Film Courage: What is acting?
Judith Weston, Coach, Teacher and Author: Thanks for that question because a lot of people think that acting is lying and that’s one of those things that I think is the most important thing about it. My special teacher, Jean Shelton who just passed away, used to say that People think that acting is lying but really acting is being more truthful than you get to be in real life.That was always the joy of it for me. I always felt like a little bit of a fraud in real life. I always felt like characters were saying and doing things that I didn’t dare to do, that they were a deeper part of me. That’s what I love about acting is that it’s more truthful than real life, it’s not lying at all. A very common definition is acting as living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. That’s a definition that a lot of people use.
When I was in acting class back in the 1970’s, our God if you will, was Marlon Brando. In those days you didn’t have access to all kinds of ways of finding out about actors, they didn’t talk about things when they were interviewed. Brando was of course notoriously reserved. But he was going to be on Dick Cavett, a big interview show. Everybody in our class all stayed home, there was no way to record things in those days, we all stayed home to watch Brando be interviewed on the Dick Cavett Show. He said Acting is nothing, it’s just everybody acts all the time because people never tell you what they really think, so everybody is acting all the time. We’re so disappointed to hear him say that because we felt so involved in our craft and so deeply, deeply connected to the truthfulness and of acting and finding the truth of the character, the truth of the play or film. But what I come to think what he really meant is that whatever people say, there is subtext to it that I do think is exactly right, that in real life as well as for characters, in a movie or television show or play, there’s always subtext to what people are saying. In real life people will ask how you are and you will say I’m fine and that will often be a lie, right? But if you let yourself believe that there’s always subtext, for example if you ask me How are you? and I might say…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Judith Weston has, for 35 years, brought tools and confidence to filmmakers and actors, with books, workshops, and one-on-one consultations. In 2015, after 30 years of teaching in-person workshops and classes to thousands of film and television directors, screenwriters, writer-directors, and actors around the world, Judith closed her studio space and shifted her focus to one-on-one consultations with directors and writer-directors of film and television as they prepare to bring their projects to life. She can be available for Zoom Q&As and workshops with schools, festivals, and organizations. Judith Weston has been a teacher of directors, actors, and writers since 1985. She has written two books, DIRECTING ACTORS: 25th Anniversary Edition: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television and THE FILM DIRECTOR’S INTUITION: Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniques (via Michael Wiese Productions).
CONNECT WITH JUDITH WESTON
BUY THE BOOK – DIRECTING ACTORS: 25th Anniversary Edition: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television
BUY THE BOOK – THE FILM DIRECTOR’S INTUITION: Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniques
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