Friday, January 8, 2010
Stars, actors and acting
I recently had a discussion with a young lady who opined that movie stars were not actors. This is a kind of snobbery that has existed in the arena of acting since the cinema was created. Stage actors have always felt that what they did was the only 'true' acting. It is akin to the prejudice that serious drama is more important than comedy. One source of her reasoning was that she often felt certain movie stars just did not seem believable to her. I believe that aspiring actors often say that they think a lot of TV and movie stars are not very good actors, and that they say this because they are envious of the stars having become a success as actors and they have not. They all deny this charge, of course. But there really is no other answer. Actors do much more than 'act' to become successful. They get a lot of experience, they take classes, they network and they network and they network. Acting ability is only a part of what is needed for success. Personality and experience and training and LUCK is needed as well. Now another factor contributing to aspiring actors believing that stars do not act (and a reason for stage actors to be prejudiced agains film actors) is that aspiring actors and stage actors,even those with experience, mostly do not really understand what acting is and what actors do. Actors represent fictional characters on the stage or screen. Film stars do this as do stage actors. The differences between the characters that some film stars play are sometimes slight, but they are always there. It is true that a film star may play him or her self in a cameo in a film as do other celebrities who are not actors. But when a film star is playing a role in a film, they are not just being themselves. They act doing things that they would never do in their everyday lives and they do things in their everyday lives that they would never do in a film. "Acting is being other people," says Don Richardson in Acting Without Agony. He is absolutely right. The roles we play on stage or screen are not ourselves. And thus, when a film star plays a role in a film,he or she is doing exactly what any actor in any media does. They are being other people. Whether or not you think they are effective at doing that is another matter. And having a sound basis for judging the effectiveness of acting is another matter. But I hope this helps people understand that movie stars are acting and they do exactly what stage actors do only they do it for shorter periods of time and more subtlely than stage actors do it.