Showing posts with label acting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acting. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I explained the Lead Sled Dog Theory (see the previous post) to a young actor yesterday, and he wasn't impressed. I didn't keep notes but the conversation went something like this:

ACTOR: "I can tell you don't act for a living because that's not really how it works. Each actor in the piece studies the part and if they're all good at what they do it comes together. If they stray, the director straightens them out. That's his job. "

EDDIE: "But surely the dialogue requires word music and that needs a coordinator, at least an informal one."

ACTOR: "Naw. The kind of people who become actors have an ear for that kind of thing. They're all lead sled dogs."

EDDIE: (apologizes for persisting in the argument, then:)  "But actors are after the great moments, aren't they? The scenes that stay in the audience's minds afterward...surely with such a difficult goal in mind you don't want to leave it to chance."

ACTOR: "It's not chance. The writer did the hard work and the actor's job is simply to present it in a way that's convincing and clear."

EDDIE: "I'm just curious...what type of roles are you most comfortable with? Is there anything you have a special knack for?"

ACTOR: "Sure. I'm good at young lawyer-type parts. I'm also good at being the friend of a girl who already has a boyfriend, but is beginning to have doubts about him."

EDDIE: "Woooow!"


That's all I remember. Fascinating! Just fascinating!

Friday, July 15, 2016


Haw! I'm just kidding with the picture above, but it does serve to make my point...that female models dominate art school classes, and not just for the obvious reason. 

Female silhouettes follow lyrical, curved lines that begin at the head and follow through to the feet. They're beautiful, no doubt about it. 

Men, on the other hand, are lumpy. The parts just don't fit together.  Let's face it, realistic men are not as fun to draw as realistic women.

If more evidence is needed I refer you to the comparison above.

Now don't get me wrong. Art and artists need men. If you could boil all of art down to just one principal it would be the combination of force and grace in the same object or situation. We men are half that combination so we have an earned place at the table. Even so, the problem do we make men more fun to draw?

My own solution is acting. I picture gifted amateur actor-models working in twos, one male and one female. A story outline dominates the session.

It could be a comedy...

..or a drama.

Or some combination of the two.

A script is okay, but I picture improvised situations based on a loose outline, spoken dialogue only if it feels right. A whole story or fragments of different stories. The important thing is that whatever fragments are used,  they should lend themselves to visuals that are fun to act and fun to draw.

It would be fun to alternate comedy with drama, or solos with match-ups. I could see a male actor doing a solo variation a bit like Chris Crocker's "Leave Britany Alone!" Of course you'd have to change the timing to freeze some of the poses and give the class time to draw.

I could see a solo woman doing a sketch like Bette Davis's "I wipe my mouth" from "Of Human Bondage."

Probably the sessions I described would work best with draped models. I'm not sure amateurs could act with their clothes off. That's no problem because I'm not trying to replace classical nude model drawing with these actor sessions. Students need both.

Is that all?, wait a minute, I forgot something: a good homework assignment for a session like this one is to have the students draw up one or two carefully finished drawings based on the sketches done in class.

I'm a cartoonist so I see this assignment done in a cartoon style like the one above.

  Lots of styles would work.

BTW: that's not my drawing above. I wish I'd copied down the artist's name.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


Two of my favorite cartoonists were Milt Gross and Rube Goldberg. Milt Gross often gave top flight poses to all the players in the frame, both the aggressors and the reactors. 

Rube Goldberg staged everybody in the same shot too, but frequently gave the best poses to the reactors, as in the in the strip above.

Okay, he sometimes gave the aggressor (above) the best poses, but you you see what I'm getting at.

I've been influenced by Goldberg so in photo stories, like the kind I do on this blog, I usually give the emphasis to the listener.

 Here's excerpts from a photo story I did in June, 2009. The girl (played by me) is surprised when her stupid ex-boyfriend (off screen) approaches her in a restaurant. I'll leave out the dialogue.

 She humors him, hoping he'll go away.

 But he doesn't.

He says that, now that he knows she hangs out at this restaurant, he'll hang out there too.

 Yes sir, they'll be inseparable from now on.

 The boyfriend bids goodbye for now...

 ...but adds that he'll be back.

 Well, it goes on. You can link to the whole thing on the side bar. The story's called "The Ex-boyfriend."

The odd thing is that, despite my affection for reactive acting, the animation I worked on usually put the emphasis on the speaker.

That's because I like to work with aggressive characters. They're appealing. The audience naturally wants to see what they're doing, and so do I. Even so, I had a lot of Goldbergian fun working on the reactive scenes and I wish I could have done more of them.

BTW: the last two pictures above aren't mine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


This woman could be Natasha in a live action "Rocky and Bullwinkle." I wish more  people who are lucky enough to have character faces would take acting lessons and create a stage persona for themselves. Hollywood desperately needs funny character actors. So does amateur theatre.

My advice to this woman is, start cultivating an East European accent. Take elocution lessons and learn stage movement.

Here's (above) an interesting figure. The girl is obviously overweight but she uses the weight to make a humorous statement, or she could if she had stage aspirations. I like her aggressive confidence and the contrast made by the light, flimsy dress. I picture her as the nagging wife of a skinny, repressed man with a bow tie...

....someone like Don Knotts. She should take acting lessons. 

I wish some girl who yearns to do physical comedy would learn how to do backward-leaning walks. You can cheat it so your weight looks unsupported even though it is supported. It must be hard, though. If you look close, the only girl who can pull it off in the dance above is the one near the middle with dark shorts.

After she finishes the walk she could stay bent back. Maybe she's at a cocktail party and she walks up to a couple and casually talks to them while in this position.

There's some of that feel in the first minute of Fosse's "Rich Man's Frug." I'll have to revise my earlier lukewarm review of this dance. The first two minutes of this video are great.

This woman's neck is concealed under all the fluff she's wearing, making it appear that she has no neck. It's not a flattering look but it is funny, and funny is bankable if you can be funny on film. You could build a character around a woman who dresses like this. Imagine Madeline Kahn wearing that wig and these clothes.

Wow! This woman is a born witch! For the stage, I mean. This is why we need more amateur theatre. Right now there's no outlet for good faces like this. Of course you'd have to write her part so it's custom-made to fit whatever assets she brings to the table. Amateurs can be great but you can't hand them one-size-fits-all scripts.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Here's my own version of the Welles/Jaglom restaurant-type dialogue, with Mike as a sort of Orson Welles.  It's a fairly accurate account of what we actually talked about there, but Mike won't allow me to post his picture so I've had to represent him with pictures of Tex Avery's wolf. If you've ever been in a restaurant with Mike you  know how apt that is. The man is never less than fully aware of what the pulchritude in the room is doing. 


EDDIE: "I wish I could remember which actor said that the purpose of the acting in a scene is to make it memorable."

MIKE: "Yeah, like Eli Wallach did with Tuco in 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.' "

EDDIE: "Wow! A great example! Everything he did in that film was memorable. He went way beyond what must have been in the script."

MIKE: "That's what every actor should do. It's an actor's job to bring something to the table that only he can provide. 90% of acting is cast...Uh, Eddie, QUICK! Look at the salad bar! The girl...the girl!"

EDDIE: "Huh? That's not a girl...that's a guy."

MIKE: "No, no, no! Marone!!!! Not him! What's the matter with you? The girl behind the salad bar!"

EDDIE: "Can we get back to..."

MIKE: "Oh, yeah...sure, sure...I didn't mean to interrupt your high tone babbling with something as trivial as a drop dead gorgeous girl. Paaardon moi. So what were you jabbering about, Edward?"

EDDIE: "Acting."

MIKE: "Acting? Oh, right...okay. Well, remember what Jodi Foster said in that Esquire article...the one where they ask a famous person, 'What have you learned?' " She said she learned the most from DeNiro when they were doing the Taxi film."

EDDIE: "Really? What did he say?, Mike, you're not paying attention!"

MIKE; "Did you see what JUST WALKED IN? Did you SEE her? Oh, my Gaaaawd!"

EDDIE: "That's her boyfriend with her. You're gonna get a knuckle sandwich, wait and see."

MIKE: It'd be worth it, it'd be worth it!!!!

EDDIE: "...MIKE! Nearby: oyfriendbay (Pig Latin for 'boyfriend'). Ucklenay andwichsay (Pig Latin for 'knuckle sandwich') coming this way."

MIKE: "Okay, okay. Don't worry about it. Well, DeNiro took Foster out to lunch four times and every time he went over her lines with her. She didn't understand why because she already knew her lines but the fourth time she realized what was going on. He was trying to provoke her to be the character the lines were about, and not just a reader of lines.

He said it was okay to deviate from the lines if she was totally in character and remembered to bring it all back to the phrase that would justify his dialogue, which came next. Foster said she never forgot that."

EDDIE: "That's great! That must be how Woody....."

MIKE: "EDDIEEDDIEEDDIEEDDIE!!!!! Speaking of a WOODY, check out that girl behind the counter! The one with the black hair. OOH, MY GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWDDDD!!!!!!!!..........."


Thursday, August 25, 2011


That's Robert Pattinson above. I couldn't find adequate pictures to illustrate this post, so on a whim I decided to illustrate it with pictures of my daughter's favorite actor. She's a fan of the Twilight movies.

Regarding acting, I thought I'd talk about Harold Guskin. He wrote a book a lot of actors read called "How to Stop Acting." Guskin's famous students include Holly Berry and Kevin Klein. He seems to be good with actors who have to play roles they may not be suited for, but which were too good to turn down. That's a common occurrence, and I imagine Guskin has no trouble filling a class.

Guskin believes that traditional methods put too much stress on perfection and deep understanding.  That makes it hard for an actor to be natural and believable, and nearly impossible for him to have fun.  He says actors ought to do exploratory readings rather than thought out roles, even when they're on stage in front of an audience.

His advice for an audition:

Ignore the casting description. It'll limit you to handling the role in the same boring way that everybody else handles it. Surprise the director if it feels right. If you do what feels right you'll deliver your best performance.

Don't memorize. If it feels right, and you understand what the writer is trying to get across, you should improvise a bit to make the emotion your own.

Spend more time worrying about other characters' lines than your own. Get a feeling for the word music you're both creating. Listen to what the other guy says, and don't sneak a peek at your script while he's speaking.

Dress to feel the part, not look the part. Never audition in costume.

Come with your own agenda. Come with ideas and choices that interest you, but be prepared to be influenced by ideas that are thrown at you in the room.

Attack your fear the moment you become aware of it. If you're afraid your voice won't carry, then shout. Afraid of being quiet? Whisper the line. Afraid of moving? Make a bold move. Afraid of standing still? Stand dead still like a rock.  After you attack take a breath then go somewhere else...anywhere you're not stuck in the same place. The best way to deal with fear is to attack it!

Finally, take control of the audition. If a chair's not where you want it to be, then move it. If people don't understand why you're moving it, that's a good thing. Make the auditioners try to figure out what you're doing, because if they don't have to do that, you won't get the part.

Fascinating, huh? What's my take on this?  I like the kind of acting that's focused on voice training, the kind of thing Cicely Berry writes about. Even so, I have to admit that there's some good practical advice here.

BTW: here's what the author looks like (above).