It's not Shakespearean days. It's not the 1960s. That's the point.
So, suddenly, all actors must restrict
their skills set? Where do the restrictions end? Is the new rule skin colour and ethnicity only, or is it every other human variation?
For centuries actors have used a huge range of chameleon-like skills, but now they must remain within their own physical type?
Marina Sirtis - a British actor of Greek descent, based in USA, and known to us for playing a half-Betazoid alien - recently accepted a role in "NCIS", Orli Elbaz of the Israeli intelligence organization, Mossad. Sirtis uses yet another accent not her own, expands her skill set, and is quite convincing. But she should have stepped away from the part and let it go to a genuine Israeli actress?
One of the most praised stage roles is "The Elephant Man" by Bernard Pomerance, which won a Tony Award for Best Play in 1979. The production opted not to recreate John Merrick's physical deformities with makeup but to have the leading actor (including both Mark Hamill and David Bowie) play the role barefaced
, so that Merrick's humanity, not monstrosity, would be emphasized. (I guess you'll say this isn't 1979, but acting without specialized makeup is a specific acting skill.)
Acting also comes from within. Physical appearance is just one element, and just because a particular acting performance is going to be on the big screen, why should we suddenly start restricting the actor's craft in one category?
I'm still not understanding why Benedict Cumberbatch has done a disservice to all swarthy male actors of the world by accepting the part of John Harrison, nor why JJ Abrams has committed a crime by hiring who he felt had given the best audition.