“I view myself as a facilitator more than anything. That’s always been my thinking as an actor. I’m there to facilitate the story and I’m there to facilitate getting the crew home to see their family.” – Elizabeth Marvel
Actress Elizabeth Marvel isn’t a well-known name, but her resume boasts appearances in films directed by the Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, and Noah Baumbach. Her recognized performances in small, key roles has given her the label of a “character actor.” While being interviewed by Film School Rejects, Marvel questions the term and talks about what she feels is her role in a production.
Marvel is asked what she thinks of the term “character actor” since she is often given that label. She responds, “Right, well that’s the thing, what does that mean? I don’t really know. Isn’t that a job for all of us. For me, what it’s symbolic of is that I never had to assimilate. I’ve never had to adhere to an idea of femininity. I’ve never had to adhere to an idea of what an actress is, or what she does, or what her weight is. I’ve just been able to dig really deep into my own authenticity and source it, and really not worry about anything. Which is super lovely as I get older [laughs]. Because age is not an issue. Weight is not an issue. None of that shit, which I think is often thought of as the actress’ job, has not been my experience. It’s a lovely time to be a character actress!”
One aspect of being a character actor that Marvel enjoys is the variety of her roles. She explains, “It makes me very delighted when people are like ‘oh my god, you’re that person!’ Or they don’t recognize me. And that’s the joy of what I get to do. And I’m so grateful that it’s the only job — actually, I had two other jobs in my lifetime. I was a cocktail waitress for David Bowie and I was a nude model for art students. But apart from that, I’ve only ever been an actress.”
Being a “utility player”, Marvel sees her role as helping the process along as a “facilitator.” She points out, “I view myself as a facilitator more than anything. That’s always been my thinking as an actor. I’m there to facilitate the story and I’m there to facilitate getting the crew home to see their family.”