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Should Studios Be Able to Perform Background Checks on Actors?

By Michael Klazema on 3/24/2020

Even if film studios don’t order criminal history screenings or other formal employee background checks for their actors, most will consider an actor’s history before making a casting decision. Some actors earn a reputation for being difficult to work with, which can affect their ability to find roles in the future. In other cases, actors can damage or outright ruin their careers with statements or actions that turn the general public against them.

In recent years, the rise of the #MeToo movement has pushed film studios to be more accountable in casting actors, hiring directors, and working with individuals who have been the subject of serious allegations. Sexual abuse allegations have effectively ended the careers of once-beloved creatives such as Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, and Woody Allen.

Spacey was fired from the Netflix show House of Cards and recast and replaced in the film All the Money in the World after allegations against him emerged. He has not appeared in a film since 2018’s Billionaire Boys Club, which was complete before the allegations. While Spacey has not been convicted of a crime, the allegations against him have tarnished his public image and rendered him a perceived liability to movie studios, both as a potential deterrent to moviegoers and as a threatening presence on set.

At the same time, Hollywood has been known to offer redemption opportunities to certain actors who might have struggled to pass employee background checks or temporary worker background checks for a more traditional job role. A particularly famous example is Robert Downey Jr., who struggled with substance abuse issues throughout the early part of his career. In the 1990s, he was convicted on multiple drug charges and sent to prison for one year and three months. He has been clean since 2003, landed a career-making role in 2008’s Iron Man, and is now one of the wealthiest and most successful actors in the world. In 2015, the governor of California officially pardoned Downey for his felony convictions.

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2015/12/24/entertainment/robert-downey-jr-pardon-feat/index.html

https://www.quora.com/Should-studios-be-able-to-perform-background-checks-on-actors


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