Created By: HadashiMay 28, 2011 Last Edited By: HadashiDecember 19, 2011

Imported Locals

When Hollywood thinks it can do better than the real thing.... (Doesn`t it always?)

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Do We Have This One?

The scene is set with local colour (though it probably isn't filmed in the right city....or even country). But there is something funny going on with the actors....is that a hint of an American accent? Where have I seen that guy before?

Yes, Hollywood has a habit of faking things, even when it doesn't have to, and generally imports its own actors rather than go through the prolonged and expensive process of local casting.

Compare and contrast Fake Nationality and Reality Is Unrealistic


Examples:

Film:

  • Everything is Illuminated, Elijah Wood plays a Jew, but more importantly, most of the Ukrainians were imported from America - though plenty originated from there, including the co-star and his band. (The band supplied some of the film's music and appeared in entirety on the station platform) Ukraine itself wasn't used much in the filming.
  • The Jackie Chan film The Medallion is nearly entirely set - and filmed - in Ireland but everyone is non-Irish - most of the actors are British. Strangely so are most of the characters; the villain is a Brit and the good guys are Interpol agents who (Chan excepted) are all British despite being based in Dublin.
  • Most of the cast of Slumdog Millionaire is from India, but the leading man, Dev Patel, is a British citizen of Indian descent. Director Simon Boyle auditioned hundreds of Indian actors, but found they were all "strong, handsome hero-types", while Patel was more boyish and vulnerable.
  • The first Stargate movie used Mexican actors for most of the Egyptian-descended characters on Ra's planet.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • May 28, 2011
    LobsterMagnus
    Seems to be a specific case of Fake Nationality, in the sense that here the actor plays such a character while actually being in this character's home country.

    Also, can be sort of a Justified Trope when the studio wants to have an actor who is already famous in the places where the film gets released, in Hollywood's case this means USA, and further the international market as a whole. Most actors having celebrity status in their native countries are only known by comparably few people in USA and other parts of the world.
  • May 28, 2011
    ShivaFang
    I think the scope of this trope is too general. Many many TV shows and movies are set in the United States, but filmed in Canada with Canadian actors. Smallville, Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary (just off the top of my head).

    (Interestingly enough, in Stargate: Atlantis, despite the majority of the characters being from the United States, except the one token Canadian, there's a scene where Shepperd bets 5$ on a fight between Teal'c and Rohnan and passes the 'bookie' a blue bill, easily recognizable as Canadian currency. Since it was filmed in Canada, easier access to Canadian bills than American ones, I guess, but the blue bills really stood out, they should have used 20s, which are at least green.)

    Narrow your scope a bit, or this trope becomes pretty meaningless.

    • Edit: After reading Fake Nationality, it pretty much covers this, except for filming.
  • May 29, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ @/Shiva Fang, I think you have this backwards. It isn't "Story set in America but filmed in Canada has Canadians playing Americans", it's "Story set in Canada and filmed in Canada has Americans playing Canadians".
  • October 28, 2011
    Hadashi
    Paul A is right, this is about importing your own locals.
  • October 28, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I concur. It is certainly related to Fake Nationality.
  • October 30, 2011
    Hadashi
    I'll add that as a note
  • November 3, 2011
    Mith4
    Is this a subset of Reality Is Unrealistic? Is the reason they import locals cause they don't think the actual locals look enough like the audience would imagine them?
  • December 8, 2011
    Hadashi
    They import them for a whole list of reasons, cost, convenience, shameless racism - to name but a few.

    Certainly could be considered a subtrope of Reality Is Unrealistic under certain circumstances.
  • December 8, 2011
    RossN
    The Jackie Chan film The Medallion is nearly entirely set - and filmed - in Ireland but everyone is non-Irish - most of the actors are British. Strangely so are most of the characters; the villain is a Brit and the good guys are Interpol agents who (Chan excepted) are all British despite being based in Dublin.
  • December 8, 2011
    JoeG
    Most of the cast of Slumdog Millionaire is from India, but the leading man, Dev Patel, is a British citizen of Indian descent. Director Simon Boyle auditioned hundreds of Indian actors, but found they were all "strong, handsome hero-types", while Patel was more boyish and vulnerable.
  • December 10, 2011
    ArcadesSabboth
    The first Stargate movie used Mexican actors for most of the Egyptian-descended characters on Ra's planet.

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