How an actor becomes the latter
You may have heard of this thing called “Effort acting,” or the actor isn’t “Natural” or “Organic.” Though there are a lot of acting methods that are responsible for making actors “effort-y” or “inorganic” or “unnatural,” where the best bet in undoing all of that pr preventing it from happening in the first place is just getting Milton Katselas’ book “Acting Class: Take a Seat;” the other way is what I’m about to explain.
First of all, just like anything, acting can come more naturally to others. So though some people may not need acting classes, where others seem like they definitely do, it’s still a craft that can be learned, and learned well. To say there are “no bad actors, only bad directors” is a f***ing lie. I’ve seen really good directors film movies and some of the actors therein were utter trash. Just like there can be good and bad directors, there can be good and bad actors. It is a fact. There are bad eggs of every walk of life. To say that is trying to justify hiring non-actors into one’s film as a means of cheap promotion and advertising in hopes to get your initial investment back — that’s one of the main reasons Hollywood opens their films overseas first instead of in America because they’re just trying to get their money back because they know, here in America where we don’t like being cheated, if the movie is bad, word-of-mouth will spread and that film will flop.
So aside from all of that stuff, how does an actor become “natural” or “organic” outside of a good acting class that doesn’t through him into the recess of his disturbed mind or horrific memories? Well, first of all, if there is something about the character “you don’t do” or you “disagree with,” you need to knock it the f*** off. You were hired as an actor, not as Joe Blow from 43rd St. You, as an actor, were hired to be the visual representation of the character the writer wrote. That is it. You are not injecting yourself in there, or trying to make it a PSA or political piece, or by changing the words or actions making the character some semblance of what you believe in. No. If you don;t agree with anything in the script and are going to try to undermine it by injecting whatever the f*** into it — then why the f*** did you agree to take on that role when there are thousands of others who could’ve taken the roles and done it justice?! If you want to preach some injustice, or inject your personal beliefs about this, that or the other things, or be political, or make your role a “PSA,” FIND A DIFFERENT ROLE THAT WAS WRITTEN THAT WAY BY THE WRITER. I’m so not f***ing joking. People — your target audience — are getting so sick of that sh*t, and there goes your royalty money as an actor — down the drain and out the window.
So with that, you are supposed to present the writer’s character as he wrote them, and with the director’s guidance and whatever you can add as an artistic professional to bring that person to life — again, not your own “whatever,” but the actual character as per the words on the script’s pages — you then get Oscars, Emmys or Tonys. So whatever is in your way that will not make you “natural” as that character you need to find and get rid of immediately. And as far as the lines that “don’t feel right,” or “you wouldn’t say” — again, if you’d have that attitude on my own set, I’d tell you to either put your professional actor’s hat on and find the real meat of the character and say it as that character would naturally, or get the f*** off my set, where I would immediately find an actor who could do the job. Do you see? You’re not being hired for you, you’re being hired because it was determined you’d be the best fit to bring that specific character to life, not us filming a movie of you dressed differently or saying words you normally wouldn’t say.
To be natural, you have to create the moment to moment belief, create the emotions, create the scene yet all the while being what the writer wrote with the guidance of the director. I’ve acted in several of others and my own pieces, and one for one I never vary the lines. The lines are there for a reason — How would you feel if someone took your life and changed words or actions in it because they just “didn’t feel right” doing it or saying it, or that they “wouldn’t say that.” Pretty p*ssed off, am I right? So why the f*** do you think it’s okay to do that to someone else? You weren’t hired as the writer, but the actor. So keep to what you were hired for, do your due diligence as that specialty and naturally bring that character to life.
If you don’t like being what an actor truly is, either create your own films or become a celebrity of your own world — I’m serious. No on likes people who think they rule the world we all live in, whether you’re the bagger at the grocery store we see every month, or the biggest head honcho on the planet — we, each and every one of us, are just as important as the other guy. So do your job as an actor, and let the writer do their job as a writer. Even if you’re the writer to your own project, be the writer first, then the actor second — do not “be both” at the same time. Sh*t will get messed up, trust me.
I hope this helps you in your acting journey as it has helped mine!