, brilliantly directed and brilliantly acted but if there is no star, the audience may feel no emotion and no connection; therefore what would be the point.