Tired of the cliché movie job

Have you ever noticed how movie characters in mainstream films always have the same jobs?     Writer/Musician/Artist,   Architect and Doctor

There are variations on these careers, but seldom does Hollywood venture far.

Here’s a list of the last three movies I’ve seen and what job the main character did:

“Orphan” – architect

“A Perfect Getaway” – screenwriter

“500 Days of Summer” – writer/architect  (review coming!)

500 Days of Sunshine  

(Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom in “500 Days of Summer.”)

There are exceptions:

“The Hurt Locker” – military

“Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince” – wizard

“Moon” – astronaut

“Public Enemies” – bank robbers

However, mainstream movies seem to be stuck in a rut when it comes to assigning a character a job. Independent film does a little better, but not much. It seems most characters in quirky independents are writers, though occasionally they work at Retail Rodeo, like Jennifer Aniston in “The Good Girl.”


(Jennifer Aniston as Justine in “The Good Girl”)

So what do you think?   What career path should Hollywood assign to the next main character appearing in a mainstream romantic comedy?   Because if I see one more architect”¦ I’m going to”¦ I’m going too”¦ well, I’ll probably just write another ranting post.


  1. Great post … the lack of imagination flowing through Hollywood affects not just the plots but the characters, too.


  2. Now I’m going to overthink all of my character’s professions, but you do have a valid point. However, since I’m an artist (and a writer) I tend to apply those talents to my people cuz it’s what I know. In my current work I also have a social worker, bicycle shop owner and a contractor. Are those better/more realistic? Thanks for the thoughts.


  3. So for some reason this old post has been hit a lot this month (September 2010). So I went back to read it and discovered I never answered Suz’s question.

    I think writers often write characters who are writers because that is what we know. I know I’ve been a culprit of this (in my fiction writing days). They always say “write what you know” and writers know writing. But as writers we should be able to imagine other professions, right?
    I like contractor… I can’t remember when I’ve seen a movie or book with a contractor as the lead. Will he have great hair and big muscles? 🙂


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