A Lesson In Giving

Not long ago, I was very fortunate to be cast in a film where I worked with two veteran, Academy Award winning actors.  I have worked with celebrities before and some have been great actors who were amazing to watch.  Not because they possess some special magic, but because they do the work.  The work is the work is the work.  I enjoy watching their commitment and professionalism take after take.  They are givers.

On this most recent film, these two people came to set with certain idiosyncrasies that you may imagine might befit the stereotype of famous film actors.  However, once we started working it all became about the work.  We were filming a large courtroom scene and there were five actors who all needed coverage.  In the end, we filmed about two pages of dialogue easily over fifty times.  In this particular scene, I had almost no dialogue.  Because of this, I was surprised when the camera was moved in on me for a closeup… for the whole scene.  After those takes the director moved in again even closer.  What made this so great was that everyone in the scene continued to give.  Take after take.  With the camera on me, each actor played the scene like it was the first time.  You may be saying, “of course.”  But, believe me, I’ve worked with many actors who dial it down when they are not on camera.  In fact, in the past, I’ve even had a production assistant read an actor’s lines to me for my closeup when the actor felt they didn’t have to be there because they weren’t on camera (This is a horrible and common practice).

The real beauty came on the last setup.  The scene really centered on the two stars’ characters.  So, when the camera was ready, one actor moved her chair right next to the camera to provide the perfect eye line for her partner being filmed.  She then proceeded to give 100% each take… with tears streaming down her face.  I was so touched, not by her performance, but by her generosity.  In the end, I have no doubt that it is this kind of work ethic that creates truly great work.

Always be a giving actor.  Always.