Orson Welles on Acting - 'Take Away from Yourself to Reveal the Truth of What You're Doing'
Can you look inside and see a murderer? A saint? A fascist? In this thought-provoking clip, Orson Welles shares some of his views on acting, and how great performances depend on the act of revealing — the ability to show those parts of ourselves that are the character. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s worth checking out and pondering:
“Acting is like sculpture, it’s what you take away from yourself to reveal the truth of what you’re doing that makes a performance”
If an actor takes on a role, it’s (hopefully) because something in them resonates with the character on the page, consciously or unconsciously. They understand the character, not because the actor is a murderer or saint, but because they can see echoes of the character’s best or worst impulses in themselves and believe they can bring this to the performance. For a given scene, a good actor may be able to temporarily enter the character’s mind, stripping away everything that keeps them from being a murderer (while staying in control), or a saint, and enabling them (at least for that moment) to reveal what a human being with the character’s traits and dramatic situation might be like.
It really speaks to the difficulty of acting, and the art and craft that goes into good performances. What do you think? Does Welles’ thought seem true in your experience of acting, directing or watching performances? For actors out there, is this idea reflected in your approach to roles?
If you’re curious about where this clip comes from, it’s from a documentary called Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (you can read more about it at that link, it’s basically an archive of never before seen footage and outtakes from various of Welles’ films and unfinished projects). If you want to watch the whole thing on-line, check this link out. It looks fascinating.
[via Open Culture]