Tina Fey vs. Liz Lemon

7 Sep

Not sure why, but I starting thinking today about the way in which people refer to a TV character by their TV name and a movie character by their corresponding actor’s name.

In a discussion about 30 Rock, Tina Fey is Liz Lemon, yet, when discussing one of her recent films, she’s Tina Fey.  Why?

My guess is that viewers come to know characters a lot more while watching a television show week in, week out, sometimes for years.  After a couple of seasons, Jason Alexander simply became George Costanza.  However, a two hour movie is generally not enough to override Brad Pitt’s persona, nor Meryl Streep’s, regardless of how indelible their performance is.

It also made me wonder: is this why Roseanne Barr, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, and others used their real name for their characters?  In fact, they essentially play “themselves” as well.  Perhaps, knowing the TV character stigma, they did not want to forever be known as their television persona, and, even if they did, they’d be known as themselves since there really is little distinction.

So is it simply more difficult to create a character in film?  Is this a challenge filmmakers and actors must face more so than folks working in TV?

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