Saturday, July 13, 2013

Acting is not Easy: You are Robert De Niro

Adrian Brody in The Pianist
When Adrian Brody took on the role of The Pianist, he first spent six months living in a tiny one room apartment where he starved himself. Would you go to this length to prepare for a role? How about if you were offered a few million to do it? What would you do for a role if you have that kind of money in return?

I think it was my acting teacher who said that Meryl Streep  never goes with her first choice in doing a role. She always goes back to look for other choices and that's one way that she comes up with the great work she does.

So now if you are just doing indie roles or low budget projects and you get paid nothing or next to nothing, or even scale, do you just blow off the role and don't put mush effort into it? Maybe you do spend some time to go over it and try a few things and then you're ready to go, right? It's not like it's a big production. But you know that this is not going to get you there. You know that to get the big roles you need to first have the ability to come across like you can do them. You need to go through the process of considering second and third choices.  Maybe spending six months in a tiny apartment is what you need to do. Maybe you already live in those conditions anyway.

So how about if you're playing an adult entertainer? Would you try to land a part time job doing some pole dancing? Would you go out and try to get some work doing internet porn or even just soft porn to advertise internet porn? That would put you in touch with the role, wouldn't it?

Okay, so you won't do porn or pole dancing. But you do have Google. You could spend an hour a day for a few weeks to research the role. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to go to some lengths to take your performance to a new level?

I've heard it said that some actors, like Robert De Niro, don't bother much with this kind of extensive prep. They just show up and do the role. Maybe that works for them. After all they're Robert De Niro. Are you at that point? Maybe you are. But what does it hurt to do some reseach and consider other choices?

My acting teacher once said to try and read through your lines with different emotions. Read through them all laughing. Then again crying. Then again angry or sad or happy. You'll find a lot of choices that way that you hadn't thought of.  Every character is the lead in their own life. You character is a lead. Every character has complexities. They are sometimes good, sometimes bad. They go through things. Think about what kind of crap your character has had to go through. Everybody has problems. You character has to have problems.  So what are they? You character has secrets. There are things you would prefer that no one else knows about you. Maybe you do share things with some intimate friends. How about your character? They do the same things.

Then again you don't want to get nerved racked over what choices to do. You don't want to show up
at a performance as a bundle of nerves. A little nervous energy may be good. But it's most important to be completely relaxed and at ease before you go on. It's great to do the prep and consider all the choices and work out ways to do it. You may show up with the ability to perform the role a number of different ways. You can show that off. But at the moment you go on, you have to forget everything. At that moment you are now that character. Forget the choices. All that is in your head and decided before. Now you simply become the character and you react as that character. It's maybe a bit crazy, skitzo. You are not expecting your partner's lines. You just react. You have to let everything go. At that point the prep is over and you are Robert De Niro.

Acting is not easy.

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