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Exits and Entrances

November 24, 2013

I think Gerard Depardieu has it right when he eschews the notion of being an international star or actor, considering himself more a storyteller or balladeer.

Actors are in an interesting position, being the one individual in the whole process who practices their craft in front of the camera; recognizable and accountable in ways others are not.

Actors refer to their body as “their instrument.” Like good jazz musicians they have the ability to surprise and delight. The good ones layer emotion on emotion as they create characters out of themselves, issuing a call to the audience to respond, pay attention.

Actors are constantly exposing themselves in search of finding the truth in the moment, shining a light on the text,  shining a light on the human predicament. Often their performance elevates the material. And when the material is good, and the acting is good, well…

I’ve marveled time and again as I stood by camera, watching actors act. My respect for the actor grew over the course of my career. I’ve witnessed whole crews fall under the sway of the actor. Diane Keaton and Jason Robards come readily to mind. Rare moments I will never forget.

Acting — magical, alchemical, artificial yet natural. I’m reminded of Jonathan Swift who believed that sometimes you have to “lie” to tell the truth.

During a performance I pay particular attention to how an actor physicalizes and vocalizes their character. Perhaps more importantly, I watch their eyes. I’m always watching the eyes. It seems key to me.

Of course, there’s the case of Sir John Gielgud. He was top tier. Amongst his peers it was acknowledged that his readings were unrivaled. But Sir John’s gift did not embody the physical. He noted it himself, lamenting that he was the greatest actor in the world, from the neck up.

So here in absolutely no particular order a few of my favorite actors: Vanessa Redgrave; Daniel Day Lewis; Juliet Binoche; James Cagney; Marlon Brando; Robert DeNiro; Diane Keaton, Phillippe Noiret…

*  *  *

All the world’s a stage/
And all the men and women merely players/
They have their exits and their entrances/
And one man in his time plays many parts…

– Jaques to Duke Senior in Shakespeare’s As YouLike it

This 15-minute edit of John Ford’s The Searchers includes John Wayne’s entrance (after title sequence) & exit (at 13:30) . Watch full screen by clicking the symbol to the right of YouTube at bottom of screen:

As always, remember to hit the Follow f/stop Fitzgerald widget, screen right, upper corner, when you complete your visit. Read, follow, comment. Tell your friends before you eat, pray, love. It will gentle everyone’s condition. Thanks…

Sunday Edition PS: Even though you might be notified by Email about new posts, y’all need to go to the actual site to access the movie clips I furnish most weeks. – f/stop himself

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  1. Edward Potter permalink

    How about Philip Seymour Hoffman:)?


    • If’n I put up my whole list I’d be blah, blah, blogging till the cows came home…Thanks…Philip Seymour is an ace.


  2. Heather permalink

    Interesting list and I’d include some of them on my list. I’d also add: Gary Oldman, Judy Davis, Cate Blanchett and Idris Elba (watch for him in Mandela).


    • Thanks, Heather. Yes, I like them all for their transcendent qualities. Judy Davis especially. And I’ve read over the past year on the festival circuit that Idris Elba’s performance really elevates Mandela…


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