**Immersing yourself in the character so you become the character
**Doing what your character would do e.g getting shot if my character gets shot so I know what it feels like
**Losing 500 lbs for a role
**Gaining 500 lbs for a role
**Staying in character all the time and living as the character
These are just some of the myths that float around in the industry.
Although beautifully articulated by James Franco in an article featured on the NewYorker, that too is incorrect.
This gives the impression of a bunch of narcissistic people torturing themselves just to be able to cry. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! There are so many people who are quick to throw around their two pennies worth of what method acting really is, that it’s no wonder it divides opinions.
SO WHAT IS IT?
As spoken by Lee Strasberg himself (the man who developed “method” from Stanislavski’s system)
“Method acting is what all actors have always done whenever they have acted well”
Let’s uncover these myths
1. Immersing yourself in the character so you become the character.
You will never ever become someone else, you will always be you with your body, your thoughts, your mind, your face, your skin, your hair etc etc you get the picture. It is not physically possible to transform into someone else.
2. Doing what your character would do e.g getting shot if my character gets shot so I know what it feels like
If you have to go out and get shot to know what it feels like then you’re pretty crazy. Method acting isn’t and never has been about putting your life on the line. There are some aspects of experiencing something you aren’t familiar with to open up your imagination, when you are BLOCKED and a suitable substitution isn’t working for you, but it is never about FEELING something you haven’t felt and going out to find out exactly what it feels like. You always work with what you have or the closest thing to it. If you do choose to experience something it is always about being in control and safe whilst helping your imagination to serve you unconsciously.
Losing weight does not make you “method”. If you are choosing to lose weight for a role, it’s because you are wanting to give a truthful portrayal of a role physically, because the playwright has suggested that the role is a particular weight or has a particular appearance. You are rousing the audience’s imagination and your own to live truthfully in the imaginary given circumstances if you individually make the choice to lose weight, but you are certainly NOT doing this to become someone else.
4. Gaining 500 lbs for a role
Exactly the same as losing weight; gaining weight is not an acting technique but the actor’s individual choice to give a truthful physical portrayal of the role BECAUSE the playwright has suggested the role to be a particular weight.
5. Living as the character
This goes back to becomming someone else, which we’ve established you can’t. Some actors choose to stay focused during takes or backstage to keep up the momentum of the character by partaking in particular behaviours truthful to the life of the character the playwright wrote. This boils down to imagination, they are keeping up the belief in their mind so they don’t have to spend long periods of time re-gaining focus to be able to allow their unconscious to pull through. Some actors choose not to do this and have other means of building up momentum and focus to access their imagination, that doesn’t mean they aren’t “method”. It is not possible to live as another person, their circumstances are different to yours so no matter how hard you try, you will never accomplish this.
Method acting asks you to understand the human condition; what motivates people to behave in particular, original ways? Using your own experiences, senses, imagination, relaxation and concentration you are then able to offer a truthful moment familiar to the human condition to your fellow actor(s) and serve the playwright!
I agree with Lee Strasberg’s statement although worded slightly different; method acting is your own particular method that works for you in finding inspiration in the art of acting!
NEED MORE INSPIRATION & EFFECTIVE ACTOR TIPS?
If you found these tips useful, you can grab yourself more tips completely FREE. Louise O’Leary is a professional method actress, acting coach and CEO of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Join the hundreds of actors around the world who have downloaded her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career”. bit.ly/free45tipsbook and be on your way to acting success today!
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Here’s to your success!