I have a secret.
In order to get an actor who is “acting” to cut it out, I sometimes play a few tricks. My favorite is one I learned from an acting teacher of mine and I stole it because it can work so well. I’m not sure if it qualifies as an acting technique exactly, it’s really just a quick adjustment.
I was recently working with an actor in his 20s with talent and experience, but who sometimes gets caught “acting”.
I didn’t believe him when he spoke. And he didn’t believe himself.
I tried asking him some questions about the character and the scene…that helped some. We talked about what the character wanted (objective) and how he was going after it (intention). That helped too. But we still weren’t there.
I noticed on one line he was really moving his face a lot. Eyebrows up and down. And using an odd tonality that didn’t feel authentic or sound natural.
“What was that last line you just said? Can you just read it to me?” I asked him.
“Sure”. He did. And it was actually weirdly perfect.
“Ahhh, you hear that!!? Just say the line.”
And he did. He wasn’t thinking about it and he totally left himself alone. He just said it. And a lightbulb went off for him.
He was working way too hard. There was no room for trust or listening or sending ideas while muscling his way through it.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not a proponent of the “mumble and make it sound natural” school of acting. I’m saying that once you have a deep understanding of the material and have worked it, you need to be able to let it go and truly leave yourself alone. Trust the work and yourself.
What does it mean to you to “leave yourself alone”? Like this little “acting technique”? Any epiphanies?
More on this soon. It’s so super important!