How Many Hours A Week Do TV Actors Really Work?


I was always curious about the working hours of the actors doing daily soaps. Especially the ones that run for years. We know television shooting is time-consuming, and these shows telecast daily. I wonder how long do these TV actors work in a week.

In a shocking revelation, leading actress Kristen Bell from the TV series Veronica Mars ( 2004-2019) which ran for 14 years, said,

 “I was a little bit stunned at how difficult it is to shoot a show like this. Because it really is a huge undertaking to have a stylized film aspect like noir and be out doing a lot of location [shoots], having a lot of night shoots. It was a real undertaking [involving] … 16 or 17 hour days.”

Kristen Bell, “Veronica Mars”

So, How many hours a week do TV actors work? 

So, the TV actors spend 80 to 100 hours per week considering they work 5 days a week and 16- 18 hours a day. Somedays, they end up shooting for 20 hours.

It may be true for the lead actors but definitely not for the part-time actors or actors with lesser screen time. If labor laws protect the actors, they should only work for 44 hours in the United States. 

But why do they work for so long? If you are thinking “Money,” well, the answer is not that straightforward. 

Is it for the Money?

Television shows don’t differ from OTT series to a large extent. But they are really taxing for the team as they work on it day in and day out for years. Today, we see a lot of well-produced shows in terms of visual effects, realistic makeups, and elaborate sets. But these go hard on the actors.

They end up prepping more, and the elaborate prosthetic makeup may consume hours before the actual shoot begins. Another few hours to take that off after the shoot as well. So, most actors will agree that it is not true. The money is for the grind.

Also, very few of them live the luxurious lives that their followers imagine. Equally important, it comes at a price, including working for long hours. The truth is that there is no specific answer to the number of hours that a TV actor works. 

It is because several issues affect that. Let’s take a look at factors that determine the working hours of an actor. 

11 Significant Factors Determining Working Hours per Week for TV Actors

Filming TV fiction includes time for pre-production, production, post-production, and promotions. Based on the requirements of each stage, working hours vary from one actor to the other. The following reasons are why acting periods differ from one actor to the other.

  • Length Of The Role

TV entails a large ensemble cast. Some are the main characters. Some play the second lead, whereas the others have supporting roles. We have actors with no lines who only appear on the screen, and that’s it. So, depending on the part, which determines how often they will be acting, actors may have to perform for many hours or less.

  • Quality of the Role

It is also essential to know that some roles mean acquiring new skills. For instance, an actor acting in an action film will need some physical combat training. That would take weeks or months of additional time spent on the movie. 

The same applies to someone playing the role of a foreigner. He has to ensure that the speech pattern and accent are perfect for the part. Any role out of the comfort zone of the actor will demand an increase in the hours.

  • The Location

Some TV setups are a particular venue or studio, whereas others require changing locations now and then. If the situation is the latter, then the actors have to spend extra time commuting. 

Consequently, they end up acting for longer hours than their counterpart, who doesn’t have to change in venue at all, or the frequency isn’t much.

  • Makeup

When it comes to some roles, especially those revolving around aliens such as vampires and werewolves, makeup plays a huge role in ensuring the actor looks as real as possible. 

The makeup, often called prosthetic application, is very time-consuming. For instance, a makeup artist may need between 4 and 5 hours to achieve the look. As an actor, that means an additional 4 to 5 hours of working.

  • The Production Setup

Setting up the venue also takes a lot of time. There is a need to set up the camera, lights, and props. Since it is hard to tell how long it will take and when the actor will be needed to act, it becomes necessary to show up early. 

In other cases, the crew and the props are using the same means of transport. Sometimes they get lucky, and it takes a short period, whereas there are times when they have to wait for several hours for the set to be ready due to production delays.

  • The Length of the Program

Some TV series are longer than others. For example, you can’t compare the amount of time spent acting a movie with the one spent on a television series. Logically, a series’s actor will work longer than the one portraying in a low duration show.

  • The Director

Different directors may have various perceptions of perfect, but one common thing is that there is no proceeding to the next part before perfecting the current one. It would mean retaking scenes which could see you work for a lot of time. 

The scenes need to be covered from different angles, which could mean more working hours. The more retakes per set, the more hours an actor will work in a week. 

  • Post-production

After shooting a movie, automated dialogue replacement (ADR), often called looping, may be necessary. It is all about going to a studio and rerecording some lines. The reasons include replacing lines, adding new lines, or recording if the actual shooting wasn’t precise. 

Some scenes may also require reshooting, or a need to add an entirely new setting may arise. The more the shooting and reshooting, the more hours an actor will work in a week.

  • Promotion

When the time to promote the series or the show comes, the actor could work overtime. People need to know that the TV program exists but, equally important, look forward to watching it. That includes coverage on the web, print, radio, and TV, which would mean many hours of interviews. 

Other methods involve traveling across the globe, going to talk shows, and attending gala promotional events. All that requires a lot of time; hence an actor has to work for many hours.

  • Contract

In most cases, the actor signs a contract indicating the number of hours they should work in a day. If you sign, then it bides you to working for a certain period. Some people get to work full-time while others are part-time hours. Contracts differ from producer to producer and country to country.

  1. The Country

Also, how many hours a week an actor works can depend on the country that the actor works in. Based on the rules on individual countries and their traditions regarding the filming industry, one actor may work for longer hours in a week, depending on their states. 

Based on labor laws, it is 44 hours in the US, between 40 and 44 hours in China, 45 hours in India40 hours in Japan, 48 hours in the UK, 52 hours in South Korea, 35 hours in France, and 38 hours in Australia.

However, some actors like those in India lack a corresponding law. Consequently, they may work for up to 84 hours a week. Most contracts propose 16 hours a day in the United States but can go up to 20 hours.

There is a law in the UK protecting child workers. So that they can balance school and work, they can only act for 12 hours a week. Others have the labor laws but end up working for long hours yet remain silent in fear of losing their roles.

CountryHow many hours a week do TV actors work
United States80 to 100 hours
China40 to 44 hours
India45 to 84 hours
Japan40 hours
United Kingdom48 hours for adults but 12 hours for child actors
South Korea52 hours
France35 hours
Australia38 hours
Country-wise Weekly Hours

 

 How does an aspiring actor handle the punishing schedules?

It is very demotivating for an aspiring actor to know about these punishing schedules. The best solution is to work out to keep fit and maintain a perfect body shape. 

Before entering the filming industry, you should be prepping to work for long hours. The worse is that in addition to being long, they are also irregular. So mind relaxation and meditation activities really help. Also, the best way is to practice acting. A visit to a TV set and watching a long shoot is not a bad idea.

It takes a ton of dedication and hard work to become a renowned actor, and once that happens, you will realize that the efforts were worth it.

Final Words

There is no specific number of hours that an actor should work in a week. We know it is clear that it depends on a wide array of factors. They include the role, location, set, film, makeup, other crew members, labor roles of the country, contract, and cosmetics. There you go; actors need to work hard for their money. It is not what it seems to their fans.

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