Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hugh Laurie as "House" - Why a British Actor is a Great Choice for the Role

Christine, my wife, loves House, M.D. and Hugh Laurie, so I've DVR'd a lot of his recent appearances on talk shows. On most, he was queried about being a British actor playing an American character. Leno did a little more than that, but it was the heart of many other interviews.

Exactly what House needs
As I watched those interviews, it struck me that a British actor is exactly the person to bring a negative character like Greg House to life. Laurie's considerable talents and comedy background are important elements, but he also brings a sensibility to the character that I bet would not have worked nearly as well with an American actor.

American television audiences don't usually respond well to darker characters. Years ago Buffalo Bill with Dabney Coleman was a great show but never captured ratings.

William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade, if memory serves, talked a lot about the demand for likeable characters.

British audiences on the other hand have made lots of nasty sorts top viewing choices:

I suspect somewhere in the subtext "House" is enhanced by the differences between British and American humor, and it certainly makes viewing better on this side of the pond.


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