Great Actors Hide Their Work

10 mins read

Not As Easy As It Looks: Great Actors Make Acting Appear Simple

There are significant misconceptions that consistently circulate regarding the art of acting and whether it’s difficult or not. The internet is abundant in acting articles, most of them doing their best to reiterate just how hard acting is and how it’s truly a job that demands complete and total obsession from its employees.

The skillsets required to be a fantastic actor, along with the job itself, are routinely underestimated by the media and the general public. Great actors make their craft look easy, effortless, like a breeze, or the ebb and flow of the ocean.

They don’t struggle through lines or lose their character halfway through a scene. They emerge, they feel, and above all, they tell the story of a life in a way that makes the audience feel as though they lived it along with the character.

Great Acting Takes Dedication

To become a character is not easy unless, of course, we want our audience to see right through us. The discipline that comes with creating a character, fictional or non-fictional, is astronomical. Acting is so much more than copying real life and reading lines off of a script page.

There is a massive amount of emotional investment that great actors put into their roles, both large and small. Research, rehearsals, and creating a backstory for a character often takes months of work; all of that happens before opening night or day one of shooting begins.

Imagine spending seven to eight hours in a makeup chair, and when the process finally finishes, the workday officially begins. No, acting isn’t easy.

If an actor doesn’t dedicate themselves to full immersion into a role, then it’s likely that they will fail at their portrayal. Acting is hard, and achieving greatness within the industry means combining emotion with our lines. Without that combination, our character will remain shallow, and we’ll lose the audience while trying to connect with them. We cannot trick anyone into thinking we’re great at acting. Audiences will know the second we step onto the screen or stage how invested we are.

If Acting Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It

Acting is harder than it looks. Not only is there so much going on behind the curtain production-wise (rehearsals that run for sixteen hours at a time, or scenes that require forty angles and over one-hundred takes), but a player must stay in convincing character throughout the duration of those processes. If acting were easy, genuinely great acting, then everyone that sets out to make it would, indeed, make it. However, many actors are struggling.

While much of this has to do with oversaturation and intense competition, most of them haven’t developed the skill and discipline it takes to succeed. Acting classes are a must for most people who set out to establish an acting career. Lessons are essential to planting the seeds of great acting early, even during childhood. When an incredible movie or show receives attention, the actors who starred in it will often discuss losing themselves within the role or finding it hard to break character. This is a telltale characteristic of a great actor.

Acting Myth: Acting Is The Art Of Lying

People often refer to acting as the art of lying, and this phrase could not be further from the truth. In fact, acting is the complete opposite of lying. Acting is the art of telling the truth, and as we’re all well aware, the truth can often be exhausting. Getting up in front of an audience or rolling cameras and pretending is not an option. If we aim to pretend instead of immersing ourselves, we will not fool our directors or fellow actors. They will not be able to play off our emotions, which is essential to being a fantastic scene partner. There is no lying involved in acting. There is only raw, unmitigated truth. To become a character, we must be the character, and there is no other option.

Blaming Great Actors For Acting’s Reputation

That’s right; great actors are entirely to blame for the reputation acting has for being an easy, intensely overpaid profession. They make their talent appear so effortless that not a single person watching can believe that what they are doing is challenging.

In reality, they’ve spent months working on the tiniest of details to shape their character according to the script. The planning of these details occurs while maintaining the vision in their heads and staying true to the setting.

To form their upcoming scenes, they’ve had to step into their characters’ shoes, reacting to the script’s lines how their character would respond, not how they would respond as themselves. Reacting as a character is no easy feat, as great actors must leave behind their emotional viewpoints that they’ve spent a lifetime establishing.

They quite literally have to become a new person with each role they take on. It’s an incredibly difficult task, yet the never-ending list of hurdles that it takes to bring a character to life inspires them. Those who get into acting for the glitz and glamour, well, they don’t last long.

Think of it this way. A day spent ice skating with family and friends on a crisp January day is fun, easy, and laid-back. Becoming a professional speed skater for the United States Olympic team is not. We cannot liken acting in school theatre productions to working on a demanding set. It’s simply not the same.

The Hidden Parts Of Professional Acting

There are so many components of being a professional actor that the general audience doesn’t see. Those pieces are exhausting, and while some believe that knowledge of their existence takes away from audience experience, it’s safe to say that it establishes an appreciation for the performance.

Professional acting’s problematic parts are often incomparable to the grind of an office job or a daily nine to five. Of course, that comparison depends heavily on the industry and nature of the job, but the preparation that comes with an acting gig can be mind-numbing, dull, and full of reminding ourselves why we do it.

Vocal warm-ups, physical warm-ups, and consistent disappointment paired with the never-ending stream of emotional distress that comes with self-exploration can either destroy the soul or make us stronger. Rejection is a massive part of life when it comes to acting professionally. Prospective actors must always prepare themselves for denial, no matter how well they believe their audition went.

Acting takes inner strength and a firm grasp on the self. Actors must know who they are and what they stand for to keep their sanity, all while building their career around being someone else.

The Gig May Be Tough, But The Complaints Are Minimal

Actors rarely complain about their job solely because they love it, and they believe they were born to do it. Great actors know that the hard times are part of something greater, and they remain dedicated to creating moving art while bringing out the emotion within the audience and themselves.

Acting is not easy. In fact, it’s rather complicated, but it looks like the most natural thing in the world when done right. Every moment of building an acting career, from torturous to shining, is a chance to take away knowledge that makes us better, and for that, we are grateful.

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