I have slept in a dark, musty cold cellar for the last 4 nights. I am doing this to understand a character I am portraying. I am a Method Actor.
OK, so not everything in the above paragraph is true. But for the first time in my career, I can think of myself as a Method Actor. I thought Method Acting meant sleeping in cold cellars or smoking crack if the character demanded it. I have since learned that Method Acting is basically just tapping into your own emotions and memories to represent a character. Sounds simple, so I gave it a try…
I was playing the role of a guy who had just had his hand cut off by an escaped convict. Now there’s a bad start to your day. In the scene, I hold my bleeding stump in a state of shock and pain. Following a Method exercise, I re-created the worst pain I have ever experienced: tearing the cartilage in my knee during a severe car crash. I re-lived the car crash right down to the smallest details… the sound of the crash, the fire in my knee, the taste of the chalky powder from the airbag… I re-created it all and sat in that pain. Then I kind of applied that pain to my bleeding stump… I added the sensation of holding my wrist to a candle flame while being on the verge of passing out from extreme exhaustion and… Voila! A perfect bleeding stump cocktail.
This sounds quite morbid doesn’t it? It’s not! Really. I was sitting on a very comfortable couch at the time. Anyway, it worked like a charm! And Method Acting is what helped me connect to the part. So don’t knock Method Acting just because its been misused and misunderstood. It’s only the Extremist Fundamentalist Actors who sleep in cold cellars. The rest of us sleep on the couch in our friends place while we wait for our big break.
Do you think method acting is dangerous?
As an actor, I have practiced my Oscar acceptance speech every year for 12 years. This is normal. I’m pretty sure every actor does this. But one thing I haven’t prepared is how to react if I am interrupted mid-speech by a belligerent red-head. I guess I should have an audible ready just in case…
That said, the terrorist attack has resulted in a whole lot of positive publicity for the Oscar-Winning film Music By Prudence. “All things work together for the good” as the scriptures say. So kudos to Roger Ross Williams and his team. I’m sure this Oscar experience has been a dream come true… that turned into a nightmare, and back to a dream.
Most actors, including myself, LOVE acting but HATE auditions. The audition circuit is like going to job interview after job interview- it’s just not fun. But I learned something from the star of the movie “The Notebook” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”. Rachel McAdams is said to give some of the best auditions in the industry. I heard her say in an interview recently that she LOVES auditions. She what?! She loves them because they give her a chance to do what she loves most: act.
Then a friend of mine who is a brilliant pianist told me a cool story… He told me that when he was growing up he would play piano in these big competitions. He always looked forward to them because it meant a chance to play on some of the nicest pianos in the world. At the competition all the other performers were intimidated and shaky and would often make clumsy mistakes out of sheer nerves. He always played his best in these environments and he usually came in first or second place. “Some of those other competitors practiced more than me… they might have been better then me… but they were so uptight that their gift couldn’t shine.”
So that got me re-thinking the audition circuit. I promised myself that the next audition I had I would ENJOY. I would see as a chance to have fun doing what I love!
So yesterday I had a voiceover audition downtown… The audition was for a General Motors Car Commercial and it was about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. They wanted me to sound “young, fresh, urban and hip” and I read with another actress who was using a Parisian accent. Interesting huh? Hip Hop meets french toast. Anyway, I really had fun with it. I enjoyed myself.
So here comes the really cool part… as I was writing this blog (no joke) my agent called and told me I got the part!!! How cool is that!? And it may even become a campaign with a number of spots! I don’t want to count my chickens before the eggs are hatched though… I’m just happy to have this one! Whoo-Hoo! Thank you Rachel McAdams! And thank you to my pianist friend, Michael.