actors

Get Caught Up in Minutiae or See the Texture

Get Caught Up in Minutiae or See the Texture

"When we get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us all different, there's two ways of seeing that. You can see the texture of that person, the qualities that make them unique. Or you can go to war about it – say, That person is different from me, I don't like you, so let's battle."

~ Mahershala Ali

Happy Talk

"In a searching dialogue, that in hindsight seems prescient, [Phillip Seymour Hoffman] wrestles with the concepts of happiness, love, and death with the same courage and compelling insight that he brought to his roles. Recorded at the Rubin Museum of Art on December 17, 2012."

See also: 

 

As If The Intention Of What You Are Doing Has Left

Make-up artist Lois Burwell, on the process of transforming Daniel Day Lewis into Abraham Lincoln (The Business, December 10, 2012): 

"Part of the process we used is called stretch and stipple. You actually need four hands, not two, because you want to hold the skin, paint it, and then use a blow dryer -- on cool so you don't bake him -- to speed up the process. But you actually need four hands. But also you make it efficient and speedy, but we had to learn how to do it together so that there wasn't a feeling of two hands on the face moving separately from each other rather than in conjunction.

If you think of the difference between a massage and two people having a go separately, how that would feel. That's really distracting. So we actually practiced. It's rather like some strange, hip-hop handshake is the only way I can describe it. Doing a make-up simultaneously.

And of course we were in silence, so we mouthed to each other -- eyes, mouth -- you know, just mouthing it...To be perfectly honest, I actually quite like making up people in silence, if I'm really truthful. And fortunately, with Daniel, that is what he liked. So we dovetailed. I don't want to sound pretentious, but the only way I can describe it, is when your hands are working on a face, after a period of time, it's as if the intention of what you're doing has left you -- and the thought process -- and the hands [are] doing it by themselves. So you lose yourself in it. So someone asks you a question, you're sort of broken from it. And it's really hard then to find where you were and begin again. "

Simple Awareness is Where It Begins

"When I realized and really understood that my self is a projection and that it has a function, a funny thing happened. I stopped giving it so much authority. I give it its due. I take it to therapy. I've become very familiar with its dysfunctional behavior. But I'm not ashamed of my self. In fact, I respect my self and its function. And over time and with practice, I've tried to live more and more from my essence. And if you can do that, incredible things happen."

~  Thandie Newton

Temporary Custodian of Beautiful Things

“I’ve been lucky all my life. Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love. I rarely had to fight for anything. But I’ve paid for that luck with disasters. . .I’m like a living example of what people can go through and survive. I’m not like anyone. I’m me.”

~ Elizabeth Taylor, quoted in “A Lustrous Pinnacle of Hollywood Glamour,” New York Times, Mar. 23, 2011

And this from a recent interview for Harper’s Bazaar, “I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands. For me, life happened, just as it does for anyone else. I have been supremely lucky in my life in that I have known great love, and of course I am the temporary custodian of some incredible and beautiful things. But I have never felt more alive than when I watched my children delight in something, never more alive than when I have watched a great artist perform, and never richer than when I have scored a big check to fight AIDS. Follow your passion, follow your heart, and the things you need will come.”

Absorbing America, Absorbed by America

“So my grandfather told me when I was a little girl, ‘If you say a word often enough, it becomes you.’ And having grown up in a segregated city, Baltimore, Maryland, I sort of use that idea to go around America with a tape recorder — thank God for technology — to interview people, thinking that if I walked in their words—which is also why I don't wear shoes when I perform — if I walked in their words, that I could sort of absorb America. I was also inspired by Walt Whitman, who wanted to absorb America and have it absorb him.”

~ Anna Deavere Smith, from “Four American Characters,” TED Talks, Feb. 2005

 

See also: “What has happened to the human voice?Studs Terkel, from a 2005 interview.

In Between

Sofia Coppola, speaking with Kurt Anderson about Somewhere on Studio 360 (Jan. 7, 2011):

“[The main character] is based on a bunch of different movie star actors that I’ve known or met or heard stories about and mixed them all together. He’s become famous recently and he’s doing a press conference for a movie he’s done called Berlin Agenda so you get the idea he’s done some kind of big action movie that he’s not very proud of. I never want to show him making a movie. It’s not really about the film business, but that’s the backdrop. I try to think of things that the actors would do in between films like get a head plaster cast, or sometimes they learn strange skills. You hear stories about actors having romances with their leading ladies and I thought, what happens when they have to get back together a year later for a reshoot or a press junket. Everything’s heightened when you’re doing a movie and then it’s over.”

“I like in life how so much is conveyed by the way someone gives a look or a glance. I think a lot of times in movies, people explain all their feelings, but in life you’re not always able to articulate a lot of things. And part of the fun of making films is telling the story in a visual way.”

Still Lost

"I never, in any city I've ever been in, never remember the names of streets. The longest place I ever lived in was for five years and I didn't know the name of the next street over. Why bother! I think there's such enjoyment in just getting lost in a city. Having no idea where you are, how you're gonna get out of it. Getting to be the middle of the night, you're still lost, walking around. That's the best way to discover a city. That's how you're born into life. You got no freaking idea which way's up or down."

~ Christian Bale, in an interview with John H. Richardson for Esquire

See also: The Business from KCRW (December 13, 2010)

The Attention to the Mundane

"I think the easiest way to talk about the movie is to say it's a character study set in New York City. You are looking at the world through the lens of one girl during one week of her life. The movie focuses on the small gestures, like the silent ­moments when two people's hands almost touch. These small gestures and the attention to the mundane create a huge tension. I wouldn't necessarily say it's a love story as much as a story about being young and asking, 'How do I react to the world? How do I deal with myself?'"

~ Zoe Kazan, from an interview with Jacob Osterhout for NYDailyNews.com (March 13, 2010)

There’s No One Way to Be

“A lot of people think that how you behave is a given or that behavior is character. When you move around a lot, you learn that behavior is mutable. I would change, depending on where I was. I would go to one school and everyone would dance one way and, then, at a new school, you’d notice that no one picked up their feet when they danced. You’re like, O.K. — I’ll shuffle my feet like them. You learn that there’s no one way to dance or be. For some reason, a lot of actors come from these peripatetic backgrounds — army kids, missionary kids, kids of salesmen. It teaches you to watch, to reinvent, that character can change.”

~ Julianne Moore, from “Julianne of the Spirits,” by Lynn Hirschberg, New York Times T Magazine (February 28, 2010)

The Emotion is the Obstacle

“One of the things I’ve always been taught as a drama student was not to play the emotion. That doesn’t mean to say you don’t express it, you don’t have it, you don’t find it. The emotion is the obstacle. The person doesn’t want to be unhappy, and the unhappiness is the obstacle that gets in the way.”

~ Colin Firth, from “He Wears a Revealing Sort of Restraint,” by Sarah Lyall, New York Times, December 2, 2009

Conditions that Foster Creativity

Anna Deavere Smith, from her Chataqua Institution lecture “Looking for Grace,” FORA.tv, September 13, 2009:

I started to think about the conditions that foster creativity. I would say that any modest amount of creativity that I’ve experienced—at least in my adult life—required the following: a restricted environment, uncertainty, independence and responsibility, a lack of safety, the need for change, richness of inner life, need, physical beauty, contradictions, and doubt.

Now, if we were to create a school or community where we wanted to foster creativity, we would probably not seed the growth of those attributes. I think that list would look something like this: an environment where possibility seemed endless, steadiness, a firm foundation, strong mentorship, safety, richness of inner life, provisions, clarity, confidence, and physical beauty.


"My tape recorder and my ear create the necessary distance that allows me to get close to another person."

How Long Do You Think You’re Going to Live?

From The Week (July 24, 2009):

British Vogue July 2009 Julianne Moore doesn’t mind calling herself “middle-aged,” says Gaby Wood in British Vogue. “When people say, ‘I’m not middle-aged,’ you want to say, ‘Well, exactly how long do you think you’re going to live?’” the 48-year-old actress says. “It becomes so tedious after a while, this idea that everybody’s so focused on being young. Whenever you ask anybody, ‘Would you want to be 20 again?’ invariably they go, ‘No.’ You don’t want to repeat it—you want to be what you are.” In Moore’s case, youth was not only a time of personal confusion; it was a time when she couldn’t find work. “When I was auditioning for movies in the ’80s, I never got anything. They made a lot of movies about young people doing things, like St. Elmo’s Fire. I got my first movie role when I was 29, which was considered really old. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone my age. It was horrible—so stupid and awkward—and I found it really oppressive. I was, like, I can’t do this anymore! What is the problem with telling people I’m 30, 31, 32?” She got her breakthrough in indie films, and her career took off after that. Moore’s now fully content with both her professional life and her personal one—she’s married, with two children—and the recent sudden death of friend Natasha Richardson helped put things in perspective. “I’m lucky to be 48, and not be … not here. I’m never going to be 48 again—48’s over after this year.”

The Very Best Sound an Audience Can Make

Mike Nichols, from “Mike Nichols, Master of Invisibility,” by Charles McGrath, New York Times (April 10, 2009):

“Movie acting was invented less than 100 years ago — movie acting with sound. You know how Harold Bloom says that Shakespeare invented us? It’s a fascinating idea, and you can go quite far with it. You could say that it’s in talking movies that The Graduateinner life begins to appear. You can see things happen to the faces of people that were neither planned nor rehearsed. This is what Garbo was such a master of: actual thoughts that had not occurred before that particular take. And you can see this taking tremendous leaps with Brando and Clift and then with Streep.”

“The greatest thrill is that moment when a thousand people are sitting in the dark, looking at the same scene, and they are all apprehending something that has not been spoken. That’s the thrill of it, the miracle — that’s what holds us to movies forever. It’s what we wish we could do in real life. We all see something and understand it together, and nobody has to say a word. There’s a good reason that the very best sound an audience can make — in both the theater and the movies — is no sound at all, just absolute silence.”


Meryl Streep said: “What makes Mike so great is one of the hardest things for people temperamentally drawn to directing. People who direct tend to want to be in control, and Mike’s gift is knowing when to take his hands off and just let it happen. A lot of directors are still dealing with the text when you’re on the set. Mike has done all that beforehand, so when you get on the set you feel it’s a secure world where all the architecture is in place. You can jump as hard as you want and the floor won’t give way.”