Being an Actor: Weird Stuff, Part Two

On camera for an indie feature.

Two characters sitting in the kitchen peeling potatoes and talking about the husband of one of them.  They get to the end of the “text,” as we call it.  The dialogue, the lines, the scene, the script, the shooting script, the end of the scene, okay, okay.


Actors do their jobs; they are professionals; they don’t do anyone else’s work.  It’s the director’s job to end the scene when he is satisfied with the take.  An actor’s job is to keep in character till the director says, “cut.”  Just because you got nuttin’ to say, it does not mean you are done acting.  Acting is being; acting is doing.  Acting is NOT simply talking or enunciating.  And, your job is to be the character, not simply to say the words and then stop being the character.


So, end of the text, they still keep acting.  They keep up the emotional tenor of the scene.  They keep their relationship to each other; they keep the reality of the previous conversation about the husband.  Minerva pats Julietta on the hand.  They peel more potatoes.  Julietta starts to cry. Minerva (who is the character), feeling uncomfortable when Julietta (who is the character) cries.  She holds her hand tighter.  Minerva, too, starts crying.


Somewhere, in their temporal lobe or somewhere, Lissa and Tina are waiting to hear the director say, “cut,” but in the meantime, in their amygdala or somewhere, they are still Julietta and Minerva.


About a hundred years later, Julietta says…the words slip out of her emotional truth…”Thank you,” and sobs again.


The director, as if startled out of a coma, says,

“I don’t remember this part…”


Uh, yeah, you are supposed to tell them when to stop.  Otherwise they won’t stop, eh?  You are probably used to working with your high school buddies who just say words and think that is acting.


Oh, acting is so easy.  You just have to say the lines.  Fuck. Shit.


animated director with bullhorn

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