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Actors on Acting page 7 

The challenge of maintaining intensity throughout the production is crucial as the same scene is shot over and over again. First the master shot encompasses the entire scene. Then the director moves in for the tighter shots, and finally the close-ups. "You can do anything you want in the master, but you earn your money in the close-up," explains Graham Greene. "That's where you have to convey a thought. If you don't have a line and they cut to you and you're sitting there blank-it just doesn't work."

It is not surprising that actors generally benefit from the collaboration they have with other actors while on the set. "You begin to interact with other actors to see what kind of rhythmic exchanges you're going to have. You can only do a character alone for so long," explains Leonard Nimoy. "You can't bring a rehearsed performance to the set and refuse to change it. You have to be flexible. Acting is all about chemistry."

Sometimes when the needed emotions or reactions are not produced from an actor on the set, measures can be taken to assist the situation. A perfect example of this occurred in the shooting of the film At Close Range staring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Penn's character pulls a gun on his father (Walken). Walken, somewhat skeptical of guns, made sure to check the gun before the shooting to assure himself it was fake and not loaded. 

During the filming of the scene, the reaction from Walken was not quite what Penn was looking for. Penn called cut, asked for a different gun and then called action. This scared Walken to death; he knew nothing about this new gun; whether it was real or fake, loaded or not, etc. The reaction Penn got this time when pointing the gun at Walken was of a terrified man and was extremely real.

A particular kind of trusting collaboration is needed between the director and the actor during love and sex scenes. Although to some, playing a love scene with actors such as Tom Cruise or Russell Crowe, or actresses like Catherine Zeta Jones or Sharon Stone may at first sound appealing, this is not really the case.

 "There is always a degree of discomfort," explains Peter Strauss. " It's uncomfortable for the actors, for the director, and for the crew. Why shouldn't it be? Here we are at our most intimate and we're supposed to forget about these sixty bored technicians standing around watching us…Actors are rarely oblivious to the world around them."

Dealing with Critics
"Ultimately, most actors have to walk on the set and say, 'I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.' Because you may be dressed in the scene, but trust me, you are naked in front of a lot of strangers. And you are ultimately depending upon their kindness," states Peter Strauss. Because of this, actors are extremely susceptible to criticism. 

Writers, directors and other members of a production team can use various excuses to deter criticism, but when an actor acts, that is them; they can't displace the criticism, there is no where for it to go. Kate Winslet (Titanic) said once, "Because of the person I am I won't be knocked down-ever. They can do what they like. They can say I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm whatever, and I'll never stop. I just won't. I've got too much to do. I've got too much to be happy about." 

There will of course be some critics that dislike a film very much, while others find the exact same film very enduring and delightful. From a critical standpoint, a film may not possess all the qualities of an Oscar-caliber picture, although the film will still bring in millions of dollars at the box office due to audience appeal. It is important for an actor to try and take constructive criticism well but with a grain of salt. 

Actors and directors can not allow one bad remark about a film to alter their thoughts and beliefs about it. If an actor or director truly believes in the quality of their work then reviews should mean very little to them. As director Paul Mazursky once stated, "I don't take most of the critics seriously. I don't see how you can see ten pictures a week and do a legitimate job day to day.

their life is experienced emotionally and then that is translated intellectually or conceptually into the performance
" Robert Altman has mentioned that the only thing that he has really learned from critics is that there are people that look at film from a different point of view then his own.

An example of how reviews do not necessarily reflect the impact a movie may have is seen in a 1980 review in Variety magazine of the film Raging Bull. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Raging bull was given mixed reviews for both its so-called "lack of quieter, introspective moments" along with "audience alienation." 

Scorsese was also criticized for actor Robert DeNiro's character being a "turn-off" in that same article. Despite these criticisms, Raging Bull went on to be nominated for several Academy awards including those for Best Actor and Best Director, and is today considered on the of the American Film Institutes 100 best films of all time.

Critics have been very kind to actress Mary McDonnell. She was given rave reviews along with Academy Award nominations for her performances on the films Dances with Wolves and Passion Fish. McDonnell points out that actors live in a different world from that of their fellow collaborators. "Actors are part of a certain percentage of people on this planet that have emotional vocabulary as a primary experience. It's as if their life is experienced emotionally and then that is translated intellectually or conceptually into the performance."

Dealing with Critics
Thomas Jefferson once stated that "Talent is never using two words when one will do." Actors, as a rule are great talkers; they spend time and energy talking about what they are going to do, giving away all their secrets. It is important to focus your conversations on what you are actually doing, not on what you are going to do. 

When you are acting, a million things may be running through your head when in all actuality you only speak a sentence or two. It is important to use this concept in real-life as well. By controlling what you are saying or going to say, people will be more apt to want to hear more. Remain positive throughout conversations. No one wants to hear about an illness or death. Negativity only brings people down and turns them away. 

So what exactly makes an actor a star? "When you see a star, you don't see an actor, you see that person, always the same in anything you put him in," director Alan Dwan has stated, "costumes or out of costumes-he's the same. You like him for some reason, and you yourself must analyze the reason… 

A fellow like John Wayne is the same in every picture… And Jimmy Stewart is always Jimmy Stewart, no matter what he's playing. And you like it. You like him. And personalities are very important. Director Paul Morrissey has similar thoughts on the matter, "The public likes the security of knowing the actor before he goes in. They like when Clint Eastwood is Clint Eastwood. If he tries to be someone other than Clint Eastwood, they resent it. In effect, Clint Eastwood has created that artist man, Clint Eastwood, on screen. As an artist, he has to be Clint Eastwood."

Being typecast is a problem that plagues actors today. Typecast means that a particular actor is known for and typically only considered for a particular type of role. Arnold Schwarzenegger for example, is known for his muscle man, robotic-type characters and is cast for many roles of that type. Examples of these films have been those action flicks such as Terminator, Predator and End of Days. Although he has been cast in family comedies such as Kindergarten Cop and Twins, these roles are rare and generally not as popular for audiences.

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