Created By: HaggisMcCrablice on January 30, 2012 Last Edited By: Westrim on September 27, 2014

Tippler Character, Teetotaller Actor

Drinks like a fish on screen, but really never touches the stuff.

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Page Type:
Trope
A character known for having a few or being a plain fat stinking drunk is played by an actor who seldom or never consumes alcohol. A subtrope of Mean Character, Nice Actor and the rummy cousin of a Fake Brit.

Examples:

  • Hal Smith, who played town drunk Otis on The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith said years later on Larry King's show that Smith had never had a drop in his life.
  • Shemp Howard did a lot of jokes involving getting drunk, but in real life rarely drank.

Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • January 30, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Can this involve other things, like the guy who played Cigarette Smoking Man in The X Files doesn't actually smoke?
  • January 30, 2012
    AP
    I think it should. Limiting it to alcohol might get this trope few examples.
  • January 30, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    On that note, David Strathairn, who played chain-smoker Edward R. Murrow in Good Night And Good Luck never smokes in day-to-day life.
  • January 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Late in life Harpo Marx was in a play starring his friend Alexander Woolcott and had to smoke, after having given it up years before. During most of the play they faked it by him being near the wings and his wife smoking backstage & blowing the smoke out onstage, but there was one scene where he couldn't do that and had to actually smoke.
  • January 30, 2012
    Chabal2
    Apparently Clint Eastwood's permanent Clint Squint in the Dollars Trilogy comes from the fact that he doesn't smoke.
  • January 30, 2012
    kicks
    As far as cigarettes go, it happened to Lily Tomlin in Shadows And Fog.
  • January 30, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    I think I've heard of a film or two where a character is drinking apple juice instead of beer.

    Also, "Not to be confused with Frothy Mugs Of Water".
  • January 30, 2012
    Rognik
    I don't know if Johnny Depp drinks in real life or not, but for someone who is supposed to drink rum regularly, Jack Sparrow never once drinks the stuff on screen in Pirates Of The Caribbean
  • January 30, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ You're right. Even though their are a couple scenes where he is clearly drunk (so it's not an Informed Flaw), he's doesn't drink on screen.
  • January 30, 2012
    SKJAM
    • The old Batman live action show had Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, who was constantly smoking with a cigarette holder. Mr. Meredith did not himself smoke, and the Penguin's distinctive laugh was partially inspired by his attempts to disguise his coughing.
  • January 30, 2012
    Glyndwr
    Alan Rickman is a very nice guy who specializes in playing irredeemable Villains.

  • January 30, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • January 30, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Should the description mention how such things are accomplished (Frothy Mugs Of Water, herbal cigarettes, etc.)?
  • January 30, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    Rognik, in a story about the filming of The Rum Diary, Depp stated that his own social drinking resulted in director Bruce Robinson falling off the wagon, while Robinson's cigar habit caused Depp to start smoking again.

    Not sure if that applies here exactly, it's an interesting anecdote.

    Also, on the subject of herbal cigarettes, non-smoker Ian Mc Kellen had to use them for his performance as the title character in the 1995 Setting Update of Richard III (Since it was set in the 1930s, everybody smoked constantly).
  • January 31, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    I'm not too sure if this applies as it's not voluntary, but Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots. Whenever he gnawed on carrots on TV for the "What's up, Doc?" line, he'd spit it out into a trash can nearby.
  • January 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • January 31, 2012
    Rognik
    As I recall, the actors on Mad Men all use herbal cigarettes, whether they actually smoke in real life or not.
  • January 31, 2012
    Duncan
    Dean Martin cultivated a "lovable drunk" persona onstage, but his lowball glasses were reportedly filled with apple juice.
  • January 31, 2012
    Antigone3
    I don't know if he used herbal cigarettes or the real things, but nonsmoker Tom Selleck had to light up to play Eisenhower in Ike: Countdown to D-Day.
  • February 2, 2012
    PaulA
    • Richard E Grant played a raging alcoholic in Withnail And I, but doesn't drink usually (and according to IMDB's ever-reliable trivia section, is actually allergic to alcohol).
  • February 3, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Inverted by Jackie Gleason, whose cup of after-show coffee reportedly was filled with straight hooch.

    Although Jimmy Stewart was supposed to be a raging, hallucinating alcoholic in the film Harvey, he is never seen drinking onscreen, and I don't know if he actually drank or not.
  • February 3, 2012
    Jordan
    While he drinks less than other characters, Tom in Parks And Recreation has been comically drunk a few times in Parks And Recreation, and the actor who plays him, Aziz Ansari, doesn't drink alcohol.
  • February 26, 2012
    Westrim
    bump
  • February 26, 2012
    queenbri
    Justified if the actor is a recovering/recovered alcoholic, while their character isn't.
  • February 26, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Not true. The scene from the first Pirates movie has Sparrow and Elizabeth both getting drunk on rum, which prompts her to burn it all, and him to ask "why is all the rum gone?"
  • February 26, 2012
    Rognik
    ^True, I had forgotten that scene... But if I remember rightly, she faked being drunk before burning it, and he doesn't drink /on camera/. Not saying he isn't a drunkard, he just does it out of frame.
  • February 26, 2012
    peccantis
    Trope? More like Trivia.
  • June 3, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Definitely trivia. But we have similar trivia-tropes like Mean Character Nice Actor, so why not.
  • September 10, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Film Live Action
    • In Skidoo, there is a scene where all the characters onscreen are supposedly high on LSD. None of the actors involved had ever done acid, and thus mostly ended up acting like they were drunk instead.

    Live Action TV
    • The actor who played the Smoking Man on The X Files was always smoking herbal cigarettes.
  • September 10, 2014
    gallium
    This isn't tropeworthy and isn't even trivia-worthy. "This actor, who does not drink, played a character who drinks." Well, I dunno, Tom Hanks played a Mafia enforcer in Road To Perdition but so far as I know he's never actually worked as a hired killer in Real Life. Should we make a page for actors who aren't murderers but play murderers onscreen?

    Not tropeworthy, , not triviaworthy, motion to discard.
  • September 10, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Live Action TV
    • Hogans Heroes. A Running Gag throughout the series involved Hogan swiping a handful of Klink's cigars while he isn't looking, then puffing away at them himself, and is also a connoiseur of wine, however Bob Crane himself never drank or smoke in his private life; in fact, the biopic Auto Focus shows that even in bars and strip clubs, he would order fruit juice.
  • September 10, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Beacuse an actor being a criminal themselves is the last thing their audience would expect, while audience will more likely think the actor is just as hooked to cigarettes/hard drinking/drugs as their character. For some reason.
  • September 10, 2014
    gallium
    ^I'm not convinced that's true. Actors and actresses play parts in which their characters do things that the actor or actress might not actually do in real life. Can't see how that merits a page. Honestly, Mean Character Nice Actor doesn't deserve a page either, but that's another argument for another forum.
  • September 11, 2014
    Spindriver
    So actors can pretend to do things they don't do in real life? Wowsers.

    No, it's not a trope that I can see either.
  • September 11, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Even if this were at all remarkable, it's not a trope - it's not a device used to make a point about a character or a story - and as trivia it's just absurd ("actor is not the same as their character in this particular specific way"). MTD.
  • September 11, 2014
    K.Kloga
    Replying to last few sceptical comments on this - it may be used "In-Universe" (and was a lot - You've probably seen at least one scene with the guy known for something arguing that he hates doing particualr thing that he doesn't want/like/able to do in real life) and it is an interesting trivia if combined with "how they still managed to have this as it's seen". I've never heard of Mel Blanc fact and was really entertained by it.
  • September 11, 2014
    Westrim
    It does need a different name to incorporate the smoking examples which I suspect there may be more of anyway. There are several characters on the edge of my mind that I can think of who smoked for appearances, but personally disliked it.

  • September 11, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    For the commentary for Singin In The Rain Cyd Charisse notes that she had to learn to smoke to play the part of the gangster's moll. Specifically she had to learn to inhale from a cigarette in a holder and blow it into Gene Kelley's face.
  • September 12, 2014
    robinjohnson
    The Mel Blanc thing isn't true. http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/melblanc.asp
  • September 12, 2014
    Westrim
  • September 12, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ eh? That sounds too complex and confusable. Since this is about actors and characters it should be Drunk Character Sober Actor or something like that.
  • September 26, 2014
    Westrim
    I'm looking a way for the trope to not focus on drinking in the title, since other vices are allowed.
  • September 26, 2014
    robinjohnson
    The more general it is, the more obviously unremarkable it is, until you end up with Character Does A Thing That The Actor Does Not Do In Real Life When Not Playing This Character.

    Also, carrots are a vice?
  • September 26, 2014
    DAN004
  • September 26, 2014
    LordGro
    Discard. We are a wiki for tropes, not for completely pointless trivia about actors.
  • September 26, 2014
    Alucard
    Dan Castellaneta, who plays Homer Simpson, doesn't drink and is also a vegetarian.
  • September 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Tell that to the Trivia and YMMV subpages? Oh and Headscratchers, WMG and Just For Fun as well?
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