Created By: lakingsif on September 1, 2013 Last Edited By: Paradisesnake on December 7, 2013
Nuked

Actor Inspired Element

When part of a work was suggested or inspired by an actor.

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Trope
Some element of a work, be it certain dialogue or the classic clothing of a character, wasn't chosen by the creators or the responsible department of the crew, but by the actor. Maybe they walked into set one day wearing leather pants and the director thought the look "just worked" for their character when the possibility had never been discussed before. Maybe they suggested that adding some lines to conversation would be beneficial to their Character Development.

Something an actor does with the character which the producer likes either before or after they get the role would also count. These may be examples of Cast the Expert. This excludes improvisations that were included in the final cut, as some precognition and crew approval is polite when you're about to overthrow their production.

This is something from Real Life often portrayed behind the scenes of the Show Within a Show In-Universe.

May overlap with Actor-Shared Background, and sometimes Throw It In. Compare The Cast Show Off, when an actor uses some of their Real Life skills in their performance; Harpo Does Something Funny, when the writers understand that this is inevitable; The Danza, when the actor names their character after themself.

When an element of a work is inspired by fans or WMG, it's Ascended Fanon.


Examples:

Film
  • After getting the role of Mr Magorium in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Dustin Hoffman gave the character a speech impediment, because why not, he's already good-crazy.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - Jack Sparrow's way of talking and behaving was basically Johnny Depp adding to a character that was far more low-brow in concept.
  • During the open casting call for The Last Airbender, creator M. Night Shyamalan received a video of Noah Ringer doing performance martial arts. He never originally thought about casting Ringer (saying that he thought "wow, that's cool", but didn't originally intend to have so much of it in, or not quite so awesome), but then called him in for some acting auditions and screen tests to see if he could double anyway, and was apparently so impressed by the boy, who does look a lot like Aang as well, that he was hired.
  • In Blade Runner the 'Tears In The Rain' monologue was written by the actor, Rutger Hauer, when he didn't like the original lines. Notably, the modifications included the "like tears in the rain" addition at the end.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey turned Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from a stern but understanding officer (read:unmemorable character) into the trash-talking debasing Drill Sergeant Nasty that has now become iconic.
  • Apparently Robert Downey, Jr. kept hiding/eating snacks on the set during certain scenes of The Avengers, so eventually it was incorporated into the film; "Blueberry?"
  • In Star Wars, the famous violet Lightsaber used by Mace Windu was the suggestion of his actor, Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Pitch Perfect: Beca's singing "When I'm Gone" as her audition piece was because Anna Kendrick already knew that song, having seen it on a Viral video and spent an afternoon learning it.
  • The Addams Family: It was Christina Ricci's idea to have Wednesday Addams fold her arms on her chest like a corpse being laid out for a funeral when Wednesday was being tucked into bed. Ricci was about 10 at the time.

Live-Action TV
  • 24: Sarah Clarke auditioned for and was cast as Nina just one day before filming began and the wardrobe department didn't have time to give her a fitting, so she ended up wearing what she wore to the audition as her costume. Due to the premise of the show occuring over the course of one day in real time, she wore her own outfit for the rest of the season. Differs from Throw It In in that it was at Clarke's suggestion.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, Leonard Nimoy came up with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, the Vulcan salute, and the "Live long and Prosper" salutation.
  • Most, if not all, actors taking the lead role on Doctor Who have had at least some input into their costume design and The Nth Doctor's idiosyncrasies.
  • Several CSI characters were renamed by the actors. William Petersen chose Grissom's last name because he was a space program fan (there was an astronaut Grissom.) Gary Sinise named Mac Taylor, who was to be called Rick Castelluci, after his son, McCanna "Mac", and his Forrest Gump character, Lt. Dan Taylor. It was also Gary's idea for Mac to have lost his wife on 9/11.
  • Branson of Downton Abbey was going to be from Yorkshire but actor Allen Leech tried in both that and his native Irish accent. Lord Fellowes decided he liked this and it became the character's entire identity, the change in nationality basically writing its own subplots for the last four series.
  • In Bewitched, the reason Samantha wiggled her nose to cast spells is because actress Elizabeth Montgomery had the very rare ability to wiggle her nose.
  • The Scrubs Season 1 DVD commentary mentions that Zach Braff (JD's actor) was the one who suggested the theme tune be Superman by Lazlo Bane.

Video Games
  • Eddie Riggs in Brütal Legend was at first designed as a general roadie with a hint of Deadpan Snarker, and he even took after Lemmy for a while. As the character was developed, elements of Jack Black were thought of, but the designers couldn't have guessed that Jack Black himself would approach them to work on the project (he was a fan of Double Fine's previous work, Psychonauts). Eventually, Eddie became Jack.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • September 1, 2013
    GKaiser
    • Pirates Of The Caribbean - Jack Sparrow's way of talking and behaving was basically Johnny Depp adding to a character that was far more low-brow in concept.
  • September 1, 2013
    Alucard
    Eddie Riggs in Brutal Legend was at first designed as a general roadie with a hint of Deadpan Snarker, and he even took after Lemmy for a while. As the character was developed, elements of Jack Black were thought of, but the designers couldn't have guessed that Jack Black himself would approach them to work on the project (he was a fan of Double Fine's previous work, Psychonauts). Eventually, Eddie became Jack.
  • September 2, 2013
    Arivne
    Since this takes place out of universe it should be added to the Trivia index after it's launched.

    Compare The Cast Showoff, where an actor uses one of their Real Life skills in their performance.
  • September 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Twenty Four: Sarah Clarke auditioned for and was cast as Nina just one day before filming began and the wardrobe department didn't have time to give her a fitting, so she ended up wearing what she wore to the audition as her costume. Due to the premise of the show occuring over the course of one day in real time, she wore her own outfit for the rest of the season.
  • September 3, 2013
    YeOldeLuke
    In Blade Runner the "Tears in the rain" monologue was written by the actor when he didn't like the original lines.

    In Star Trek the Original Series, Leonard Nimoy came up with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, the Vulcan salute, and the "Live long and Prosper" salutation.

    In Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey turned Gunnery Sargent Hartman from a stern but understanding officer (read:unmemorable character) into the trash-talking debasing Drill Sargeant Nasty that has now become iconic.

    Should this be differentiated from improvisations, like when the actor who played Officer Marvin Nash in "Reservoir Dogs" improvised the line "I've got a new kid at home!"
  • September 3, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ Yes, and I've added a sentence.
  • September 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names and grouped examples by media.
  • September 4, 2013
    unclerupee
    Apparently Robert Downey Jr kept hiding/eating snacks on the set during certain scenes of the Avengers movie, so eventually it was incorporated into the film; "Blueberry?"
  • September 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Added Rutger Hauer's name in the Blade Runner example.
  • September 4, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Brady Bunch: Robert Reed (Mike Brady) absolutely hated the writing of the show, so he'd rewrite entire episodes and send them to the studio, for them to send to the producers as the stuido's rewrites. Later he cut out the middleman, presneting his opinions directly to Sherwood Schwartz et al. In one anecdote, he hated the Stinger of the episode so he demanded it be rewritten, and while the supervising producer was gone Reed wrote one himself. When the producer came back and saw what was going on he claimed that the writers "couldn't think of anything," realizing that at least Reed would play the middling stinger that he wrote to the hilt, while if they gave him anything else he'd sandbag it.
  • September 4, 2013
    Generality
    Most, if not all actors taking the lead role on Doctor Who have had at least some input into their costume design.
  • September 6, 2013
    jayoungr
    It would be good to mention how this trope differs from Throw It In.
  • September 6, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ it is already mentioned, at least in a round-about way, and I think it's clear enough to be not be confused for "we didn't do the scene quite right but it was included anyway because it was good accidentally and in a different way or it was funny or we didn't care, or multiple from the three".
  • September 6, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Sadly, Throw It In is wider than that. :P
  • September 7, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ "The preservation of ad libs, improvisations, and the occasional accident or mistimed what-have-you for dramatic or comic effect, sometimes at the cost of continuity." Okay, but I don't see how it's wide enough to be confused, though.
  • September 7, 2013
    DAN004
    Doesn't Throw It In cover examples of actor's suggestions already?
  • September 7, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I think this is broader than Throw It In. Throw It In is about improvisations and other not planned things, whereas this covers also cases where the actor is just given a lot of power to decide how he wants to play his role. If the actor takes part in the writing process itself, it's not really a case of Throw It In.
  • September 7, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Maybe it's just because of the too-plain title. Throw It In sounds stock phrasey to me. :P
  • September 7, 2013
    lakingsif
    This would certainly be a sibling to Throw It In, though.
  • September 7, 2013
    MetaFour
    Western Animation:
    • Justice League Unlimited. The writers initially meant for Vixen to be nothing but a Romantic False Lead--that John Stewart would quickly part ways with her and get back together with Shayera Hol. However, Gina Torres' voice acting for Vixen made the writers like the character more than they intended. As a result, they couldn't bring themselves to kill Vixen off, or to write her as a jerk (so John could break up with her guilt-free). John and Vixen end up staying together through the end of JLU (with foreshadowing--via time travel--strongly implying that John would eventually get back together with Shayera).
  • September 7, 2013
    chicagomel
    Several CSI characters were renamed by the actors. William Petersen chose Grissom's last name because he was a space program fan (there was an astronaut Grissom.) Gary Sinise named Mac Taylor, who was to be called Rick Castelluci, after his son,McCanna "Mac" and his Forrest Gump character Lt. Dan Taylor. It was also Gary's idea for Mac to have lost his wife on 9/11.
  • September 7, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Will Smith's character name Will Smith in The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. According to a story told by Smith, early in the process when everyone was deciding on the names of their characters Alfonso Ribero told him (paraphrased) "Everybody's going to call you by your character's name, so make it a good one!"
  • September 7, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    "May overlap with... and sometimes Throw It In."

    That is wrong. Every example here is basically just Throw It In. That is not a narrow trope.
  • September 8, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ From Throw It In's laconic: "An accident gets left in because it fits." Meanwhile this trope isn't accidental, but deliberate additions by the actor. I do wish, though, that that trope isn't that narrow...

    Though that would be related to Harpo Does Something Funny or Improv...
  • September 8, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^^^^^ That was the writers changing tack, not Gina Torres.

    ^^^ see The Danza.
  • October 26, 2013
    Noah1
    In Star Wars, The famous violet Lightsaber used by Mace Windu was the suggestion of his actor, Samuel L Jackson.
  • October 27, 2013
    JoeG
    • In Bewitched, the reason Samantha wiggled her nose to cast spells is because actress Elizabeth Montgomery had the very rare ability to wiggle her nose.
  • October 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Pitch Perfect: Becca's singing "When I'm Gone" as her audition peice was because Anna Kendrick already knew that song, having seen it on a Viral Video and spent an afternoon learning it.
  • October 29, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
  • October 30, 2013
    Tuomas
    The Blade Runner example isn't quite accurate: Rutger Hauer didn't write the whole monologue, he modified a monologue that was already in the script, and added the "like tears in rain" part to the end of it.
  • October 30, 2013
    Bisected8
    • The Scrubs Season 1 DVD commentary mentions that Zach Braff (JD's actor) was the one who suggested the theme tune be Superman by Lazlo Bane.
  • November 1, 2013
    JoeG
    • The Addams Family: It was Christina Ricci's idea to have Wednesday Addams fold her arms on her chest like a corpse being laid out for a funeral when Wednesday was being tucked into bed. Ricci was about 10 at the time.
  • November 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Not sure Heath Ledger's Joker counts. That's just part of what acting is, taking characters and breathing life into them.
  • December 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced a bunch of examples.
  • December 5, 2013
    lakingsif
    Should this launch, then?
  • December 5, 2013
    JoeG
    • Batman The Animated Series: In the episode "The Man Who Killed Batman", Harley Quinn played Amazing Grace on the kazoo while the Joker gave a eulogy for the supposedly dead Batman. Arleen Sorkin, who played Harley, performed the music herself.
  • December 6, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ was it her idea to play it, or did she just do it?
  • December 6, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • December 7, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ Yep.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=jbflz6f6x4qn554ei3c4zmjd&trope=ActorInspiredElement