I’ve been an actor for about 20 years now, no I’m not a regular on Shortland Street and I have had a regular job throughout that time, but I do whatever acting I can on the side or in between jobs. Over the years I’ve mainly been cast the less serious comedic roles because I’m also a stand-up comedian. But recently I’ve shifted my focus to more serious dramatic pieces and workshops that have opened my eyes to just how damn hard it is to do the job.
I’ve always thought the top actors are cool people who entertain the crap out of us and take us through amazing journeys and experiences. Now when I look back I have a new insight as to what they had to put themselves through to make it all real for us.
To me, these actors are warriors who go into the dark to face demons that most of us run from, they stand their ground and learn how to wrestle the beast to give us a exhibition we can learn from.
If you have kids you will know the awful thought that creeps into your head and makes you think about how you would feel if the worst happens, it squeezes you heart and breaks it a little just remind you that life is terrible sometimes so watch out.
Every actor is different but its terrible thoughts like that that an actor has to learn to draw on when required. This means training yourself to get there and make it real, letting yourself feel it and make it fact for however long is necessary which could be a moment, a day, or even months if the role requires it. It’s a very dark place to live in, it’s not fun and it is difficult to learn how to come back from it safely.
The opposite is also true, the feeling of pure joy or excitement can’t be faked, an actor must find it inside and make it fact no matter what is actually going on in their life. And in some cases they’ll be required to go through both extremes multiple times in one day.
Why the hell would anyone do that to themselves on purpose? Because portraying a character is a gift to the world, as humans we get so much out of a good movie, we love the understanding it gives us of the world, the joy, the compassion, explosive excitement, and all of that! We love it when we feel the pure joy a character is experiencing in the moment and you can’t feel that if you didn’t feel the awful emotions they went through to get there. That’s life.
So what I’m saying is that I now really appreciate what Brad Pitt went through in Seven, what Temuera Morrison went through to be Jake the Muss, and have you seen Nicole Kidman in Dogville?? Damn!!!!!!