Actors Shouldn’t Try to Have FeelingsThere is a stark difference between smoothing out rough edges; making a scene or script as crisp and clean as possible, and trying to control the actors on an emotional level. There is nothing wrong with maybe wanting a little more sadness here and a louder gasp there, but when it comes down to almost trying to dictate and control how the actor feels and acts, there is a problem.

Directors that micro-manage are not helping the film, nor are they being good directors, rather they are demoralizing and making the shoot unbearable; ultimately hindering the actors’ ability to act, the creativity of the cast and the film as a whole.

Actors Shouldn’t Try to Have Feelings

  • Honesty: When actors manipulate and push themselves into rages and anxiety, or laughter and forced quirkiness, the acting is fake and of poor quality.
  • Aesthetics: When actors force themselves to feel something, the acting becomes about the actor and not about the character. The feelings the actor brings to the scene should be genuine because of the connection the actor has made with the character and the character’s life.
  • Storytelling: It is not recommended however, for the actor to become so obsessed with the emotion being portrayed that they begin to think their entire job is “playing” that emotion. The emotion should be a part of the scene instead of being the entire scene. When this happens, the acting seems fake and out of place. The story cannot develop because of this obstacle.
  • Authenticity: When actors  try to force a feeling, they will not look like the character because the character should be seen to be living and experiencing the feeling with every fibre of their body. Once an actor has immersed himself into the  script and character,  their life is now his life, and the feeling will not have to be created but will come with a natural ease.
  • Rage: If actors own everything they feel and make every feeling their own, this will make them available to other feelings and therefore any feeling will come more naturally.

No More Secrets

To be able to embrace feelings better and more successfully, the actor must first embrace his own feelings rather than suppress them. Once the actor has experienced his feelings completely, his emotions are more openly accessible to him in his trade.

This way the character’s choices can affect him, the other actors and their characters can affect him,  he can listen and the scene can flow with more ease. The emotions should be allowed to course through the body freely and without hindrance because it is when this happens that there can be deeper associations with images and circumstances present in the script.

Acting can be considered a kind of confession and the worst thing for an actor is to hide his feelings. The difference between having secrets and hiding them is the fact that hiding them keeps the actor from performing his best. The actor must give these secrets away emotionally during his performance or they will cloud the performance.

Directors also need to make an emotional connection with the film so that at the end of the film, the director is satisfied he has nothing else to hide.

From Psychology to Behavior

True emotion is private and unique to every individual. However, for a director to know the film being made is good there has to be a stand in for the audience so that whether the film creates an emotional response or not is known.

The director must stand in for the audience and he does this by analyzing the script until he feels some sort of emotion and by watching the actors as an audience would and when they have created an emotional response from him, the director will know it is good work. And the director must turn psychology into behavior.

Each character and their emotions and psychological reasoning must be looked at for what is being said and for the subtext hidden within. When looking at a character and the reasoning behind their actions look at the subtext and try to discover what it is that made the character the way they are. Was it abuse? Neglect? A fear of instability?

With each character this analysis should go through the mind of the director and the actor to better understand who the character really is.