For the past few months I’ve watched interviews of my acting role models when I have down time. I really enjoy the Variety’s Actors on Actors and The Hollywood Reporter’s Roundtable Discussions, (THR). I find them on YouTube and watch as many as I can.
I wish I wrote this article when I first discovered these videos—I viewed so many the first week I won’t even bother with a wild estimate. I felt such a rush while watching them. Some of my favorite actors, like Tom Hanks, Keira Knightley, Emma Stone, Nicole Kidman, and Viola Davis (just to name a few) asked each other questions and shared their experiences as actors. (Variety’s Actors on Actors) Then, there was the thrill of the Round Table Discussions with several of my favorites—casually expressing their feelings and history, (Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Denzel Washington, and many more).
I was excited by the interesting pairings. I learned many had a shared director, co-star, or worked on a film together years ago. I was completely enthralled. It’s entertaining and insightful for me as a member of the audience but also as a person interested in exploring the human condition as an actor.
It truly amazed me that when they were asked about role preparation methods, there was such variety in their answers. Some have in-depth discussions with their directors. Other reflect quietly or pull from their own life as inspiration. Some have the ability to improvise on set; some are thrilled by improv, while other actors said they quiver at the thought. Some even feel completely removed or unattached to their characters—”after all, it’s just work”. A few actors find the question to reveal their method a vulgarity—others simply state “Strasberg’s Method.”
They talk about the chase of feeling lost in a character, of the high you feel and the connection and the quality of work when it happens. That’s the end goal: to honor the character by fully living its truth in that story. I myself have only experienced that sensation of losing myself to a character on a few occasions; but I felt the rushing high and admittedly desired to chase it again. It’s wonderful to be completely entrenched so deeply into a character that all other thoughts of “Holly,” and self, and my day (or what have you), completely leave your consciousness. You’re present, so purely fascinated by the moment of the character’s life... I can’t even find words for it. Maybe invigorating—thrilling, I’ve used that already but you get the idea, but I’ve actually experienced that!
I found myself thinking about my own thoughts and answers to their questions. I’d agree with So and So and totally be confused by another's reply. I’d think what one actress would say was hilarious and totally spot on, and then be intrigued by working with a certain kind of director from another story…
As I listened, many of the Actors on Actors asked each other about their childhoods and adolescence. I realized that I felt many similar feelings they expressed, I would question what they did, and I had a curiosity and observance for human behavior like them. I realized that I was like them. Many of the accomplished people before me opened up and shared their honest feelings and I was like them. I was like the people that I admire!
Then it hit me…I found my tribe. I do belong— regardless of all those years of insecurity and doubt. I can find them. I can find and paths to join the tribe and make the pilgrimage to the homeland—Hollywood. Now that sounds kinda silly—I can see that. But I really don’t care how silly that sounds. I firmly believe that I belong there—in the world of an artist, an actor, making movies, and maybe even theatre.
All this excitement built up inside me but then I felt myself deflate a bit. After weeks and weeks of these videos something was missing and it wasn’t the Hollywood life…it was the actors life. I’ve been consumed by writing (or lack of writing), celebrity, fear of failure, fear of success, laziness, and other distractions—but mostly I’ve focused on “writing” my movie or TV show and assumed as an afterthought, that I would act in those roles.
I really enjoy writing, but that was only a vehicle to get me to my Hollywood acting career. I even got my masters in creative writing. I’m realizing I should have looked into another MFA program, one in acting. Even in college, I took writing classes and didn’t consider continuing my acting education. What was I thinking?!
Now I’m sure there are many psychological reasons for that and I’m curious about them but the simple fact is, I literally turned away from what my goal and dream really was. I was consumed by figuring out how it was going to happen by writing a hit screenplay that I haven’t done anything to build my skill or craft in acting in years….I was shocked, embarrassed honestly, and felt empty. I realized what I left behind and felt a loss and longing for acting. I’ve been missing it and didn’t even know it.
I felt so content and happy while I watched these interviews and discussions. I fell in love with acting again. For the first time in my life I realized that even if I never won an Academy Award or starred in a Hollywood movie, if I did local theatre and indie movies l I’d be living the life I love. Years ago, I couldn’t understood when classmates would say “I love acting so much that I’d do it for the joy, not the fame.” I didn’t feel that way growing up. I wanted to fame and fortune. I think part of it goes back to when I was a kid and my family was struggling financially. I never want to worry about money and what better way to solve that problem the going into an industry where so much money was made?!
I was critical and disappointed. Did I really want to go into this business only for the money?
That’s not true. I did lose sight of the main reason and the drive for some time but never the drive for this industry.
Acting for acting's sake is what I want to do:
That’s what I want to do and with the help of those THR and Variety videos I rediscovered that love and my desire to chase that feeling of losing myself in a character once again.
What ignites your passion? Where do you find the inspiration that keeps you focused and motivated? Tell us in the comments below!