One of the most important things I’ve learned from David Kibbe is that when trying to apply his system, people often miss the forest for the trees. They focus on an analysis of body parts, rather than trying to understand how a person can present themselves to the world most effectively. David’s work is heavily influenced by the idea of the MGM “star factory,” which, if you’re interested, you can learn about from listening to the MGM episodes of You Must Remember This, for a start. David even namedrops Louis B. Mayer in Metamorphosis. The sum total of the features is not as important as whether the type that seems to make sense on paper will actually unleash your own special, unique star qualities.
Unfortunately, it seems like many who have not had the privilege of learning from David directly are still stuck in this old, analytical way of thinking. Recently, in a Kibbe group, I saw January Jones declared as a Natural. When questioned, the person who put her in that category said that her roles have given the false impression that she is Classic, and that there is a lot of Natural in her bone structure.
If a person’s career is made by a certain role, and this role is one that the person will have to overcome, typecasting-wise, for the rest of their career, unless they have one that is even more major and iconic, I don’t think we can say that she was miscast.
Her role in Mad Men was to appear to be the ideal of the 1950s housewife, and later the late-60s Republican Political Wife. She is referred to as a “Grace Kelly type” by others in the show. (Kelly, by the way, also had clearly yang features, like her wide jaw.) She is never mentioned in the same sentence as Ingrid Bergman.
Besides the fact that anyone who has seen January’s offscreen fashion choices can attest to the fact that uncontrolled styles do not highlight her beauty as much as controlled ones do, the fact that she was so successful as Betty Draper, to the point that “Betty Draper” has become a shorthand for a certain kind of woman, disproves the fact that it is only casting that has given us a Classic impression of January Jones. Now, David hasn’t confirmed her as far as I know, but both Jon Hamm and John Slattery are confirmed Classics, and I would be extremely surprised if January Jones were anything else. If she actually were a Natural, her Betty Draper styling would look a little odd and constricting. She simply wouldn’t have been cast in that role.
A Kibbe verification that threw people for a loop is Mila Kunis, who is a Theatrical Romantic. True, she doesn’t have the “wasp waist” associated with TRs.
One piece of advice David gave when discussing Mila is to look at their breakout role–which applies to January obviously!–and for Mila, that was Jackie in That 70s Show, whom he called “the epitome of teenage TR.”
While this applies to what David refers to the “parlor game” of guessing celebrity types, I think we can apply it to ourselves as well. What would be your breakout role? What would cause your star power to be unleashed?