Created By: thewriterFebruary 2, 2012 Last Edited By: queenbriFebruary 28, 2012

Unnatural Actor

A filmed person can\'t act natural, They can\'t act like themselves.

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Trope
Do We Have This One? Up For Grabs
A documentary crew follows a character around because they're making a film and are trying to capture the couple's real life. The film crew asks the two to "Just act natural" and immediately Bob and Alice don't know how to do so. While under the camera's eye the two start trying to be the best that they can be, which results in them being completely artificial. They don't seem to understand that a documentary is unscripted and is supposed to be "real life." They may ask what their "character" should be doing in a scene or they ask to do "another take" when they stumble over their words. They may even ask "What's my line?" if they are too nervous to think. Maybe they aren't getting enough "screen-time" and their "character" needs a better personality so they crack bad jokes attempting to be far cleverer than they are in real life and failing. If the film crew is documenting a profession such as doctors or police while they are working an important case, expect the characters' antics to be to the detriment of their actual duties.

Sister trope to Acting Unnatural in which a people told to "act natural" immediately find trouble doing so. Compare to Centipedes Dilemma in which when a person is unable to do a natural action after the fact that they do the action is brought to their attention.


Examples:

Literature
  • Happens to Katniss in The Hunger Games, she's not convincing unless she doesn't realize she's being filmed.

Live Action Television

  • One episode of House had the doctors have trouble with a case because they are being filmed for a documentary. House berates his crew for being afraid to make mistakes which might lead to their patient's death, or worse.

  • On Psych Lassie's little sister Lauren documented the gang on a case involving a polar bear. Weirdly, Shawn and Gus, the resident Cloud Cuckoo Landers acted the most natural in front of the camera. Lassie and Juliet acted like actors... really bad actors. They wanted to "do takes over" and Juliet became particularly more clumsy than usual.*Thirty Rock: Liz invites Jack to appear As Himself in The Teaser sketch of an episode of TGS and he can't do it.

  • On News Radio, Jimmy James is being filmed for a documentary, but is stiff on camera. They solve it by pretending that the camera broke and have to stop filming to catch him being natural.

Film
  • In The Santa Clause, Scott can't stop looking at the camera when he's being filmed, when other people repeatedly remind him not to or right after they physically turn his head to where he's supposed to be facing.

Western Animation
  • In Ed Edd N Eddy, Eddy sets out to get Blackmail footage with Ed as a planted actor. Ed ruins it by making it too obvious he's acting, even at one point walking right past the victim in order to read the teleprompter clearly.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • February 2, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    (Please correct me if I'm wrong on these--my memory is incredibly hazy with these two cases.)

    In The Santa Clause, Scott can't stop looking at the camera when he's being filmed, when other people repeatedly remind him not to or right after they physically turn his head to where he's supposed to be facing.

    In Ed Edd N Eddy, Eddy sets out to get Blackmail footage with Ed as a planted actor. Ed ruins it by making it too obvious he's acting, even at one point walking right past the victim in order to read the teleprompter clearly.
  • February 2, 2012
    TonyG
    On News Radio, Jimmy James is being filmed for a documentary, but is stiff on camera. They solve it by pretending that the camera broke and have to stop filming to catch him being natural.
  • February 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Thirty Rock: Liz invites Jack to appear As Himself in The Teaser sketch of an episode of TGS and he can't do it.
  • February 3, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    Compare Dull Surprise?
  • February 8, 2012
    Duncan
    Happens to Katniss in The Hunger Games, she's not convincing unless she doesn't realize she's being filmed.
  • February 9, 2012
    LobsterMagnus
    In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, the gang tries to find out who is sabotaging Barney's attempts in picking up chicks. The plan is to lure the person in question into the McLaren's and observe her there in secret. Marshall has the most problems with acting unsuspicious at that day (basically he gets nervous and is overthinking it to much), and what Lily does at the jukebox doesn't look very "natural" either...
  • February 16, 2012
    thewriter
    ^That belongs under Acting Unnatural, and is already there.
  • February 22, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    "Sister trope to Acting Unnatural in which a people told to "act natural" immediately find trouble doing so."

    ...that's exactly what was described. The film crew asks the two to "Just act natural" and immediately Bob and Alice don't know how to do so.
  • February 23, 2012
    thewriter
    In this case, the trouble of "acting natural" comes from the presence of the cameras.
  • February 25, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Supernatural where Sam and Dean are sent into an Alternate Universe where they're Jared Padaleki and Jensen Ackles, two actors on a show called "Supernatural" they try to act like they really are for the cameras filming scenes of the show, but they're really bad at it.
  • February 28, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Then that should be clarified. Especially since the title puts the emphasis on the actor rather than the situation.

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