The actor’s job is to de-fictionalize the fiction. If you need a lemon tree but have never seen one, you will create some kind of lemon tree for yourself, and the more details you give it, the more you’ll accept you’ve seen it. Most acting lies in the minute knowledge of what you see and what you do. Anything that goes through your imagination has a right to live. A script is never going to give you something that belongs to you. That is your job. The script will only indicate what something is. You will have to make it come alive.
As you work on scenes the aliveness of it is what you act, not the facts. The facts will remain dead until you realise that each thing has life. As actors, you must give us the miracle of life, not the facts. For the spectator you must give back life and not death.
- Stella Adler
In ‘real life’ the mother begging for her child’s life, the criminal begging for a pardon, the atoning lover pleading for one last chance — these people give no attention whatever to their own state, and all attention to the state of that person from whom they require their object. This outward-directedness brings the actor in ‘real life’ to a state of magnificent responsiveness and makes his/her progress thrilling to watch. On the stage, similarly, it is the progress of the outward-directed Actor, who behaves with no regards to his/her personal state, but with all regard for the responses of his antagonists, which thrills the viewers - David Mamet
Note : Buy True or False by David Mamet and read it - one of THE best books written on the craft of acting. Ever
To be an actor you have to be a child - Paul Newman
Marlon Brando on Acting
Risk is the thing that separates real artist and true heroes from the rest of the pack. Risk is what makes people admire us. It’s what everybody says they do but, let’s be realistic, very few actually do. And, it’s what drives a great actor to go to the places emotionally, physically and even spiritually that less courageous actors wouldn’t dare. It’s what separates the geniuses from the average.
When an acting teacher says things like, “I want you to raise the stakes,” what he or she is really saying is they want you to invest yourself more. Invest yourself personally, emotionally, psychologically and relationally. It also means you’re probably not willing to do what it takes to make the scene work. You must be willing to make a fool of yourself, fall flat on your face, humiliate yourself, be judged negatively by others, be laughed at or to expose a dark, screwed up side of your personality. If you care what others think, you are doomed. It’s a huge risk to put your ego aside and be willing to humble yourself for the sake of a great role. But, you must be willing to do it in order to succeed at acting.
How dedicated are you to your acting? Do you put your heart and your soul into your work? Do you practice your craft no matter what, no excuses? Is acting getting the attention it deserves from you? Morgan Freeman started acting in his teens but didn’t make it as a star until he was 50 years old! Did you catch that? Morgan was 50 years old when he finally got his big break.
When you’re on stage or in class or at an audition are you willing to make a fool of yourself? Or do you care too much about what other people think about you? Are you willing to embarrass yourself? Are you willing to show people how screwed up you really are? Casting Director April Webster once said that very few actors are willing to make themselves look screwed up or unappealing. That’s why we keep seeing the same bad guys/girls and “unattractive actors” over and over on screen. They’re booking all the roles and making all the money because very few actors are willing to go there. Are you? Are you willing to look ridiculous?
Are you willing to completely let your guard down, forget about acting entirely, just be yourself and authentically communicate to your scene partner. Most actors get too locked into their technique and their line readings and their pre-practiced presentation of a scene to actually let it all go and relate to the person in front of them. And, it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. It takes a lot of guts and hard work. Be willing to take that risk!! Are you willing to let your guard down and authentically relate? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Risk it all and go for it! If you say you’re an actor, be an actor. Devote your life to it. Spend your time practicing it. Push yourself every opportunity you get. Challenge yourself and stop worrying about what other people think. Be willing to explore those deep emotional and psychological dark spots in your life. TV director, David Nutter, once said, “The thing you hate most about yourself is probably the thing that will make you the most money.” Embrace it, take a risk and let yourself go there. How much guts did it take Picasso, a well-trained, highly skilled painter who was practiced at the art of traditional painting, to start putting both eyes on one side of the head? I would love to see you become the next Picasso of the acting world.
To be an actor, a true actor, you have to be broken hearted - Shia Labeouf
“After tearing apart the script and getting a handle on the deeper wish of the character… After all of the interpretation, personalization and particularization… After working relentlessly on the physical impediments and habits so they have a life of their own… After making all of your choices about the beats and objectives, the doings and activities… After you have finally learned the words so they are planted in your veins… After you have rehearsed the blocking and actions to the point you begin moving through the play without thinking about what’s coming next… After the weeks of ruthlessly bringing the part to life and making attempt after attempt to discover the hidden layers of humanity that link your soul and the written words… After all this homework is done and you stand backstage ready to make your first entrance on opening night… Now what? Where is there left to go? That is my question for you.
The only useful answer is that you now must return to the present moment. Of course, this implies that you are an actor who actually has the ability to work in the present moment. And this means that you have the rare ability to allow yourself, in every moment, to be taken once again to where you do not know you are going because you are ready, willing and able to respond to all the subtle nuances of NEW LIFE your partners are giving to you in each moment. Every night, this is the life of the play, this is the seed of the joy of creation itself, and this is the rare event of a living theatre which can make a difference in the hearts of those who witness it.”
The audience does not come to see us say the line, but rather to see what it cost us, as actors, to say what must be said, do what must be done - Grotowski