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On Acting

– On Acting:
The quotations randomly displayed on the main Arkadina blog are all by actors (or theatrical practitioners) and intended to provide inspiration, and information, on acting. If you’re interested in reading more, they are selected from these:

– Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there. ~ Meryl Streep.

– All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today, in any scene. ~ Meryl Streep.

– You just have to keep on doing what you do. It’s the lesson I get from my husband; he just says, Keep going. Start by starting. ~ Meryl Streep.

– Rehearsal is the work; performance is the relaxation. ~ Joan Littlewood.
Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath. ~ Michael Caine.

– I’ll always be there because I’m a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I’ve any talent is beside the point. ~ Michael Caine.

– Timing in comedy is like walking on a razor blade. ~ Michael Caine.

– The office of drama is to exercise, possibly to exhaust, human emotions. The purpose of comedy is to tickle those emotions into an expression of light relief; of tragedy, to wound them and bring the relief of tears. Disgust and terror are the other points of the compass. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– Surely we have always acted; it is an instinct inherent in all of us. Some of us are better at it than others, but we all do it. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– Lead the audience by the nose to the thought. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.
I take a simple view of life: keep your eyes open and get on with it. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– I don’t know what is better than the work that is given to the actor-to teach the human heart the knowledge of itself. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– Have a very good reason for everything you do. ~ Sir Laurence Olivier.

– The performances you have in your head are always much better than the performances on stage. ~ Dame Maggie Smith.

– I don’t think anybody can be told how to act. I think you can give advice. But you have to find. ~ Dame Judi Dench.

– I work out the other bits, too, but I need to know what I look like, very early on. And then it’s like a template; I’ll fill that person out. If I get that out of the way, then I’m all right. ~ Dame Judi Dench.

– I’ve figured out what to do so far, but it’s always the next thing you come to where the man with the bucket of ice cold water is waiting – whoosh! in your face. That’s why you work with directors who know what to tell you to do. ~ Dame Judi Dench.

– It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it. ~ Dame Judi Dench.
It was good to learn so early. They’re not going to be kind to you. You have to do it and get on, and then gulp down and get better. ~ Dame Judi Dench.

– Some things you know about, you know what the ingredients are – maybe not all of them. But it’s up to you to put in the amount. It’s up to the director to nag you until you get it right. ~ Dame Judi Dench.

– Acting, to me, is about the incredible adventure of examining the landscape of human heart and soul. That’s basically what we do. ~ Glenn Close.

– We have to be vulnerable as actors, but we have to protect ourselves. ~ Glenn Close.

– You have to love the characters you play, even if no one else does. ~ Glenn Close.

– With the hugely talented women I’ve worked with or observed, it’s not a question about temperament or ego; it’s a question about getting it right. If they’ve got a reputation for being difficult it’s usually because they just don’t suffer fools. ~ Glenn Close.

– When I hear that somebody’s difficult, I think, Oh, I can’t wait to work with them. ~ Glenn Close.

– Good actors I’ve worked with all started out making faces in a mirror, and you keep making faces all your life. ~ Bette Davis.

– Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work. ~ Bette Davis.

– Acting is a very personal process. It has to do with expressing your own personality, and discovering the character you’re playing through your own experience – so we’re all different. ~ Sir Ian McKellen.

– Before you can do something you must first be something. ~ Sir John Gielgud.

– Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself. Sir John Gielgud.

– Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing. ~ Ralph Richardson.

– Acting is the ability to dream on cue. ~ Ralph Richardson.

– In music, the punctuation is absolutely strict, the bars and rests are absolutely defined. But our punctuation cannot be quite strict, because we have to relate it to the audience. In other words we are continually changing the score. ~ Ralph Richardson.

– The most precious things in speech are pauses. ~ Ralph Richardson.

– You’ve got to perform in a role hundreds of times. In keeping it fresh one can become a large, madly humming, demented refrigerator. ~ Ralph Richardson.

– The most important thing in the face is the eyes, and if you can make the eyes talk, you’re halfway there. ~ Ian Holm.

– People who reach the top of the tree are only those who haven’t got the qualifications to detain them at the bottom. ~ Peter Ustinov.

– Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find. ~ Peter Ustinov.

– There’s really no way to teach you how to act, but there is a way to teach you how to teach yourself to act. That’s kind of what it is; once you learn the little tricks that work for you, pretty soon you find yourself doing that. ~ Clint Eastwood.

– My old drama coach used to say, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Gary Cooper wasn’t afraid to do nothing. ~ Clint Eastwood.

– You have to trust your instincts. There’s a moment when an actor has it, and he knows it. Behind the camera you can feel the moment even more clearly. And once you’ve got it, once you feel it, you can’t second-guess yourself. You can find a million reasons why something didn’t work. But if it feels right, and it looks right, it works. Without sounding like a pseudointellectual dipshit, it’s my responsibility to be true to myself. If it works for me, it’s right. ~ Clint Eastwood.

– Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power. ~ Clint Eastwood.

– We boil at different degrees. ~ Clint Eastwood.

– If you’re playing somebody who is not you, then you can imagine that you are that person. You can feel like he feels, move like he moves, look like he looks – in your own mind. ~ Morgan Freeman.

– It’s what I learn from the great actors that I work with. Stillness. That’s all and that’s the hardest thing. ~ Morgan Freeman.

– Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance. ~ Morgan Freeman.

– My approach to acting is that I am totally intuitive. I read the script and I get it. If I don’t get it, I can’t do it. ~ Morgan Freeman.

– To be a good actor, you should know the words and movements and execute them perfectly; to be a great actor, you should know the words and movements and execute them perfectly, and also be able to invest them with great meaning; but to be a master actor, you should know the words and movements and execute them perfectly, invest them with great meaning, and be a farmer. ~ Proverb about theatre from Bangladesh.

– With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it…otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying. ~ Johnny Depp.

– Actors should be overheard, not listened to. The audience is 50 percent of the performance. ~ Shirley Booth.

– Always aim for achievement and forget about success. ~ Helen Hays.

– The real actor, like any real artist, has a direct line to the collective heart. ~ Bette Davis.

– Play every scene as though it was the only scene in the play or movie. ~ Vanessa Redgrave.

– If you don’t give yourself heart and soul to this part you’re going to ruin the whole thing. ~ Director’s note to Vanessa Redgrave.

– To get a real deep, nuanced understanding of human behaviour, art is the best way. ~ Natalie Portman

– The most precious things in speech are the pauses. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


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