The job of an actor and by job, I mean the nuts and bolts; be on time, rehearse, learn your lines, study your script, understand what’s’ going on in the scene.
Now the real job of an actor; not to act. To ask yourself the same question every day – am I believable as a human being. Sounds crazy right? But as a Meisner student my first ever acting coach told the class from day 1 – never say the word character in my class – there is no such thing. There is only ever you as a person working through an imaginary set of circumstances but no matter how far fetched those circumstances may be, the result is always the same – find the truth in every moment, react as you would react, feel as you would feel and do all of that in the guise of someone else.
Think of any great actor – Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Morgan Freeman (some of my favorites) and recall how not once do you ever think ‘oh thats Denzel he’s a pilot today’ you believe that they are that person they draw you in to their story, now think of a time where you watched an actor trying desperately to act – it feels different right? You find yourself calling bullshit, I call bullshit on myself all the time – I act the role, I add up all the numbers 2 plus 2 equals 4 and yet it doesn’t make sense because you’re pretending to feel, pretending to react – when the only way is really to feel, really react. Listening is the only thing we ever really need as actors but every day nerves, fear, projection, planning, stop us from really listening, from being in the moment and from finding our truth.
Acting is a job like any other, its hard and often not glamorous, and sure getting to live your life on any given day as an astronaut, a police officer, a hit-woman, mafia boss, drug dealer mother of two, FBI agent, farmer – whatever it may be, the research and the understanding of the role may differ but the delivery will always be the same – you are you a living breathing human being, deeply layered – you as a person are never just one thing and neither can be any ‘character’ you ever play be either
In conclusion for all the countless times I’ve heard actors ask the question in class, am I a good actor? I’ve always thought the more important question is, how well can I not act?
Scene Study from my On Camera Krakower Class.