Look TallerThere are many reason why filmmakers have to make actors look taller. For proper framing, character depiction and, even though casting is the best option it is extremely difficult to cast based on height; a tall female lead casted with a short male will require height adjustments for the film.

Let’s examine the heights of some popular actors:

  • Dustin Hoffman – 5’6″
  • Al Pacino – 5’6″
  • Ben Stiller – 5’7″
  • Humphrey Bogart – 5’8″
  • Robert Downey Jr. – 5’9″

There are many more great actors that are considered to be in the short-to-average height group. It just isn’t possible to have always have a great actor, who fits the character in mind with the required height. There are several ways that filmmakers can get around the limitations of an actor’s height, whether it be too short or too tall:

  • Shoes and boots.
  • Apple boxes for the actor to stand on these.
  • Force perspective shooting to create the illusion of more height.
  • Adjusting shooting angles.
  • Positioning and posture of the actor to affect visual height.
  • Trenches and risers.

The two main ways of making an actor’s height differ to reality are the apple box and shooting from different angle. For instance, to make someone look taller, the scene would be shot from a lower angle with the actor a bit further in the foreground. Other “tricks” are used at times.

Now while the next point is off topic, why does it matter how tall Tom Cruise is?  Does it really change the fact that he is an actor of high stature….you get the point.  Some actors are tall some are not. What’s the problem?

Even though height really doesn’t change too much in real life on film it can make a huge impact. Consider the Harry Potter films: what impact would Hagrid (being a “half-giant”) have had on the audience, if he was no taller than, say Professor McGonagall? Height tricks ensure audiences are able to really understand the height of the characters, that the movie producers are trying to address.