I am not a terrific actor. I have zeal, and am unafraid, but i always balk at surrendering myself entirely to a persona that is not wholly my own. Acting, for me, is a series of motions, and when i am acting i string them together as fluidly as possible. Sometimes, though, i know the movements and the words so cold that i stop speaking and let the character speak through me. Those are the moments when i am truely an actor.
Despite not thoroughly mastering the art of acting, i am slowly becoming more aware of the acting of others. I can see, now, the vast difference between motions being gone through and characters. This sight has turned live theatre into something much nearer to a sporting event for me, but what it has truly revolutionized is the screen. No longer can i appreciate overwrought dramas or lightweight sitcoms, where the actors are just punching the lines in all the right places; acting is not pummeling. No longer can i endure even the most viscerally executed CG action sequences; not if i have to suspend my disbelief in the characters doing the fighting.
It might sound like a revolution of criticism, but that’s only because the standards for what we call “actors” have sunk so low. Suddenly i get the point of the Academy Awards — they are not to award the most favorite actors for the most fun roles. No. They are for the actors who chose not to appear in their movies, instead letting their characters speak for themselves.
I wish i could do it, but for the time being i am content to appreciate it. I am more than content to drink up masters like Ian McKellen, who skips from playing fairytale heros and villians to portraying the imperfections of real life without skipping a beat. I love ensembles, like the one on West Wing, who are so in on the show that i have trouble watching them on talk shows and award ceremonies when they are just being themselves.
I like that I can see this all now, a layer beyond the story and the movement and the words. Yay for college education.