Actors Are Lying About Their Heights and James Gunn Is Not Happy

'Guardians of the Galaxy'Credit: Disney
Actors lie about their heights. Maybe they shouldn't. 

It is incredibly hard and frustrating to become an actor in Hollywood. Not only do you have to compete for roles with hundreds of people, but you also can be eliminated for physical characteristics. It's really a crap shoot. 

That's led many actors to lie about their appearance on casting listings. This includes their heights. They usually say they're taller, in order to be considered for more roles. This leads to longer casting processes, as people are brought in and examined, vetted, and so forth. 

Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad director James Gunn recently took to Twitter to lament these lies. 

Gunn's argument is that lying about your height loses you as many jobs as you think it gets you. It also can get you flagged to not bring in later. Many times directors have a vision in their heads about how big or how small they want characters to be. Gunn used Guardians as a specific example, saying he wanted to get truly huge actors to fill roles, so he went with people like Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, and Chris Pratt, all of whom are tall in stature. 

While Gunn's explanation seemed innocuous and well-intentioned, it rubbed actor Anson Mount the wrong way, who argued that actor height was part of sexism, masculinity, and male domination in the industry. 

While I think there are lots of conversations that need to be had about sexism and male dominance in Hollywood, this might be taking the argument a little far. As some commentators pointed out, Tom Cruise is short in stature and has had a fine career, although we should note he is frequently cast across from actresses who appear (through the magic of movies) smaller than he is. That is, outside of Eyes Wide Shut, where he played opposite of his then-wife, Nicole Kidman, who is much taller than the actor. 

Gunn respectfully answered and said all his casting decisions had to do with storytelling. 

What do you think of this ongoing debate? 

Let us know in the comments.      

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Your Comment

13 Comments

who is Anson Mount?

June 15, 2021 at 8:04PM, Edited June 15, 8:04PM

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Torchiam Sun
camera operator
77

If James Gunn can’t find a way to shoot actors who are differing heights to still tell his story, he should up his skill level. Example: Blade 2 - Snipes is 5’8” and Perlman is over 6’ and yet Del Toro shot many scenes where they look similar in stature. Also: who’s to say that short men can’t be physically intimidating. I think it shows a huge lack of imagination.

June 16, 2021 at 7:09AM, Edited June 16, 7:09AM

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Lyf Stolte
Director, actor, writer
72

There are quite a few things that you have to do in order to accomplish the feat of filming a 5'7" actor next to 6'4" actors. It may force you to use camera angles that you dont want. Can you place them on an apple box? Sure, but now they are stationary, what if you want to have them walk? Now you need to build an elevated platform anywhere you want them to walk. All things that can be done but require more time and more money on a set. If an actor is worth it (Tom Cruise, RDJ, Gary Oldman) then you accommodate for those things. But being dishonest going into a first meeting doesn't work for anyone.

June 2, 2022 at 11:31AM

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i'm with James, like director is important to understand if an actor is tall or small, to organize the shot, the framing, to know if they need to buy more apple box...
i'm 165cm... i'm short man, but i not think to be less man than others... and Tom Cruise is ones of example to small but big man.

June 16, 2021 at 11:38AM, Edited June 16, 11:38AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director (with strong tech knowledge)
944

Great thought and excellent feeling to read it..what a great content writing on movies series..

June 17, 2021 at 1:13AM, Edited June 17, 1:13AM

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While I think actors shouldn't lie about their heights on their resumes, it is undeniable that "heightism" exists in Hollywood and in western culture in general. Napoleon, easily one of histories greatest figures came out of nowhere, and through sheer will became an emperor-twice. Yet even he is now used as a reference to mock men who are considered too "short" to be a "real man". If Napoleon never had a chance at respect for his height, then I don't blame actors for lying about it to get past directors who hide behind "artistic license" to cover their bias against short men. True directors cast actors because--they can act. Not because of their shoe size. A good director can find cinematic styles to adjust for any height differences, such as in Tom Cruise's movies. You never notice his height difference, because the way he is filmed minimizes that difference in his movies. Fortunately for him, that's most likely due to his personal requirements of any director, which is opposite to every other actors relationship with a director. While Cruise can obviously demand such things, no one else can just tell the director "I'm short, suck it up and do your job". As far as height in general, it's all relative. There are enough good actors out there to compliment anyone's height. A good director casts for the quality of the acting, then finds people who's heights correspond to each other appropriately for the story line. Cinematic backgrounds can be adjusted, especially for a movie like GotG where most of the background is going to CGI. Scaling can be done to emphasize any comparable heights you could dream of, so having "truly huge actors" is not a real excuse. Height parity or disparity can be shown between anyone of any height. A 5' actress standing next to a 5'9" actor would look the same on camera as a 5'9" actress next to a 6'5" actor, and that's without compromising the shot. You don't even need such drastic differences in height if you can use your camera properly. Take the photo in this article for example. Chris Pratt is 4" shorter than David Bautista. You can see their full bodies head to toe. Yet in that shot Pratt clearly looks much taller, and even more muscular. That's simply through camera angle. So sorry Gunn, laziness is not an excuse for height bias.

June 18, 2021 at 11:31AM, Edited June 18, 11:31AM

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Dresgon
81

Except Napoleon was above average height for the French at that time, and average height when compared to the British. He was less than two inches shorter than the Duke of Wellington.

June 18, 2021 at 10:15PM

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Yes I know, however, you just emphasized my point even more. If a reasonably tall person with the achievements he had is still mocked for being short, what chance does a regular guy who's even shorter have of being taken seriously.

June 20, 2021 at 9:28AM

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Dresgon
81

Sorry, Anson, but the director is the boss, not you. And I'll bet your shitty attitude in this debate cost you more jobs than you'll ever imagine. Directors will make concessions for a Tom Cruise, but not for a short little fellow like you. BTW, why are YOU so threatened by taller men?

June 21, 2021 at 7:50AM

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Bob P
74

He's 6'1" lol.

February 1, 2022 at 2:49PM

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Anson Mount? He is 5'11"

June 2, 2022 at 11:26AM

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People need to grow up. A script is written that calls for a certain type, but it's supposed be re-written(or not shot), because it's not fair to actors who aren't tall? Grow up. Get some talent then talk shit.

January 28, 2022 at 7:59PM, Edited January 28, 7:59PM

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I think this issue goes beyond Hollywood. Men are often seen (unfairly) as lesser for being shorter. In that sense I am with Anson however, you should never lie about things like that on a resume. Once you show up for a audition its going to be found out that you are shorter than what you posted. Perhaps you can wow them with your acting but you started the audition with a negative impression.

June 2, 2022 at 11:26AM, Edited June 2, 11:26AM

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