Posted on February 14th, 2013
The other day I saw the film Flight starring Denzel Washington.
I have a special connection to this film. Victoria Burrows, the US casting director who cast Flight, comes to our studio in LA to visit the students each year.
For the last 18 months, she has been telling us about how great Flight is. It’s taken that long to get it distributed and out in the UK. She also told us the story of how she managed to get Kelly Reilly, a UK actress who appears in the TV programme Above Suspicion, a leading role in the film.
Victoria really believed in Kelly and fought to get her the part. You see, sometimes, if you’re right for the role, you will have casting directors in your corner helping you to get cast.
That aside, Flight is an outstanding film. Denzel deserves his Best Actor nomination, and, in my opinion, is the only true contender to Daniel Day-Lewis for the Oscar.
He plays an alcoholic airline pilot who manages to crash-land a plane but comes under scrutiny for his drinking.
Denzel plays a brilliant drunk and you really feel for him—as you do for all the characters. It’s a great script and cast. You should go and see it.
To be honest, it’s hard to choose between Denzel and Daniel. They are both great Method actors who have put in outstanding performances.
However, I don’t think Denzel will win the Best Actor Oscar this year.
Why not? I hear you scream.
More on that soon.
Posted on February 7th, 2013
This email was going to be about another one of the Best Actor nominees but something happened the other day that takes precedence over that for the time being.
De Niro broke down in tears during an interview the other day.
You can watch it here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2273674/Robert-De-Niro-breaks-tears-discusses-plight-bi-polar-illness-portrayed-Silver-Linings-Playbook.html#axzz2K2AeNHRt
We are used to seeing him playing the hard man, so thinking about him breaking down in tears may shock you.
It didn’t shock me at all.
What many don’t realise is that when you train to become a Method actor, you become more sensitive to the touch. In some cases hypersensitive.
This is a good thing. In fact, it is what you should be striving towards as an actor.
De Niro was talking about his Silver Linings Playbook character’s struggle to deal with his bipolar condition. This touched him so much he cried.
You see, your vulnerability is a strength. So many people think it is a weakness – but that vulnerability connects you to people in a deep way.
The funny thing about this interview is that he was with co-star Bradley Cooper who, as you may recall from my last email, wailed during a scene and they consequently couldn’t use it.
These men have worked hard at making themselves sensitive. This makes them sensitive not just in their acting but in their own lives. In fact, maybe a better word than ’sensitive’ is ‘connected’: connected to their feelings and emotions.
This is one of the most powerful abilities you can develop as an actor.
Posted on February 6th, 2013
It’s that time of year again.
It won’t be long before we are watching a top actor blubbing about how they would never have made it without Mum, Dad and Mimi the family cat!
But I have to say, I love the Oscars.
Tears and tantrums to boot!
So, who are the movers and shakers this year?
What I can tell you is that 4 out of the 5 Best Actor nominations are method actors. Coincidence? I think not.
It looks like the statistic of 80% of Best Actor Oscar Winners won by method actors from the year 2000 is set to continue.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Over the coming weeks I will be sending you my views and predictions. Do with them what you will.
So, lets start with an outsider for Best Actor.
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook.
Firstly, great film. A quirky, brilliantly acted, little gem.
Bradley is a one of the new wave of method actors. It was great to see him acting along side De Niro who put in a great performance himself. In fact he looks set to pick up Best Supporting Actor.
Watching these two method boys slug it out is great fun. Bradley recently told how in one scene the emotion was so strong they couldn’t use the take.
Well, in this particular scene De Niro has a right go at Bradley who is his son. Bradley was so shaken by the ferocity of De Niro’s rage that he started to cry and wail. The wailing was so loud that they couldn’t use the take.
This is testament not just to De Niro, who without doubt has enough rage to shake the bones of the hardest of men, but also to Bradley who has a very sensitive instrument and is willing to let himself be vulnerable and then to express it.
Long story short, they used a different take which was equally as powerful.
My prediction is that this year is not Bradley’s year. Why? Well, he is up against some very stiff competition… more on that soon.
My long-term prediction is that he will most certainly win an Oscar in his career. He is one of the most promising actors to come on the scene for a long time. He has a marvellous capacity to be vulnerable and to be real.
His time will come, but not this year.
More crystal ball Oscar predictions coming soon.
Posted on August 7th, 2012
On Saturday 4th of August Eva Mendes was spotted wearing a cute new dress, as she struggles with her purse to pay a parking meter. No big deal you may think.
Well the paparazzi love this sort of thing, don’t they? They can’t wait to get a shot of her in a flap in her new summer outfit.
What is really interesting about this story isn’t her dress, or the fact that even an A Lister has to dig into their purse to keep the traffic wardens at bay, it’s what she is doing in Westwood California on a Saturday afternoon.
She is going to ACTING CLASSES!
She gets paid millions to appear in Hollywood movies and she still goes to acting classes on a Saturday afternoon.
Does she need to?
Well she doesn’t have to, but she wants to. That’s what great actors do. They learn and keep learning to get the edge.
If Eva Mendes is still training then all aspiring actors should definitely be training. You don’t need to wear a cute dress, just turn up to do some serious acting work.
You can read the media story here: http://www.justjared.com/2012/08/05/eva-mendes-acting-class/
Posted on July 31st, 2012
I bumped into Jeremy Piven, who plays the hardnosed agent in the hit US TV series Entourage, at The Groucho Club in London.
Very cool guy. As it happens, one of my Young Actors is working with him on his next project which is very different from Entourage. He is filming a rival series to Downtown Abbey, which is called Mr Selfridge. It’s about the Selfridges family. He plays Mr Selfridge. It’s all set around 1909, hence the moustache!
Posted on June 21st, 2012
It’s no secret that Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver are both acting heavyweights. They have proved themselves over and over and are now entering the mature end of their careers.
They both appear in a new film called Red Lights. The film is okay, but their performances were excellent.
It struck me that Sigourney must be going head to head with Meryl Streep a lot of the time for roles. It’s easy to imagine Sigourney being the hard-nosed diva in The Devil Wears Prada or Meryl playing the lead in Red Lights. This happens to actors at all levels. When you are going for auditions as a professional actor, you often see the same old faces in the audition room. Ultimately, you represent a type and when it comes audition time for that type, you see your competition in the waiting room.
If you manage to see the film, watch out for De Niro’s scene in the room alone with Cillian Murphy. It’s virtuoso Method Acting. It’s understated but filled with subtext. De Niro plays a man who pretends to be blind but wields a lot of power. He manages to make us feel that power without the use of his eyes. To do this, he uses his whole body and excellent vocal intonation to express the character.
Posted on May 17th, 2012
If you are over 30 years of age, you may remember a programme called Roseanne. It was an American sitcom that was massive in the ’80s and ’90s.
The programme centred on the life of Roseanne and her family. Roseanne’s sister was played by an actress called Laurie Metcalf. She played the role very well and I always liked her as an actress.
Well, as luck would have it, Laurie is appearing in the West End at the moment in one of my favourite plays, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. This is a classic written by Eugene O’Neill, the American playwright. I have always loved this play. It’s a heavy drama that all actors should read and see.
The performances were very good but Laurie was in a league of her own. The funny thing about being in a sitcom is that you don’t get to see the other sides of the actors’ ability until they branch out.
You have to see Laurie in this role. She is truly outstanding. It’s a very difficult part as she plays a paranoid middle-aged woman who is addicted to morphine. The play actually reflects O’Neill’s own life. In fact, he did not allow for this play to be published until after his death. It’s that autobiographical. When you see the play, you will understand why – it’s a very dysfunctional family.
This play is very difficult material for an actor to navigate, so go and watch it. You will learn a lot.
Posted on May 10th, 2012
Last week, Scarlett Johansson got to put her hands in the cement at Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Does she deserve it?
I say absolutely!
Scarlett is a very talented Method actress. There is a simplicity about her work. She makes it look effortless and easy, but actually she is doing very complicated work underneath it all.
The first time I saw her work was in the film Lost in Translation directed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola who directed The Godfather. Francis liked to work with Method actors, and this way of working certainly rubbed off on Sofia. She beautifully directed Scarlett in a very understated but utterly truthful performance.
For that one performance alone, I would put her on the Walk of Fame.
Well done Scarlett!
Posted on December 8th, 2011
Method actress Meryl Streep has just won a Best Actress Award from the New York Film Critics Circle. I think this is a sign of what is to come with the Oscars.
In case you haven’t heard, Meryl has been filming a film about the life of Margaret Thatcher. It is due to be released soon.
The thing about Meryl is that she is a complete chameleon, and when she develops a character she goes the whole nine yards. Apparently, when they were filming, the other actors said it was really like Margaret Thatcher was in the room.
This is what I love about Method actors. They only settle for outstanding. They go the extra mile and they use every tool in their Method toolbox. Well, I guess you need to if you are being paid £15m a movie!
I suggest you watch her performance and dissect it. Look at her emotional range and truthfulness; look at her physicality; listen to her voice. I tell you, she has the whole package going on – which you can learn a lot from.
Posted on December 2nd, 2011
Gary Oldman – recently seen in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (a film I highly recommend you see) has been awarded with a career tribute award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Here is Gary’s advice to actors, which is something I tell my students all the time!
“ If I have any advice for young people or young actors, do your homework, know your lines, and get there on time, actually get there early!”