Based on Michel Faber’s novel of the same name, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin invites audiences into a parallel alien world where Scarlett Johansson plays an otherworldly seductress luring unsuspecting men into a van. Much has been made that Glazer had the actress perform this erotic stunt in reality, adding a fascinating layer to Glazer’s murky, hypnotic world. Eventually the entranced men were made aware of the truth and consented to be part of the film, which explores constructs of desire and power. It’s one of the stranger ways non-professional actors have been used in cinema. Here are ten other films starring non-actors in strange roles to rival it.
A true homegrown affair, director Harmony Korine took a fascinating approach to casting, populating his debut feature Gummo with non-professional actors (faces we won’t soon forget), combing the streets of his hometown of Nashville, local bowling alleys, and even fast food restaurants looking for his stars. Korine also featured childhood friends in the nihilistic indie about the lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town. The director set the stage for his “bracingly realistic and hauntingly dreamlike” Midwestern drama in the actual homes of Nashville residents, all left untouched by production crew. The stars were outfitted in thrift store “wardrobe,” sourced by star Chloë Sevigny. Gummo took the ultimate biographical approach. “I just wanted to show these kids, kids beating each others brains in. I wanted to show what it was like to sniff glue. I didn’t want to judge anybody,” the filmmaker stated in an interview with artist Mike Kelley. “This is why I have very little interest in working with actors. [Non-actors] can give you what an actor can never give you: pieces of themselves.”