Film Courage: What makes a great actor?
Robin Riker, Actor/Author: I think a great actor is someone who can feel as they listen. Because I think the best moments happen when you’re not talking. Your response to another person is something that can feed them in that just having your line when it’s your turn to speak doesn’t you know. I can see it happen. I’ve been on both sides of the giving and receiving of that where you have your moment and what I do…just what my response is, what my eyes say, what my body says…I can see the other person going deeper into what it is that they want to say because they know that they are being heard. And it is a natural kind of symbiotic thing.
A wonderful quote from either Julie Harris (a fantastic actress) or Helen Hayes (another fantastic actress), she was doing a play in Broadway and she had to do it night after night after night for months and months and months. And there is a scene in which she comes downstage and sits on the park bench and has a moment and weeps. And they’re talking about the scene and what she’s thinking and all that and the person says to her (the interviewer says) “How can you cry every night?” And she says “How can you not?” And that was the end of the quote…because she was in that moment. She was feeling that feeling. She was hearing those words or feeling that feeling and how can you not respond to that if you’re really hearing? So that’s what I think makes a wonderful actor is being able to hear and feel whether you are talking or not.
Film Courage: Being so dialed in where you are able to hear something with a fresh perspective night after night to take you to that place, but then developing tough skin to not let other things that are in the business bring you down? This sounds like an incredible balance?
Robin: Ahhh! Therein is the rub! Yes, it is not an easy thing we do, you know? It’s challenging on so many levels because for so many other people you have a job, you have a job, you go to that job, you do that job. This is one of the reasons why the economic downturn affected me not at all because actors are always looking for jobs so it’s not “Oh my Gosh! I lost my job.” Because we’re always going from one to another. But you do have to balance that. You have to protect yourself from the slings and arrows of this silly business, of this capricious business in order to protect your softy creamy center for when you actually need it.
Film Courage: Great analogy.
Question For The Viewers: What makes a great actor?