Thursday, January 8, 2015

What do the terms day player, co-star, guest star, recurring, regular recurring, and recurring regular mean?

Let's start with the ones that are clearest in terms of their use among professionals in television.

Day player and co-star are the same in terms of the work that is done. The only difference is that one term (day player) is contractual, and the term co-star is a credit.

If you are hired on a TV show to speak a few lines (usually between 1 and 10), and perform in 1 or 2 scenes, your contract will be a day player contract, meaning you are paid by the day - usually the SAG-AFTRA scale, plus ten. Day players with several scenes in different locations, or over a number of days, will sometimes be given a weekly contract.

A guest star is usually on a weekly contract (they are paid a weekly salary) and their credit is at the "top of the show," meaning it's at the beginning of the show as opposed to a co-star which is at the end of the show. As you might guess, a guest star has a bigger role that is an integral part of the story line.

A recurring role can be a co-star or guest star who appears in more than one episode as the same character.

Regular recurring, and recurring regular are a little less well-defined, but here's my take on the terms.

Regular recurring is a co-star who shows up on a somewhat regular basis. They may be in episode 2, then in episodes 5, 9, and 13. (In a 13 episode cable series.) Often this actor is not "on contract," meaning they are not critical to the story and if not available they could be written out of that episode.

A recurring regular is a character who is more central to the on-going story. For example, he may be the owner of a soda shop where the characters hang out and there are scenes at the shop every 2 or 3 episodes. Maybe he gives a few words of advice to the other characters. This actor may be given a contract because the producers want to be sure that he is available whenever they need him.

Hope many of these roles are in your near future.




  1. I've been looking over the BYU Acting Guidelines PDF example & the Amy Jo Berman example. I understand the roles of Supporting, Principal, Featured, etc. However, to list roles correctly for a crime show TV recre series & or episode, I fall into a gray line of understanding. Suggestions appreciated! Scenarios: 1... I'm the"murdered" victim "JOE SMITH" of the main character "JILL SMITH" on Snapped/Oxygen Channel, with no audio lines. 2... I'm the Ex-husband "JOHN" of the main character "JANE DOE" on Snapped/Oxygen Channel, with no audio lines, but get's visually seen being maced in the face by 2 thugs. 3... I'm "RESIDENT #1" that witnessed the "suspect" running away from a "murder" on Fatal Attraction/TV One, with 5 lines audio/mic up & heard. 4... I'm main attorney "JACK WILSON" for the main celeb character "CASSIE FRANK" on Enquiring Minds/ID Channel, no audio, improv lines only, but visually seen walking/taking.

    1. Hi Daniel - thanks for your question.

      Most of roles in your examples would fall under a "co-star" credit. I say, "most" because roles that are not regular roles, are sometimes open to negotiation. The credit being offered should be in the original breakdown that is sent by the casting director. Or, your agent should know.

      The other category for a small part with no lines is as an extra, with a "bit." In your example #1 - this could be an extra or a day player/co-star role. Example #2 could be an extra or a co-star (I personally wouldn't do that one for less than a co-star credit).
      Example #3 is a co-star role, and example #4 is either a co-star or guest star, but I'm a little confused by your description: "no audio, improv lines only …" If you have lines (even improvised ones), I would think they'd mic you for audio.

      I have had roles with ten lines and been given a "co-star" credit, and have had roles with less lines and been given a "guest-star" credit, which is why I say that they are sometimes open to negotiation. However, since a guest star role pays more then a co-star, producers may try to avoid giving a guest star credit. So it can also depend on how much the producer or directer wants you in the role.

      The other factor is that co-star usually only involves a day or two of shooting and is paid on a daily rate (hence the term, "day player"). A guest star will usually be on a weekly salary, even if it's only one week of work. However, co-stars also can be given weekly salaries, as I've gotten on a bunch of TV shows.

      As you can see, while there is some "standard" for credits, they are not necessarily carved in stone, and ultimately will be up to the producer.

      Again, the credit being offered should be stated in the description (the breakdown) sent by the casting director.

      Hope this helps. And let me know if you have other questions.


  2. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! I APPRECIATE THIS.... :) Several of these TV recre episodes shot here do not have mic/audio up. We have or can use "improv" lines to make the scene go smoother, but are seen walking/talking in some fashion that some have said could be used for a beginning demo reel, although no audio is heard. However, thanks again & I do value your time in the reply!


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