When I was a young actress a hundred years ago, we didn’t have Casting Director workshops or Producer-Director summits. It was just us in a room with our chosen coach doing the work that we loved. We practiced for hours a day for years. Nowadays, there seems to be so much emphasis on words and instant results. Call me crazy but I don’t know how that leads to getting you good enough to land consistent work.
I guess you can define good actors as those who turn a bunch of words into impulses that stimulate spontaneity and simulate life. So words + impulse = spontaneity + life. But in order to get to a place where impulses flow spontaneously you have to find the way your acting instrument makes that happen. To do that, we’re back to the coach in the room practicing for years. And a search for a foolproof technique to use when creating a part.
Many of us who work go from scenes in class to leads in shows. That happened to me. There were no film acting classes a hundred years ago, either. I spent the first day of filming on a steep learning curve. Fortunately, they didn’t fire me. But, by that time, I had spent so much time in that room that I was able to deliver a solid performance, even after a 13-hour day fraught with numerous technical difficulties.
Good actors are also in love with their work. They get irritable and antsy when they’re not doing it. Al Pacino says, “I act or I die.” Just watch Looking for Richard to see how obsessed he is with getting the role right. There’s a satisfaction when what you conjure up in your head can be seen in your work. Not only that, loving the work sustains you during those times when roles are scarce and some mindless job pays the rent.
So, like Al Pacino, find the love in your work. It’ll sustain you through almost everything.