Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 61: Deep Thoughts, By Actor Will Radford.

FYI: we are friends until the waiter sets that plate of nachos down on the table. Then we are mortal enemies.

My very good friend and gifted actor Will Radford and I get into some heavy-duty conversations about the business. (that’s Will, above, with James Spader on “Boston Public.”) I thought that while you’re stuck in holiday traffic and illegally checking your phone and searching the Internet, you might enjoy something he emailed me the other day, as we talked about maintaining perspective in a career littered with obstacles:

“The only thing I might add myself is, not only to refuse to let casting directors and others define you, but to refuse also to let ‘being an actor’ define you. To me, the most successful actors, and the healthiest actors, are those who don't let the label of ‘actor’ define them–because an actor will ALWAYS be limited in some way. There will always be those who lament your failure or those who hate your success. The actors I admire tend to be those who see acting more as something they ‘do’ rather than as something they ‘are.’ There's a romantic vision of ‘being an actor,’ as someone who's in it against all odds–it’s them against the world. Then there are those who see them selves as something else–certainly something much bigger than the acting jobs they get, and therefore are able to better weather the storms, endure the assaults, and (like Rocky said) not try and be the fighter who lands the most punches, but rather be the one who can take the most punches and still stay on his feet. To me, Anthony Hopkins is such an actor, but there are many more. Everyone does acting for a different reason, and those reasons may change as one goes along. They may even quit acting for a while, or permanently, if they find it holding them back in some way. To me, I guess, as long as a person feels they are moving forward, and that acting is either helping them do so (or at least not hindering them from doing so) then acting is okay. But sometimes people become so enthralled with the ‘idea’ of being on TV or in film that it takes them over, and instead of acting serving them, they start serving acting. At this point, the person is completely upside down in their thinking, and bitterness and feelings of being slighted and denied opportunities start to rob them of the very joy and self-effacement that they need in order to be good working actors. I can in no way claim to have figured it out, and these last couple years have been the hardest I’ve ever had. Sometimes we aren’t sure what the right thing to do is, and yet we can be sure of what is the wrong thing to do. I may need money, and not be sure how to be obtaining it, but I know damn well I'm not going to knock over a liquor store. Sometimes, taking a break from acting, or from anything, has the effect of revitalizing and re-focusing a person. Perhaps it helps to take periodic inventory of one’s experience, and honestly ask ourselves, ‘am I moving forward? Am I getting better, becoming more than I was, overcoming fears, gaining confidence, etc?’ As long as acting is serving YOU, and not the other way around, it can be a progressive thing.”

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