The Secret Of Star Quality

What is it that makes an actor a Star? Is it looks, talent, sheer luck? Or is it something else entirely? 

Let's talk about looks first. There are a lot of very beautiful people who try to make it in Hollywood. N
ewcomers who were the most dazzling specimens in their hometowns get a big jolt when they move to L.A. and discover that they're just one of many, many dazzling specimens all vying to be the Next Big Thing.
Beauty alone doesn't make a Star, not by a long shot. Of course, Hollywood puts a premium on great looking people, but because there are so damn many of them there it takes something else to be elevated to that place in the ether that's called Stardom. Strangely enough, that something else isn't necessarily talent. Like I said in my previous post, In Character, there are a lot of supporting actors who have far more raw talent than some of the greatest stars. 

On the other hand, soap operas are full of actors who, feature for feature, are more "perfect" looking than a lot of great stars. Oh, and as an aside - beautiful in real life doesn't always translate into beautiful on camera. When I was casting I saw it time and time again. 

An actor would come in for an audition who seemed to have all the right elements but once on-screen their beauty faded, their personality fell flat. There they were in the flesh - gorgeous and fascinating, but the camera spit them out like spoiled food. 

And, of course, the opposite was just as true. In would come an actor who was appealing enough - nothing special, but then, like magic, they'd be transformed on-screen into the most scintillating presence imaginable. 

And that's the key. Stars have that quality often referred to as It - or Charisma, that magnetic, almost other-worldly screen presence that compels you to watch and be fascinated by what you see. It doesn't even mean that you have to love what you see - that's a matter of taste. But, even if you're repelled, a Star elicits an intense, visceral response rather than a *yawn*.   

Once in a rare while someone arises who happens to be as charismatic and stunning  in person as they are on camera. And that, my friend, is what we call a Superstar.

Let's take a look at a scene from Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof featuring two of the biggest Stars and most luminous humans and ever to be paired on film before or since: Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman