As an actor, it can be challenging to figure out exactly where to best place your efforts. How can you fit into a certain type, yet stand out from the crowd? What are the most efficient ways to refine your craft? Here are ten celebrated actors who offer valuable advice for actors to consider.
“The only advice I’ve ever offered young actors is to try and figure out how to do it for yourself. Never be caught with the idea that you can imitate someone else’s success. As much as you might admire what someone else does, don’t try and imitate that. Find your own way. Find your own voice. Find your own feelings. And that will give you a unique opportunity.”
“I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put [in] a period—but it’s not necessarily where somebody else would. I think everybody should talk the way they want. You go to school and you all sit there and all learn to do the same thing. I guess it’s necessary, but it’s too bad also in a way. Kids, you know, get kind of restrained in a lot of ways. I probably wouldn’t get a job as an English teacher.”
“I have a process … hopefully other people do, too … But one of the things that I do when I collaborate is, whatever the other actor gives me, I use. I don’t go home and prepare a performance and then come to the set and use that performance that I prepared at home. Whatever I work with at home, I only take it to a certain extent. And then when I go on stage, I prepare myself for the fact that the other actor may give me something completely different.
Because what has happened in the past, and I see with other actors, they’ll tell another actor how to act. And the reason why they do that is because they’ve already planned what they want to do. And that other actor, whatever they’re giving them, is interfering with that. That’s not how it works! You gotta say ‘yes’ to your partner. If they’re giving you a line in a certain way, guess what? You gotta get up off your ‘A-double-snakes’ and use that. That’s my process of collaboration.”
“I guess when anyone asks me, ‘What should I do?’ I’m just like, ‘Just do anything. Anything will lead to something else. And you just gotta get out there and take a chance, even if it’s unpaid work. Whatever it is, it will lead to something better.”
“For me, there is no greater training for an actor than classical theater because it is the hardest language to master and it is the most challenging material to act out. The feeling you get from doing Shakespeare or a Greek tragedy is one of invincibility. So my advice to any aspiring actor is to start on the stage.”
“Go do plays. Go to the theater. You can make money, but always go back to the theater where you can learn your craft. [What] you learn there is just as important for the camera as the theater. It gives you such confidence, because if you can play and be heard in front of a live audience, then there’s nothing to scare you in front of a camera. So do that because then it will change your whole body. It’s not just looking at you in a close-up, it’s your whole body and your whole voice and your projection.”
“I’ve learned a lot about preparation over the years, and actually it’s so important to let the preparation go because you can get stuck in this little sort of tunnel of your own, beetling away and preparing who you think the character is. But the reality is that you have to leave so many sort of blank spaces for other people to fill by way of the director and other actors and the things that they think and also what they are bringing to the project through the roles that they’re playing or what the director has to say.”
“I tell [aspiring actors] to stop trying to be cool because it doesn’t work, to instead learn the craft and be disciplined. It’s not a competition. Being in competition with people is a waste of time. How do you compete? At the awards? You have five people who are happy to have been nominated, then you have four losers later, pretending to be happy. It’s all bull—-. What’s more important is to keep trying and to consistently deliver the best you have to offer.”
“Deal with rejection because no matter what you’re trying to achieve, if you can’t do that, then you will likely give up.”
“I’m always trying to push myself in every area of the arts, whether it is acting, singing, or dancing. Whether it be perfecting the dance that you already know or learning a new style of dance; whether it be trying to hit a note you never thought you could hit; or play a character that is outside of your range, then that’s something that I want to continue to do and continue to grow. I think if you stop challenging yourself, then you’ve stopped yourself. But there’s no limit to the things that you’re capable of, so I think I’m going to continue to challenge myself.”
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