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On Method Acting

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?

To Slap

I am in the middle of watching the movie Sideways. Paul Giamatti is amazing. I just realized something. Everything I need to be a great actor is in the eyes of my scene partner. Its all there. Watching, listening, believing what they say, not believing what they say…

Two weeks ago I had an audition for a new television series. The casting breakdown stated that the Producers and Director would be present. Yikes. That always unsettles me.  But I made up my mind that I was walking into that room thinking about one person. Not the producer. Not the director. Not the casting director. The one person I need to focus on… is the reader. That seemingly insignificant person reading the lines. I need to MESS WITH THEM! I need to move them. To listen to them. To challenge them. That is my goal. So I walked into the room and instead of being intimidated by the panel behind the desk, I was totally focused on the most important person in the room, the reader. My goal in an audition is to disturb, startle, disrupt, break, woo, slap, sting, stab, offend, love, and win the heart of the reader.

It was a great audition. I didn’t get the part. Rejection is part of the journey.

A Tale of Two Auditions – Part 2

For Part 1, click here:

It’s Wednesday. 5:00pm. I am sitting in a waiting room with a handful of actors. This is the second callback for the commercial we are all vying for. There are eight of us in the room. They will choose two for the commercial. Four dogs, one bone. Let the games begin.

I am paired with a guy who looks about 10 years older than me.  I ask him if he wants to run lines together while we wait. He says no. We are teammates. But we are also competing against each other. Its awkward.

Our names are called. The client is in another room watching us on a TV feed. We run the scene once. Its stiff. We run it again, its loosening up. We run it again, its good. We switch roles and run it 3 more times and it feels great. The director is laughing. I am smiling as we step out of the casting room.

They have asked us all to stay in the waiting room so they can see some alternate pairings. What started as an audition for 80+ actors was cut down to a callback for twenty. Now there are only eight.

And then, the moment. A door opens and one of the women from casting comes out holding a piece of paper. “Anthony, are you here?” My heart races.

“Yes.” I reply.

“OK, you can go home. Sorry about that. You were great. It has nothing to do with you honey.” She smiles and I know her words are sincere. And then there were seven…

I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt. It does. But there is a scripture that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Who knows? Maybe the casting director will remember me and bring me in for something even better. Here’s to being an optimist ;o)

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