Here’s How a Person’s Height Matters in Hollywood Roles

Tom Cruise for President

The answer to this question really depends on who a person asks since some would say that yes, height does matter in a big way, no pun intended, while others might say that no, of course, it doesn’t matter since talent is what directors really look for, not who’s taller and who’s shorter. The most confounding answer is that they’re all right since size does and doesn’t matter in Hollywood as it’s kind of a conditional thing. One memory springs to mind when talking about size, and that’s from the movie Be Cool with Danny DeVito and John Travolta, among many other notable stars, when Travolta’s character is speaking to DeVito’s and the mention that DeVito will be playing the part of Johnny Cash comes up. Now a lot of people might not know this, but Johnny Cash was 6’2″, which is well over a foot taller than DeVito, who stands at 4’10”. That’s a size discrepancy that any number of cameras and a variety of angles couldn’t really cover up since not only would it be unable to work due to the camera angles, most people know by now that DeVito is a very short guy, and have enjoyed his acting for that reason in particular since he’s usually played regular roles that are adapted to a man his size. But despite that it was a fictional character attempting to play a real-life character, it was a bit ridiculous.

Size does matter on occasion when casting a role, but as it’s been seen in many movies, director’s don’t always place size over talent since if that were the case then Jack Reacher would have had a different lead actor considering that Tom Cruise isn’t nearly as tall as the lead was expected to be, but he played the role in a way that the director wanted to see. Another good example, a great example actually, is Wolverine in the X-Men movies. The comic book character isn’t even close to six feet tall, but Hugh Jackman is over six feet tall. Many fans noticed this and several other discrepancies when it came to how one character after another in the X-Men movies was portrayed. But height wasn’t considered to be a huge deal after Jackman managed to get going since he took on the role and made it work in such a great way that people stopped caring that he wasn’t as short as one of their favorite heroes was supposed to be. The thing is that talent will tend to trump the expectations of size a lot of times, but there are plenty of tricks that have been used to maintain the illusion of size since smaller men and women have the unfortunate burden of having to look bigger on screen than they actually are.

Size is something that might keep some actors out of certain roles so long as another talented actor can be found, but it’s not necessarily going to be used as a dividing line in every possible case. It’s true that for some roles size does matter since let’s be honest, for Colossus in Deadpool a big guy was needed, even if a lot of it was motion capture, much as it was for the character of Thanos in the Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame. Sometimes motion capture is needed, but sometimes size can be a huge advantage as well. For instance, big guys like Roger Maillet and Hafbor Julius Bjornsson have found work in the past in movies such as Brick Mansions and the Game of Thrones series respectively, as big guys were needed for the role of being the muscle. In some cases, smaller people are needed for various reasons as well, which means that when size and talent can come together and become a package deal, then a director is bound to pounce on that chance and try to make it happen, but otherwise, they’ll end up trying to get anyone that can fit the bill and isn’t so far outside the realm of feasibility when it comes to the role that they can make it work. The many tricks and angles that can still be used don’t really fool people as much any longer since the age of information brought on by Google has kind of ruined the chance of being able to fool the audience any longer.

A person’s height usually only matters if they’re so far out of the parameters that are desired for a role that there’s no way to make it work. For instance, casting someone that stands close to seven tall as a Hobbit wouldn’t work as well since there would be a ton of work that needed to be done and it’s still likely that people wouldn’t buy it. Size is easy enough for some folks to get around, but it still matters in show business, but not so much that it will keep truly talented people from various roles.


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