The Actor Factor #234

After the casting workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago and my own casting sessions where Ive been auditioning actors myself, Ive been pondering the process of an actor. Every time I see another actors work, or have him/her audition for me, I wonder where they came from. What brought them here, to this place, in character and out. Sometimes those thoughts stem from a fascinated approval. Great job. Good for you. So happy you came to audition. Sometimes those thoughts strike from sheer horror. Oh my God, what were you thinking? WHO told you that this would be a good idea?

I've been a working, studying, suffering, celebrating and surviving actor for 15 years. I haven't won an Oscar and I'm definitely (obviously) not famous. I'm not working as HARD at it as I used to, bit I'm not done yet either. I'm not the BEST actor in the world. I'm not the worst either. I HAVE booked a few things. More than many. Compared to someone who you would consider a 'successful or accomplished actor, Ive book and worked very little. I still love it. I love and respect all actors who do it right. Success or not. Those who do their homework, put the time and energy into their craft. I have the utmost admiration for those people. I learned SO much more about acting when I started writing and directing. Writing and Directing are totally different but enable you to see the craft of acting and even the BUSINESS of acting in a totally different light. THATS one thing every actor should do... pursue avenues of insight. I think any and every kind of artist can benefit from stepping back and approaching his or her work from a new angle, but sometimes you need to follow a path that might not even take you there. Inevitably... it will. But an actor should always be looking for ways expand their own awareness of what the HELL it is that you're doing. In a broad sense, in a smaller, more specific sense. As it pertains to your career and as it pertains to your character, your scene, or that tiny little moment inside of the scene that you can't figure out.

I had a great teacher back in New York who used to break an idea or a concept down into analogies. He would explain a character or a scene one way, then he would explain it another way... and another way... he would find countless ways to describe the lesson or the point he was trying make. Eventually, he would hit one that was mine. He would say it in such a way that it totally made sense to me. Explanation #234 RESONATED. I could see, hear and feel it 110%. I loved that about his classes.. I knew he was going to get around to spelling it all out in way that made sense to me. If I just kept listening. If I waited for it. All those other explanations and perspectives were describing the same thing.... but those painted pictures were for someone else. I don't know if everyone in that class had the same appreciate for the methods being taught there (the teachers always said that their teachings were ANTI-method). But I hope at least SOME of them were. Hopefully the other actors in the room were gobbling up the analogies and rational that was made specifically for them. That's one of the great things about acting. Its about finding truth and expressing that truth in front of an audience or the camera.

"Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality." — Lee Strasberg

And there is no one way to do it. There are a BILLION ways to do it. There a billion ways to hone your craft and create realities. If you are not finding your way. or if you feel like your lost. Keep looking. Keep digging. The answers are out there. YOUR answers are out there. Actors are supposed to be creating and expressing realities that reflect the world we know. The world we love and hate. That same world... the one we face every day...  is full of opportunities that can take an actor to a whole new level. Writing and Directing are just two easy ones that make sense. People watching is ind of a cliche acting school suggestion, but it can still make way for a breakthrough. I've had teachers tell me to go run through Washington Square Park waving my arms, dancing and singing. A person who wants to be a good actor has to be willing to try new things, try EVERYTHING. I never did that one though. Running around like a lunatic in Washington Square Park just ain't for me.... BUT....

Robert Downey Jr? You betcha. Watch this 2 minute video of him running around NYC in his underwear, talking to people on the street. Its insane. Kind of annoying depending on how you look at it. Many people find him annoying. For anyone trying to achieve ultimate truth in their art.... take some notes... this is one way to do it...

Robert Downey Jr is a different breed altogether. Which is one of the reason why he is where he is. YES he is somewhat of a tortured soul and he's had his trouble with drugs, the law and life in General. That's another story. It still takes a tremendous amount of courage to put yourself out there as an actor. Drugs or no drugs, he can and always will stand out as one of those people were BORN to do this.

Would you do something like that? Could you do something like that?

I'm gettng off track now, and Ive got to go. But I'll be back with more of my own thoughts and theology on the art and craft of acting.

For what it's worth.... which might be nothing.


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