Actor Jack Lemmon offered his talent in some of the most iconic comedies in cinematic history, including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and of course, The Odd Couple. Needless to say, he acquired a wealth of wisdom in a career that spanned over half a century, and now thanks to filmschoolthrucommentaries, we get to listen in as Lemmon shares some great insight into one of his most compelling, dramatic roles, Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as what it was like working with the film's writer, David Mamet.
The videos shared by filmschoolthrucommentaries were pulled from the commentaries from Glengarry Glen Ross, in which Lemmon talks at length about acting, performing dialog written by Mamet, as well as the very complicated intricacies of his character, Shelley, in the film. These pieces of advice, as well as Lemmon's musings, are not only helpful to actors (even those who work in the theater), but those whose work focuses on actors -- directors.
For instance, in the second video about a minute and a half in, Lemmon talks about generosity, saying that the best of actors are "helpful, and wonderful, and generous," and ending with, "If a scene really works, everybody smells like a rose -- let's put it that way." Working with people, not even just actors, that are generous and helpful in their own way, doing what they can to make other's shine, makes for a pleasant on-set experience for everyone.
Another point Lemmon makes is how the quality of writing in a film can limit an actor (around 6:20), saying that "the greater the part -- the bigger problem in playing it," whereas poorly written characters require actors to infuse something interesting where the writer failed to do so, but there's a general understanding that one can really only do so much with a bad part. However, screenwriter David Mamet wrote an exceptional screenplay when he adapted Glengarry Glen Ross, and the part of Shelley is one that Lemmon was able to really sink his teeth into. He breaks down the part piece by piece, analyzing Shelley's character and how he tried to make him both pitiful and unsympathetic -- which was a challenge for Lemmon.
You'll only need about 20 minutes or so to get through both videos, but they're chock-full of interesting anecdotes, advice, and thoughts from one of Hollywood's greatest legends.
What do you think of Jack Lemmon's thoughts on acting? Do you have any acting/directing advice to share? Let us know in the comments below.