Lead actor/actress VS Supporting actor/actress

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On what basis, Chris Hemsworth is considered as a Lead actor in the movie Rush?

In the movie, both characters have equal importance and both narrated the story in equal measure and occupied same amount of screen space, how come Daniel Brühl is a supporting actor in the movie Rush?

I’m very intrigued to know on what basis Leading Actor and Supporting Actor is categorized in Hollywood.

Best Answer

In the early days of Hollywood, at the Academy awards, the Academy members could choose whether they thought an actor’s performance was leading or supporting. This led to an interesting scenario in 1945, where an actor was nominated for the leading and supporting Oscars for the exact same role (Going My Way).

After this the Academy changed the rulings and studios were given a much larger part in the process. Studios now give their opinions as to which actor in the movie is the lead, which is supporting, etc. Studios can also take into consideration things like competition and choose the actor most “likely” to win in a particular category.

A great example of this is Kate Winslet in (The Reader), where she won a Golden Globe for Supporting Actress and an Oscar for Leading Actress.

So from the Academy Awards side of it, it is largely down to the studio. As to outside of the Academy Awards and looking just at Hollywood in general, other factors can come into consideration such as the fame of the star.

In the movie you cited, Rush, there were two potential leads – Helmsworth and Bruhl. But Helmsworth would arguably be the bigger box office draw. He’s a good looking man, he’s starred in the big block buster movies Thor and Avengers and thus the studio may have felt he would be a better fit for the Leading Role as he would be easier to promote and market.

This article is also a fascinating read: Why Names Rarely Match Up With Faces on Movie Posters.

To summarise its contents, it effectively discusses how some actors end up fighting quite bitterly over who gets “top billing” for a movie. An example they give is The Towering Inferno, where it was decided on all the movie posters that Paul Newman’s name would be “highest” on the photo, but Steve McQueen’s name would be the most “left” (as most people read posters either top to bottom or left to right). This way, they both could be promoted as leads:

Towering Inferno

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What is the difference between lead actor and supporting actor?

Lead: The main character in a film. Supporting Lead: A smaller part then the lead that still plays an intricate part of the story. Supporting: A character that simply pushes the story forward for the sake of the lead or supporting lead characters. The equivalent of a television co-star.

What is the difference between a lead and supporting role?

Lead actors carry a film, television show or stage production on the weight of their popularity. Supporting actors are those who play the lesser roles in a show. They may be playing minor parts or character roles. Most of the time, actors need to audition and complete a script reading for their desired part.

What is a lead actress?

A leading actor, leading actress, or simply lead (/\u02c8li\u02d0d/), plays the role of the protagonist of a film, television show or play. The word lead may also refer to the largest role in the piece, and leading actor may refer to a person who typically plays such parts or an actor with a respected body of work.

What are supporting actors called?

A supporting actor/actress can also be known as a 'sidekick' or 'the antagonist'.

OSCARS : Best Supporting Roles (2000-2020) - TRIBUTE VIDEO

Sources: Stack Exchange - This article follows the attribution requirements of Stack Exchange and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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