The most predictable take is when an actor relies on the script, other’s expectations and what they have seen before.
“Caring what other people think”
“Doing it Right”
“Playing it on the nose”
Those experiences lead to uninspired work. The fact of the matter is that everyone processes information differently. The same moment will hit each actor differently if they are in touch with where they are truly coming from.
When we work we don’t need to add unnecessary things to a scene to be interesting, but we don’t need to let go of who we are completely either.
If you are living it out, fully in a moment, the camera will capture an honest reaction to what is taking place. An actor needn’t ad lib or rewrite a word. They just need to authentically listen and respond accordingly.
I was recently working with an actress who was working through a scene for “The Good Wife”. The scene was very emotionally obligated and full of loss. There were moments when she was so completely there, tears would spontaneously spring to your eyes. There were others where I could see she was working to get somewhere and that didn’t allow for the fullness we had experienced previously.
I noted it was when she was needed to talk about LOVE. She kept looking for an inward feeling, in her chest, like you might assume love feels. However, this particular actress identified love as an external experience, geared more towards being surrounded by friends or community and had compared it to wearing a “warm fuzzy sweater”.
When I was able to guide her back towards feeling her feelings, not the ones she thought she should, the worked realigned to the beautiful place she had been. Successfully living out a scene like that is satisfying enough, but she had an epiphany that was so much more valuable. Here is how she put it:
“Thank you so much again for today. I had a revelation. You really helped me realize that as an actor I’ve trying to reach for my emotional life ‘inside the boat’ when for me, personally it’s the water that the boat moves on.. Mind blown!”
Casting Directors are always saying they want you. It is such a silly thing to say unless you understand what they mean. In a very real way, this was an Ah Ha moment for this actor.
My hope is that you all are having “Ah Ha Moments” all the time while the camera rolls
x Jen Krater