Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: ACTING 101

Film Crit Hulk goes deep and long into the concepts of acting – how it works, what works, and how we should talk about it.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: ACTING 101

LET'S BE HONEST: AS FILM FANS WE REALLY DON'T -UNDERSTAND THE FIRST THING ABOUT ACTING.

WE PRETEND WE DO. WE'RE SO QUICK TO LABEL SOMEONE A HORRIBLE ACTOR OR AN AMAZING ONE WITH OUT MUCH UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROCESS, THE CRAFT, OR EVEN WHY WE MADE THAT DEDUCTION IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT'S ALL PART OF MYSTICAL HAPPENSTANCE IN OUR BRAINS WHERE WE GO "THAT WORKS" OR 'THAT DOESN'T."

HULK ARGUE THIS IS TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE. AFTER ALL, SO MUCH OF ACTING IS AN INVISIBLE PROCESS AND WE JUST SEE THE END RESULTS. AND THOSE RESULTS ARE LARGELY DETERMINED BY THE QUALITY OF THE MATERIAL AND THE MANNER OF EXECUTION, BOTH OF WHICH ARE OUT OF THE ACTOR'S HANDS.

THE TRUTH IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF ACTORS ARE DOWNRIGHT AMAZING. EVEN THE MOST BASIC ABILITY TO SEEM PRESENT OR NATURAL ON SCREEN IS A TRUE FEAT. IF YOU'VE EVER WORKED WITH NON-ACTORS YOU MAY HAVE SOME IDEA AS TO HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT FEELS NATURAL, BUT REALLY IT DOESN'T SMACK YOU IN THE FACE UNTIL YOU WORK WITH TRUE-BLUE PROFESSIONAL ACTORS. SERIOUSLY. YOUR JAW WILL HIT THE FLOOR. WHY? BECAUSE THEY HAVE THAT OH-SO-UNIQUE ABILITY TO FIND BOTH EMOTIONAL CONTROL AND EMOTIONAL RAWNESS ALL AT ONCE. BUT THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT YOU REALLY HAVE TO SEE THE PROCESS IN FULL TO FULLY UNDERSTAND / APPRECIATE THE RESULT.

BUT THERE'S GOTTA BE SOME KIND OF WAY TO TRY AND EXPLAIN IT, RIGHT?

OF COURSE THERE IS, IT'S JUST KIND OF COMPLICATED. SO HULK THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FUN TO DELVE INTO A CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW ACTING "WORKS" AND SEE WHAT WE CAN COME UP WITH. ONE OF THE REASONS THIS SORT OF GRAND EVALUATION RARELY ATTEMPTED BECAUSE ACTING DOESN'T HAVE A SINGULAR IDEA AT ITS CORE... AND IF IT DOES IT TENDS TO DROWN IN A SEA OF WORDY ETHEREAL-NESS. SO DEAR READER, JUST KNOW THAT IN THIS ESSAY HULK DOES NOT PROVIDE A CORE BACKBONE, BUT INSTEAD A  SURVEYING OF MANY DIFFERENT TOPICS, WHICH, ONCE UNITED, MIGHT PROVIDE AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING APPRECIATION AND PERSPECTIVE. IN TODAY'S ARTICLE HULK''LL WILL TOUCH ON THE FIRST THREE PARTS OF TALKIN' BOUT ACTIN' WHICH INCLUDES:  THE CORE REALITIES, THE METHODS, AND HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT PERFORMANCE. THERE WILL ALSO BE A FOLLOWUP PIECE TO THIS ARTICLE CALLED "ACTING 102: WITH PROFESSIONAL-ISH TIPS FOR HOW INTRODUCTORY FILMMAKERS SHOULD HANDLE ACTORS AND ALSO TIPS FOR ACTORS TRYING TO GET IN THE GAME / GO THROUGH AUDITIONING.

HULK'S GONE THROUGH THE RINGER OF ENOUGH TRAINING / CLASSWORK / PROFESSIONAL STUFF TO NOT BE TALKING OUT HULK'S BUTT HERE (AS WELL AS STARRING IN TWO CERTAIN MARVEL MOVIES). HULK NEVER WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR MIND YOU, BUT THERE IS A CAPACITY TO WHICH THESE EXPERIENCES WERE MORE PART OF A KIND OF TOTAL CINEMA EDUCATION. AND BESIDES WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO WORK WITH ANG LEE? WHILE A LOT OF ACTORS AND EXPERTS MAY FIND SOME OF THIS STUFF ELEMENTARY, HULK HOPE THERE'S STILL SOMETHING OF VALUE. BUT REALLY THIS IS MEANT FOR EVEN SOME OF THE MOST LITERATE CINEPHILES, FOR WHOM THERE IS A CURIOUS LACK OF KNOWLEDGE IN THIS ARENA.

SO LET'S GET TO SOME HIGHLY-CONTROLLED SMASHINS.

PART ONE - CORE REALITIES: THE 10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ACTING...

1. ACTING IS THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE THING IN THE WORLD

AT A 6TH GRADE PARTY TONY STARK PUSHED LITTLE HULK IN A CLOSET WITH BLACK WIDOW FOR A FORCED ROUND OF 7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN... IT WAS MORTIFYING. YOU'VE ALL HAD SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. REMEMBER THAT EXACT FEELING YOU HAD? SOMETHING BETWEEN SICK, SWEATY, AND NERVOUS, BUT MOST SPECIFICALLY OVERWHELMING DREAD? WHERE YOU BECOME SO AWARE OF YOUR BODY, SOMEONE ELSE'S REACTIONS, AND YET TOTALLY STILL LOCKED IN YOUR BRAIN?

YEAH... THAT FEELING IS WHAT ACTORS DEAL WITH EVERY DAY.

THIS GOES WITHOUT SAYING, BUT ACTORS ARE NOT ROBOTS. THEY CANNOT BE HANDED A SCRIPT AND SIMPLY BE ABLE TO INSTANTLY REPLICATE WHATEVER IDEA THE DIRECTOR HAS IN THEIR HEAD VERBATIM. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS AND CANNOT BE TREATED LIKE / REGARDED BY THE AUDIENCE AS PUPPETS. THIS MAY SEEM OBVIOUS, BUT THERE IS STILL THIS WAY WE JUST EXPECT THEM TO DO SOMETHING WITHOUT REALIZING THE ACTUAL HUMAN CONTEXT OF WHAT WE'RE ASKING THEM TO DO. THINK ABOUT IT. ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SCRIPT FEATURES SOME SORT OF INTIMATE OR EXTREME HUMAN BEHAVIOR. LOVE. FIGHTING. ACTION. ANGER. JEALOUSY. DEPRESSION. ECSTASY. ALL STUFF THAT FALLS WITHIN THE REAL OF "NORMAL," BUT ARE USUALLY FEELINGS AND BEHAVIORS SHARED ONLY WITH THOSE WHO ARE THE MOST INTIMATE WITH US. BUT INSTEAD, AN ACTOR HAS TO SHARE EMOTIONAL INTIMACY  AND VULNERABILITY WITH STRANGERS. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CAPACITY TO WHICH ACTING CAN BE TREATED AS FUN DRESS-UP OR PRETEND TIME. THAT WOULD BE A MYTH. (AND ANY ATTEMPT TO TREAT ACTING AS SUCH SO ONLY PRODUCES SHITTY RESULTS). SO WHAT YOU THEREFORE ASKING FROM AN ACTOR, IS TO PRODUCE INTIMATE BEHAVIORS WITHOUT REALLY THINKING TWICE ABOUT HOW UNCOMFORTABLE THAT MAY BE.

WHEN YOU WRITE "AND THEN THE ACTORS KISS" THERE IS THIS IDEA IN THE WRITERS / DIRECTORS HEAD THAT THESE ARE TWO PEOPLE KISSING ARE CHARACTERS WHO WILL APPEAR ON SCREEN AND IT WILL MAKE SENSE IN THAT CONTEXT. THIS IS TRUE. BUT ON THE FILM SET, IT IS TWO PEOPLE BEING ASKED TO DO SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN WITH THAT SORT OF 6TH GRADE MENTALITY DESCRIBED ABOVE. SURE THIS ALL UNDER THE GUISE OF PROFESSIONALISM AND IT'S NOT LIKE THE CREW ALL GOES "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH" OR SOMETHING AFTERWARD. BUT THE NORMAL HUMAN EMOTION AND CONTEXT NEVER REALLY DISAPPEAR EITHER. THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE BEING ASKED TO DO SOMETHING INTIMATE, WHO ARE PROBABLY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT, WHO ARE CERTAINLY UNCOMFORTABLE DOING IT ON A SET FULL OF PEOPLE, AND WHO HAVE LOVED ONES WHO ARE THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE WITH IT... AND LET'S BE HONEST... MOST SCENES GO A LOT FURTHER THAN KISSING.

SO WE MUST RESPECT THE SHIT OUT OF ACTORS BECAUSE THEY GO AHEAD WITH IT ANYWAY FOR THE LOVE OF THE CRAFT. WE'VE CREATE THIS OTHER MYTH IN OUR HEADS THAT ACTORS ARE ALL A BUNCH OF FLIRTATIOUS RAGAMUFFINS THAT GET THEIR ROCKS OFF DURING THESE INTIMATE SCENES, "CAUSE C'MON! WHO WOULDN'T?!"  FIRST OFF, THAT'S A HORRIBLE ASSUMPTION (POSSIBLY TINGED WITH THE WAY MEN LOOK AT THE WORLD), BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT'S TOTALLY INCORRECT.  SURE, IT COULD BE TRUE FOR A RELATIVE FEW, BUT IT IS DEFINITELY NOT TRUE FOR MOST OF THEM. KISSING AND SEX SCENES ARE AWKWARD AS SHIT. AND A LOT OF TIMES ACTRESSES HAVE TO CONTEND WITH THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS PUSHING THE  PREVIOUSLY-AGREED UPON STIPULATIONS OF SEXUAL SCENES TOO FAR, OR THEIR AGGRESSIVE CALL TO "LET'S REALLY MAKE IT REAL!" AND, QUITE FRANKLY, THEY HAVE TO CONTEND WITH THEIR FREQUENT BONERS. HULK WON'T PRETEND THAT SOME ACTRESSES WON'T PUSH THE PENDULUM BACK THE OTHER DIRECTION AND PUSH A MALE WHO IS NOT COMFORTABLE TOO, BUT IF WE'RE GOING TO CHARACTERIZE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE WHOLE IT ENDS UP PRETTY UNFAVORABLY FOR ACTRESSES. AND REMEMBER, LIKE, EVERY MOVIE EVER HAS KISSING SCENES.

BUT AGAIN, ACTORS JUST GET ON WITH IT BECAUSE BOTH WE AND THE SYSTEM DEMAND IT OF THEM. SO GOES THE WHOLE DANCE. AND ALMOST EVERY ACTOR UNDERSTANDS THAT THEY HAVE TO BATTLE THIS KIND OF UNCOMFORTABLE SEXY / EMOTIONAL STUFF IN ORDER TO ENSURE THIS GRAND MOMENT OF SOMETHING FEELING "ORGANIC." IN FACT, IT IS OFTEN ARGUED THAT THIS IS THE VERY NATURE OF ACTING: TO RUSH HEADLONG INTO THE POOL OF INTIMACY TO CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.

HOW THE HELL DO ACTORS MANAGE TO DO THAT? THEY START BY SUBVERTING IT. BY PUSHING AWAY EVERYTHING THAT MAKES THEM UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT A SCENE SO THEY CAN JUST FOCUS ON THE SCENES REALITY. FOR EXAMPLE, HULK ONCE IN A GREAT CLASS WHERE THE TEACHER COMBATED OUR FEAR OF INTIMACY NOT BY HAVING EVERYONE GET NAKED AND MAKE OUT OR SOMETHING, BUT INSTEAD BY DOING SCENES FROM SODERBERGH'S SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE. THIS IS A COUP BECAUSE IT GETS ACTORS TO TALK EXPLICITLY ABOUT UNCOMFORTABLE TOPICS WITHOUT BEING ACTUALLY HAVING TO BE PHYSICALLY SEXUAL. IT'S A GREAT EXERCISE AND HULK RECOMMEND IT FOR ACTORS OF MOST LEVELS. AND THEN ONCE YOU'VE GOTTEN GOOD AT SUBVERTING THE HUMAN INSTINCT TO FIND WHAT YOU'RE DOING UNCOMFORTABLE, YOU CAN THAN ZERO IN ON EITHER MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL CORES TO TRY AND CREATE THE EMOTION.

BUT AGAIN, ALL HULK WANTS TO REMIND YOU FILMMAKERS AND AUDIENCE MEMBERS TO REMEMBER IS THAT WHAT IS BEING ASKED OF ACTORS ON A HUMAN LEVEL IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT THING. IT SHOULD NEVER BE SHRUGGED OFF AS "FUN TIME." IN FACT, IT IS NOTHING SHORT OF BRAVE.

YES... ACTORS ARE BRAVE.

2. WAIT, HULK YOU'RE CALLING THE SITUATION ON-SET "REAL" BUT ISN'T IT TOTALLY... NOT REAL?

EXACTLY. CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO: YOU HAVE BEEN CAST IN A BIG MOVIE. YOU ARE TOLD TO "JUST PLAY YOURSELF" AND EXHIBIT YOUR NATURAL CHARACTERISTICS. SEEMS EASY ENOUGH. ONLY YOU ARE NOT IN A REAL SITUATION. THERE IS A DIRECTOR WATCHING YOU AND YOU HAVE TO EMOTE THE CORRECT WAY FOR HIM. THERE ARE CREW PEOPLE RUNNING AROUND EVERYWHERE. THERE ARE BRIGHT, HOT, ARTIFICIAL LIGHTS WHICH SATURATE EVERYTHING THUS BLINDING YOU. THERE IS EXPENSIVE FILM BEING EATEN UP. THERE ARE COSTLY DELAYS. THERE ARE CAMERA GUYS USUALLY A COUPLE FEET FROM YOUR FACE, USUALLY WITH SOME MONSTROUS SET-UP TAKING UP YOUR ENTIRE VISION... YUP. THIS IS SOOOO NOT REALITY. YET YOU HAVE TO YOU HAVE TO SUMMON UP YOUR EMOTIONAL REACTION DESCRIBED ABOVE AS IF IT ALL WERE REALLY HAPPENING TO YOU.

MEANING THERE IS A HUGE DUALITY TO ACTING WITH REGARDS TO POINT #1. AN ACTOR ACTUALLY HAS BATTLE ON TWO FRONTS: THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION (THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE ACTORS / CREW) AND THE UN-REALITY OF THE SITUATION (THE FACT THIS AN ARTIFICIAL WORLD WITH NO ACTUAL REAL PRESENT TO DRAW ON). AND SO THE ACTOR MUST NOT ONLY SUBVERT EMOTIONAL AWKWARDNESS DESCRIBED IN POINT #1, BUT SIMULTANEOUSLY SUBVERT THE REALITY OF ON-SET LOGISTICS AND TIMING. AND THEN, SOMEHOW THEY HAVE TO CREATE AN "IN-MOVIE REALITY" TO THEN EMOTE.

AND IT IS REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT.

A LOT OF SETS DO THEIR BEST TO TRY AND MAKE THINGS "REAL" FOR THE ACTORS, BUT SO MUCH IT ULTIMATELY DEPENDS ON THE ACTORS ABILITY TO FIND THEIR "ANCHOR" IN A SEA OF CHAOS. WE'LL GET MORE INTO ACTING METHODS IN PART TWO, BUT OFTEN THEY FIND IT WITHIN, THROUGH CRAFT AND TECHNIQUE, OR EVEN JUST IN THE FACE OF ANOTHER ACTOR. BUT EITHER WAY, THEY MUST CREATE THAT REALITY. YOU COULD HAVE WRITTEN WHATEVER BRILLIANT SCRIPT YOU WANTED. BUILT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SETS IN THE WORLD, BEEN LIGHTING A SEEN FOR 9 HOURS, BUT IT STILL DOESN'T MATTER. YOU HAVE AN ACTOR THAT HAS TO CREATE THAT REALITY WITHIN THEMSELVES OR ELSE YOU PRETTY MUCH HAVE NOTHING. AND DON'T FORGET THE CLOCK, BECAUSE YOU HAVE 23 PEOPLE SITTING AROUND FOR YOU TO BE DONE SO THEY CAN DO THEIR JOBS.

IT IS AN ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION AND THE ACTORS WHO ARE ABLE TO PROCESS ALL THESE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS AND DELIVER RESULTS ARE AMAZING.

AND IF YOU NO BELIEVE HULK... TRY DOING IT SOMEDAY... IF YOU ARE LIKE HULK, YOU WILL POOP YOUR PURPLE SWEAT PANTS.

3. IT'S MOSTLY ABOUT THE EYES.

YOU'VE HEARD IT BEFORE THAT "THE EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO SOUL" AND IT WHILE IT'S AS STALE A CLICHE AS THERE IS, IT'S A CLICHE FOR A REASON. THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THAN AN EXPRESSIVE SET OF EYES.

TRUTH BE TOLD, IT IS THE CORE REASON THAT ACTING ON STAGE AND SCREEN ARE VASTLY DIFFERENT MEDIUMS AND WHY A LOT OF TIMES ACTOR CROSSOVER DOESN'T TOTALLY WORK. THE STAGE LENDS ITSELF TO MANIPULATION OF BODY, MOVEMENT, VOICE, AND PROJECTION. WHILE THESE ARE ALL VITAL TOOLS TO ANY ACTOR, MOST OF THE STAGE'S AUDIENCE IS JUST TOO FAR AWAY FROM THE STAGE SO THEY JUST CAN'T SEE THE EYES. DOES THIS MAKE THE STAGE SOMEHOW LESS THAN? OF COURSE NOT. THE STAGE ACCOUNTS FOR ITS LACK OF "EYE POWER" BY FINDING ITS DRAMATIC MOMENTS IN A SYMPOSIUM OF THE PAUSES AND LANGUAGE. IT IS NO MISTAKE IT IS THE PLAYWRIGHTS MEDIUM.

... STILL, IT TRULY MISSES THE POWER OF THE EYES. HULK ASSURE YOU THE ALLURE OF EXPRESSIVE EYES IS PURELY WHY WE HAVE THE CLOSE-UP TO BEGIN WITH. EYES CONTROL EVERYTHING: HEART BREAK, DESIRE, DISAFFECTION, CONFUSION, BURNING HATRED... ALMOST EVERYTHING. PEOPLE MAKE THE MISTAKE ALL THE TIME AND EVALUATE ACTING IN TERMS OF "FACIAL EXPRESSION" AND THAT'S JUST NOT SO TRUE. A FACE IS A WONDERFUL THING FOR COMEDY, BUT PURE DRAMA? OR HECK EVEN A COMEDY WHEN YOU'RE THE  STRAIGHT MAN? THEN OVER RELIANCE ON FACIAL MOVEMENT IS THE ABSOLUTE AND NUMBER ONE WAY TO OVERACT. BECAUSE THE EYES CAN DO IT ALL FOR YOU. BETTER YET, WHEN YOUR AN ACTOR AND YOU FOCUS ON YOUR EYE CONTROL , THEN THE REST OF YOUR FACE TENDS TO COME ALONG WITH EMOTION BEAUTIFULLY.

NOW HOW IN THE HECK DO YOU GO ABOUT TRAINING YOU EYES? IT'S TRICKY, BUT IT INVOLVES A HECK OF A LOT OF TIME IN FRONT OF A MIRROR, PRACTICING EACH EMOTION AND EXPRESSION. IT ABOUT LEARNING TO CONTROL THEM THE SAME WAY YOU WOULD FACE AND VOICE. MODELS ACTUALLY GO THROUGH A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF EYE TRAINING (CUE TYRA BANKS' RIDICULOUS "SMIZING" THING WHICH WOULD BE EVEN MORE INSUFFERABLE IF IT WASN'T ACTUALLY TRUE). BUT A GOOD, PRACTICAL EXPERIMENT IS WORKING WITH OTHER ACTORS AND DOING A SCENE WITHOUT ACTUALLY SAYING THE LINES, JUST LOOKS. IT SOUNDS CHEESY AS HELL (AND OFTEN IS), BUT EVENTUALLY THE GOAL IS TO EXECUTE THE SCENE WITHOUT COMICALLY OVER-DOING FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. IT'S REALLY A WONDERFUL EXERCISE.

BUT HULK ALSO GOING TO LEVEL WITH YA... A LOT OF YOUR DEFAULT PERSONA INHERENTLY DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR EYES LOOK LIKE...

HULK ONCE HEARD AND WHAT SEEMED LIKE INSANE COMMENT PASSED DOWN FROM AN OLD MOVIE STAR (SORRY, HULK CAN'T SAY WHICH ONE, WHICH TOTALLY SUCKS). HE SAID WITH TOTAL SERIOUSNESS: "MOVIE STARS WERE CATS IN A PAST LIFE." NOW. HULK DOESN'T BELIEVE IN PAST LIVES AND IF HULK DID HULK NOT SURE WHY CATS WOULD PLAY INTO THE EQUATION. THE WHOLE THING IS SOMETHING THAT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO LOGISTICAL SENSE... AND YET IT FEELS SO COMPLETELY TRUE THAT IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY. THE GRACE, THE LOOK, THE POSTURE, AND MOST OF ALL.. THE EYES. YUP, MOVIE STARS WERE TOTALLY CATS.

AND YES, HULK USING THE TERM "MOVIE STAR" FOR A REASON. LET'S FACE IT. NOT ALL MOVIE STARS ARE GOOD ACTORS. BUT IF YOU NOTICE THIS TREND THEY HAVE THIS ALLURING, ALMOST CAT-LIKE QUALITY. THEY HAVE THESE PIERCING OR SAUCER LIKE EYEBALLS THAT ARE PERFECT WINDOWS INTO SOME NATURAL, SINGULAR EMOTION THAT JUST RADIATES OUT OF THEM. AGAIN, IT PROVIDES A DEFAULT, ALLURING SETTING. YOU CAN JUST LOOK AT JENNIFER CONNELLY'S FACE AND YOU SEE THAT HER EYES HAVE THIS INTRINSIC TRAGEDY TO THEM (HENCE HER BEST ROLES). LOOK AT AT WIDE-EYED INNOCENCE AND VULNERABILITY OF AUDREY TATOU, MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, ALISON BRIE, ZOOEY DESCHANEL, OR AMANDA SEYFRIED (IT'S A POPULAR GROUPING). YES, THEY ALL HAVE GREAT DIFFERENT LEVELS OF RANGE, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING UNITING ABOUT THEIR DISPOSITION. THEN LOOK AT THE EXOTIC, ALMOST-ALIEN LIKE SEXUALITY OF ANGELINA JOLIE'S EYES. HULK KNOWS THE FOLLOWING SOUNDS SILLY, BUT IT'S TRUE. THINK ABOUT KRISTEN BELL... YOU KNOW HOW SHE HAS ONE EYE SLIGHTLY GOING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION? EVER WONDER WHY SHE SEEMS TO SPECIALIZE IN THESE SLIGHTLY FUNKY AND OFF-KILTER ROLLS? HULK KNOW THAT SOUNDS CRAZY BUT IT'S TRUE.

AGAIN, IT'S NOT THE FACE, BUT THE EYES WHICH CONTROL YOUR LOOK. EWAN MACGREGOR'S FACE DOESN'T LOOK BOYISH IN THE SLIGHTEST, BUT HIS EYES? YUP, THEY'RE CHALK FULL OF THAT INHERENT BOY-ISH OPTIMISM. HULK IMAGINE YOU ASKING, OH WHAT SOMEONE WITH SQUINTY EYES LIKE CLINT EASTWOOD? WELL, DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT ALL OF CLINT'S BEST ROLES KEEPS YOU AT A DISTANCE? IF EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO THE SOUL, HE'S TRYING TO KEEP YOU FROM SEEING SOUL, BUT WHEN YOU DO THERE'S A REAL SPARK THERE. AGAIN, EVERY ACTOR CAN HAVE RANGE, BUT THE EYES CREATE THE  DEFAULT SETTING WE SO CLOSELY IDENTIFY WITH THE ACTORS PERSONA. AND WHATEVER QUALITY IN THOSE EYES IS WHAT SHINES THROUGH IN THE ALMIGHTY CLOSE-UP.

IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE SHOULD ALL NOTICE MORE AND IT IS AMAZING HOW MANY CASTING DIRECTORS DON'T EVEN NOTICE IT ALL. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE THEY CAST THE WRONG-EYED KIND OF PERSON AND THEN BE SURPRISED WHEN THE ACTOR TONE COMPLETELY MISSES THE TONE? HULK ARGUE IT'S RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE MISCASTS THAN ANYTHING ON THE PLANET. EVEN WORSE, IT'S BY FAR THE THING THAT COMMONLY CAUSES AN AUDITION THAT "WORKS GREAT IN THE ROOM" TO NOT RESONATE AS MUCH IN THE ACTUAL AUDITION FOOTAGE.... ALL BECAUSE THE CASTING DIRECTORS FORGOT A STUPID CLICHE.

4. WE OFTEN DON'T NOTICE THE BEST ACTORS ANYWAY

THERE IS THE ONGOING PARADOX IN CERTAIN ARENAS OF FILMMAKING, WHERE YOU DON'T NOTICE THE WORK OF THE BEST PEOPLE AT THEIR JOBS. A CINEMATOGRAPHER CAN PRODUCE A STRIKING AND BEAUTIFUL IMAGE AND THE AUDIENCE WILL TOTALLY NOTICE IT. MEANWHILE, THE TRULY BEST EDITING IS MEANT TO INVISIBLE. SO HOW IS AN AUDIENCE GOING TO NOTICE IT?  THINK ABOUT EDITING: THE ART OF SEAMLESS TRANSITIONS THAT PERFECTLY SHUFFLE YOU ALONG FROM CUT TO CUT, SCENE TO SCENE, AND EMOTION TO EMOTION WITHOUT EVEN SO MUCH AS THINKING ABOUT IT THE FLOW. THAT IS GREAT EDITING. AND THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE UNTRAINED EYE BARELY SEES IT. EVEN WORSE, THERE IS A LIST OF MOVIES A THOUSAND PAGES LONG THAT WERE "SAVED IN THE EDIT." HULK TALKIN' TERRIBLE MOVIES SAVED BY SOME EDITOR TIRELESSLY WORKING TO RECONFIGURE PERFORMANCE, STORY, AND TONE FOR OPTIMUM COHESION... AND YOU WILL NEVER, EVER KNOW THESE MOVIE-SAVING EDITORS WHO ARE SO FREAKIN' GOOD AT THEIR JOBS IT'S ALMOST HEARTBREAKING.

WE AS THE AUDIENCE JUST CAN'T SEE IT. THERE IS YET ANOTHER OLD ADAGE ABOUT THE ACADEMY AWARDS AND HOW YOU CAN REPLACE THE WORD "BEST" WITH "MOST." HULK FINDS THE STATEMENT TO BE CAPITAL T-TRUE. IT'S NOT BEST COSTUMING, BUT INSTEAD IT'S MOST COSTUMING, WHERE WHATEVER PERIOD PIECE DU JOUR WINS. IT'S NOT BEST EDITING (WHICH AGAIN, IS INVISIBLE), INSTEAD IT'S MOST EDITING. SO PICK WHATEVER MOVIE HAD THE MOST STORYLINES OR MOST RAPID CUTTING (BOURNE MOVIES ANYONE?) AND THAT'LL PROBABLY WIN. HOW UNFORTUNATE. HOW SILLY. HOW... SADLY UNDERSTANDABLE.

WHEN IT COMES TO ACTORS, THE SAME IS TRUE... TO A DEGREE. THE WAY THAT THIS THEORY DOES NOT APPLY IS BECAUSE IN MOST CASES WE ARE  SUPPOSED TO NOTICE WHAT AN ACTOR IS FEELING AND THINKING. THERE IS A REAL CLARITY OF PURPOSE WHEN COMPARED TO SOMETHING WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE LIKE EDITING. AS SUCH, WE'RE USUALLY PRETTY GOOD ABOUT IDENTIFYING WHEN AN ACTOR IS "WORKING" BECAUSE WE FEEL AND EMOTE WITH THEM. AND WHEN AN ACTOR ISN'T CLICKING THE PERFORMANCE "ISN'T WORKING." AGAIN, WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL TO ACCOUNT FOR HOW MUCH THE MATERIAL / CINEMATICS IS PLAYING INTO THIS, BUT ON THE WHOLE EVEN THE AUDIENCE KIND OF SEEMS TO GET IT... UNTIL THE VERY SECOND WE TRY AND FIGURE OUT "WORTH."

YUP, THE SECOND WE START REACHING FOR SOME WAY TO SAY ONE ACTOR IS "BETTER" THAN ANOTHER, WE ARE THUS TRYING TO ESTABLISH WORTH (WHICH IF YOU READ HULK'S FIRST ARTICLE, YOU WOULD KNOW HULK HATES DOING). IT CREATES A LINE OF THINKING THAT CAUSES EVERYONE TO BE DRAWN TO SHOWY ROLES THAT ARE USUALLY "IMPORTANT" OR "SERIOUS." IN AWARDS SEASON, BEST ACTING OFTEN BECOMES MOST ACTING.

CAN WE FIX THIS? NOT UNLESS WE WATCHED ACTORS EVERY SINGLE DAY ON SET. INSTEAD WE LOOK FOR TANGIBLE THINGS: ADOPTING FAKE NOSES. PUTTING ON WEIGHT. GOING TO BOOT CAMP. LIVING IN A WHEELCHAIR. THESE ARE TANGIBLE THINGS THAT MAKE OUR BRAINS GO "OH, HE WORKED HARD!" HULK NOT FULLY DISCOUNTING THESE THINGS MIND YOU, AS THEY DO HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE PERFORMANCE AND THE VALIDITY OF CINEMA, BUT THEY MEAN RELATIVELY LITTLE TO THE QUESTION OF OVER ALL PERFORMANCE AND EVEN LESS TO THE MATTER OF "WORTH.'

BECAUSE IN HULK'S ESTIMATION THERE IS A TRUTH THAT BEST ACTING LOOKS EFFORTLESS... NATURAL... LIVED IN.

THE MAN IN THE PICTURE ATOP POINT #4 IS GARRET DILLAHUNT. IF YOU KNOW HIM YOU KNOW WHAT HULK IS ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT. TO THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T, HE IS A CHARACTER ACTOR. HE IS NOT THE KIND OF CHARACTER ACTOR WHO PLAYS ONE ROLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN TO GREAT EFFECT. HE DOES NOT SO COMPLETELY INHABIT HIS CHARACTERS AS TO SEVERELY CHANGE VOICE, METHOD, OR DO ANYTHING SO SHOWY AS THAT (THOUGH THERE ARE SHADES OF THAT). YET GARRET HAS STILL MANAGED TO PLAY YUKS, FATHERS, STRAWMEN, COMEDIC RELIEF, KILLERS, DUNCES, NICE GUYS, SMARMY LAWYERS, PSYCHOPATHS, DRUNKS, AND EVEN JESUS CHRIST. AND HE HAS DONE SO IN MANNER THAT RARELY DRAWS LARGE ATTENTION, BUT INSTEAD FITS SO NATURALLY AND PERFECTLY INTO THE AESTHETIC OF THE FILM / SHOW THAT SURROUNDS HIM. HULK THINKS HE IS INCREDIBLE AND QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST ACTOR WORKING TODAY.

BUT SADLY IT'S BEST, NOT MOST.

5. THE BEST ACTORS CAN HANDLE CHANGES

THIS IS ANOTHER WAY YOU WILL NEVER SEE "GREAT ACTING."

SO YOU'RE DIRECTING A MOVIE. YOU ARE TWO SCENES BEHIND FOR THE DAY AND YOU HAVE TO BREAK EVERYONE IN TEN MINUTES FOR LUNCH OR FACEANOTHER MEAL PENALTY THAT'S NOT IN THE BUDGET. YOU'RE FREAKING OUT AND THE SCENE HAS TO BE NAILED, BUT THE FIRST TWO TAKES AREN'T GOING RIGHT. BUT YOU'RE A GOOD AND PERCEPTIVE DIRECTOR SO YOU HAVE AN IDEA HOW TO FIX THE SCENE THAT NEEDS BOTH A CHANGE IN TONE AND TWO LINE CHANGES. SO YOU GO UP TO YOUR UPSTANDING ACTRESS AND SAY, "So in this scene, I think what you want to be expressing is less about how you're angry and more about how you're disappointed with what he did, you know? And a couple things I think that will help make that work is if you change this line to say [THIS] and move that other line to the end so it has that nice forgiving stamp on the end of the scene, does that work for you?"

... YOU HAVE NOW ASKED THE ACTRESS TO COMPLETELY CHANGE THEIR EMOTIONAL CORE AND SWITCH UP A SCENE THEY HAVE PRESUMABLY HAD MEMORIZED FOR A GOOD LONG WHILE, AS IN TO THE POINT WHERE THE LINES ARE NOT JUST MEMORIZED, BUT INTERNALIZED. BUT THEY NOW HAVE TO MAKE THIS CHANGE WHICH IS A DIFFICULT THING TO ASK BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE HANDLED FROM THE DUAL-BRAIN PLACE OF POINTS #1 AND #2. SO YUP. IT IS ABSURDLY DIFFICULT TO DO. BUT THE ACTRESS JUST SAYS "Got it." YOU SET UP THE SCENE, YOU ROLL AGAIN... AND THEY ABSOLUTELY NAIL IT. YOU RUN THROUGH IT AGAIN ONCE MORE FOR SAFE KEEPING, BUT BOOM. DONE. BREAK FOR LUNCH AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS NOT ONLY HELPED THE SCENE AND THEIR PERFORMANCE, BUT HELPED THE PRODUCTION GET BACK ON SCHEDULE AND HELP SAVE A TON OF MONEY. THIS IS FUCKING INVALUABLE.

BUT IN THE FINAL RESULT YOU WON'T SEE ANY OF THIS. A PERSON CAN BE A DREAM TO WORK WITH, SOMEONE WHO BOTH GETS AND MAKES CHANGES SEAMLESSLY. OR THEY SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO FIND THEIR PERFORMANCE WITH A LOT OF TAKES AND DEMANDS MORE TIME. OR THEY CAN EVEN SOMEONE WHO NEEDS THE PERFORMANCE TO BE COAXED OUT OF THEM (THIS IS USUALLY SOMEONE WHO IS MORE A PERSONA THAN AN ACTOR). BUT IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY MATTER BECAUSE THE END RESULT WILL BE MERELY BE THE BEST OF WHAT IS FILMED AND THAT IS IT.

SO WHY EXACTLY IS THAT QUICK PROFESSIONALISM AND CHANGE-MAKING ABILITY SO IMPORTANT? BECAUSE THE KIND OF FAST-PACED SCENARIO HULK DESCRIBED ABOVE HAPPENS PRETTY MUCH IN EVERY SINGLE SCENE OF A MOVIE... THINK ABOUT THAT... THINK ABOUT WHAT HAVING AN AMAZING ACTOR, ONE WHO CAN HANDLE CHANGES AND BE PROFESSIONAL. THINK ABOUT WHAT IT CAN DO FOR YOUR ABILITY TO RUN A SEAMLESS PRODUCTION AND HANDLE THE ISSUES THAT REALLY NEED FOCUS.  SO PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF A TRULY PROFESSIONAL ACTOR WHO CAN MAKE CHANGES.

PUT IT THIS WAY: THERE IS A REASON CATE BLANCHETT ONLY SEEMS TO SHOW UP IN GOOD MOVIES. SAME FOR TILDA SWINTON. HECK SOME ACTORS CAN OUTRIGHT TRANSFORM MOVIES WITH THEIR PROFESSIONALISM AND SENSE OF CHARACTERIZATION. IT WAS ACTUALLY MERYL STREEP WHO DECIDED THAT MIRANDA PRIESTLY SHOULD NEVER YELL THUS TURNING WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN MINDLESS FLUFF INTO A NEAR-CLASSIC... YES, HULK JUST CALLED THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA A NEAR CLASSIC. SHUT YOUR STUPID BUTT.

AND SPEAKING OF THESE PEOPLE WHO ONLY APPEAR IN GOOD MOVIES...

6. ACTORS CAN REGRESS

SOMEWHERE THERE EXISTS A TAPE OF HULK PLAYING MERCUTIO. HULK WASN'T HORRIBLE. HULK WASN'T GOOD EITHER BUT WHATEVER. THE REAL POINT IS THAT HULK HASN'T ACTED SINCE THEN. THUS IT IS COMPLETELY TRUE THAT HULK WOULD BE WORSE NOW THAN HULK WAS THEN. ACTING IS LIKE ANY SPORT, EXERCISE, OR SKILL.  YOU HAVE TO USE THE MUSCLES AND MAINTAIN FLEXIBILITY TO STAY GOOD AT IT. IT IS NOT, AS THEY SAY, LIKE "RIDING A BIKE." THIS HELPS EXPLAIN WHY DENIRO OR PACINO ARE SOMEHOW WORSE THESE DAYS. THEY HAVEN'T EXERCISED THOSE  GODFATHER / TAXI DRIVER MUSCLES IN A GOOD, LONG WHILE. THINK, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME PACINO LOOKED INWARD AS HE DID IN THOSE 70'S MOVIES, TO FIND A QUIET STILLNESS AND BASIC HUMANITY. HE IS ALL "MOST" THESE DAYS, FULL OF THESE ONE-NOTE ERUPTIONS THAT ARE GREGARIOUS AND UNWANTED. AND WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME DENIRO LOOKED INWARD TO FIND THE REAL UNSETTLING BEHAVIORS OF SOMEONE LIKE TRAVIS BICKLE? NO, HE DOESN'T HAVE TO PLAY THAT KIND OF SOCIOPATHIC CHARACTER AGAIN, BUT TO DEMONSTRATE HE STILL HAS MASTERY OF THAT 1000 YARD STARE AND UNHINGED MYOPIA? NO, NEITHER OF THOSE GUYS HAS EXERCISED THOSE ACTOR MUSCLES.

MEANWHILE ELLEN BURSTYN, HARVEY KEITEL, IAN MACKELLAN,  JULIE CHRISTIE, JIM BROADBENT, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHERS ARE STILL THROWING FUCKING 99 MPH.

7. ACTING IS BY ITS VERY NATURE SOCIOPATHTIC

WHAT?

OKAY. SO HULK DOESN'T MEAN SOCIOPATH IN THE  STAB PEOPLE SORT OF WAY (THOUGH THAT CAN HAPPEN). THE REAL DEFINITION OF SOCIOPATHY (WHICH ACTUALLY ISN'T A SCIENTIFIC WORD BUT AN AMALGAM OF OTHER CONCEPTS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE PSYCHOPATHY IT IS MOST CONFUSED FOR) IS THAT IT REFERS TO SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO SOCIALIZE NORMALLY WHEN IT COMES TO THE WAY THEY ACT VS. THEIR INTERNAL EMOTIONAL PROCESS. BASICALLY THE SOCIAL HARD-WIRING IS SCREWED UP. SO WHEN THEY SEE SOMETHING BAD THEY DON'T EMOTIONALLY REGISTER "OH THAT'S BAD!" IN FACT, THEY MAY ONLY RECOGNIZE IT AS BAD AND ACT SAD OUT OF THE FACT THEY KNOW THAT IS WHAT THEY SUPPOSED TO DO. THAT IS SOCIOPATHY. AND TO BE FAIR THERE ARE TIMES WHERE WE ALL HAVE THOSE BEHAVIORS.

NOW LOOK AT POINTS #1 AND #2 AGAIN... YUP. ACTORS ARE BASICALLY OPENLY ENGAGING IN THE ONGOING PROCESS OF CONSTRUCTED SOCIOPATHIC BEHAVIOR.

AND HONESTLY, IT CAN DEEPLY AFFECT THEM. THEY SPEND SO LONG TRYING TO FAKE BEHAVIORS AND SOCIALIZATION, OR HOW TO MASTER THEIR EXPRESSION AND PROJECTION WITHOUT ACTUALLY FEELING IT, THAT  IT'S NO WONDER IT HAS A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THEIR SOCIALIZATION. LOOK HOW MANY QUICK TROUBLESOME RELATIONSHIPS THERE ARE. HOW MANY PROJECTED FEELINGS. LOOK HOW MANY CHILD STARS GO NUTS. IT'S NOT JUST THE NATURE OF FAME, BUT THE NATURE OF ACTING ITSELF THAT COMPOUNDS THIS CHAOTIC SOLIPSISM.

BUT SCREW THE TALK OF HOW ACTING MAKES YOU CRAZY. LET'S TALK BRITISH STUFF!

8.

LET'S NOT CONFUSE CLASSINESS WITH ABILITY

HULK'S FRIEND KEVIN HAS THIS GREAT IMPERSONATION OF KENNETH BRANAGH WHERE HE JUST WALKS AROUND A ROOM YELLING "SHAKESPEARE!" APROPOS OF NOTHING. WHILE IT'S MOSTLY JUST FUNNY IN THAT BRANAGH-SPECIFIC WAY, THERE ALSO THIS UNSPOKEN ELEMENT ABOUT THE WAY WE RELATE TO FOLKS WHO DO "CLASSY" ACTING.

FOR SOME REASON WE ALWAYS CONFUSE SOMEONE DOING IMPORTANT CLASSIC WORKS OR HIGHBROW PIECES WITH SOMEONE DOING GREAT ACTING WORK. PLEASE NOTE: TALKING IN A BRITISH ACCENT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER ACTOR. FOR SOME REASON OUR AMERICAN BRAINS THINK THAT IT DOES AND THERE'S ACTUALLY A BUNCH OF REASON WHY (HULK RECENTLY TALKED ABOUT THE SUBJECT TO NO END IN A RECENT BRITISH DRAMA POST), BUT LONG STORY SHORT: THE EMOTIONAL MOMENT IN ACTION FILM NEEDS TO WORK JUST AS WELL AS ONE IN A FANCY BRITISH PERIOD DRAMA IN ORDER FOR THE MOVIE TO WORK. ACTING AND SERVING THE PURPOSES THE ROLE / GENRE ARE NOT AS FAR AWAY FROM EACH OTHER AS WE LIKE TO IMAGINE.

ESPECIALLY BECAUSE:

9. COMEDY IS HARDER

THERE IS NO ARGUMENT TO BE MADE THAT WON'T SOUND STUPID AND GET INTO NONSENSE CONVERSATIONS OF "WORTH.' FOR ONE, THE ART OF COMEDIC TIMING TAKES A HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME TO LEARN AND MANY TIMES THE TONE OF COMEDY HELPS LESS WITH THE PERFORMANCE THAN THE TONE OF DRAMA.

THERE'S A LOT MORE TO THIS, BUT TAKE HULK'S PLEA THAT "IT JUST IS." AND SOCIETY'S LACK OF GIVING ESTEEM FOR COMEDIC PERFORMANCES IS PRETTY SHITTY.

MOVING ON.

10. ACTUALLY, IT'S ALL HARD

REMEMBER THAT GIRL FROM YOU HIGH SCHOOL WHO WAS THE STAR OF ALL THOSE DRAMA PRODUCTIONS? THE ONE WHO WAS SO AMAZING AND SO TALENTED THE HAD TO BE JUST DESTINED FOR SUCCESS?  AND REMEMBER THAT GIRL WHO WAS JUST SO BEAUTIFUL AND SHE WANTED TO BE AN ACTRESS /MODEL / WHATEVER AND SHE WAS JUST SO BEAUTIFUL THAT YOU COULDN'T IMAGINE ANY WAY SHE WOULDN'T MAKE IT? OF COURSE YOU DO. AND HERE'S THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT BOTH OF THEM.

THERE'S ONE OF EACH IN EVERY SINGLE HIGH SCHOOL IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. SCRATCH THAT. THERE'S ONE OF THEM IN EVERY SINGLE HIGH SCHOOL IN THE ENTIRE FIRST WORLD AND SOMETIMES BEYOND... AND MOST OF THEM COME TO NEW YORK OR LOS ANGELES TO MAKE IT.

THAT IS THE TRUTH. WE STILL CLING TO TO THIS IDEA THAT MOST OF THEM ARE SMALL TOWN FOLKS WITH A DREAM, BUT ACTUALLY MOST OF THEM ARE PRETTY DARN GOOD ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. BUT A LOT OF THEM WILL EITHER SIMPLY BE "NOT GOOD ENOUGH" OR EVEN IF THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH, THERE'S JUST GOING TO BE SOMEONE WHO IS BETTER. AND AMONG EVERYONE WHO IS BETTER,  THERE JUST MAY BE SOMEONE WHO IS LUCKIER.

AND IT FUCKING SUCKS.

BE KIND TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO IS TRYING TO BE AN ACTOR BECAUSE IT IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY HARD THING TO DO. AND TIP WELL.

PART TWO - METHODS OF ACTING

SO IN PART ONE WE'VE ESTABLISHED SOME OF THE OBSTACLES, DIFFICULTIES, AND ODD DYNAMICS OF ACTING, BUT HOW EXACTLY DO ACTORS GO BEYOND THESE OBSTACLES TO FIND THE "EMOTIONAL CORE" HULK REFERENCED BEFORE. WELL, THERE ARE A SERIES OF APPROACHES, TECHNIQUES, AND METHODS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY GEARED TO CREATING THESE SEEMINGLY GENUINE MOMENTS. AT THIS POINT HULK COULD EASILY SLIDE INTO A VERY DETAILED ANALYSIS OF ACTING HISTORY AND THEORY, BUT QUITE FRANKLY THAT WOULD BE FUCKING BORING. MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT WOULDN'T BE ALL THAT PRODUCTIVE FOR INTRODUCTORY PURPOSES. BESIDES THERE'S ACTUALLY A LOT OF ARGUMENT ABOUT WHETHER SOMETHING CONSTITUTES A TECHNIQUE, SCHOOL, OR METHOD, AND THOSE ARGUMENTS OFTEN MISS THE POINT. SO FOR PRACTICAL PURPOSES HERE ARE THE MOST GENERAL-YET-STILL-ACCURATE WAYS OF DESCRIBING THE DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO ACTING.

1. CLASSICAL ACTING / THE SYSTEM

SO THIS GUY NAMED KONSTANTIN STANISLAVSKI IS THE SORT OF GODFATHER OF ACTING AND HE CREATED THIS COMPLEX THEORY OF TECHNIQUES CALLED THE "SYSTEM." THIS THEORY ULTIMATELY INVOLVED MANY DIFFERENT FACETS, BUT HULK BELIEVE THERE ARE TWO THINGS AT THE CORE OF HIS THEORY. FIRST THERE IS THE GIVEN TRUTH THAT THE AUDIENCE'S ABILITY TO PROJECT AND INVOLVE THEMSELVES WITH A CHARACTER ON STAGE AND JUST NOT WATCH THEM, INHERENTLY CREATES A HYPOTHETICAL REALITY. THE TWO THINGS AN ACTOR THEREFORE NEEDS  TO BRING TO THIS REALITY ARE MOTIVATION AND OBJECTIVE. MOTIVATION IS THE IDEA OF FIGURING OUT WHAT DRIVES THE CHARACTER, WHETHER IT BE THEIR EMOTIONAL DISPOSITION OR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES. AND THE OBJECTIVE IS THE WAYS THE THOSE MOTIVATIONS EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN THE FORM OF ACTION, GOALS, NEEDS, AND WANTS.

FOR EXAMPLE SAY YOU'RE IN A PLAY ABOUT A YOUNG REVOLUTIONARY AND YOUR CHARACTER HAS A MOTIVATION (HE'S BEEN OPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT, HIS BROTHER WAS KILLED!, HE'S ANGRY!) AND IT SEES THROUGH TO AN OBJECTIVE (HE WANTS TO TEAR DOWN THE GOVERNMENT AND REPLACE IT WITH DEMOCRACY!) NOW THIS IS A VERY CONCRETE EXAMPLE, BUT ACTORS HAVE TO FIND THE SAME SORTS OF ANGLES IN EVEN THE MOST RESERVED AND QUAINT OF PERSONAL STORIES. IT CERTAINLY MAKES IT EASIER WHEN THE WRITTEN MATERIAL FEATURES THE SAME LEVEL OF INTEREST IN MOTIVATION AND OBJECTIVE, BUT IT IS SOMETHING AN ACTOR TRIES TO BRING NO MATTER WHAT. THOSE TWO SIMPLE IDEAS ARE THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF DRAMA. AND PLEASE KNOW THERE'S A REASON HULK SAID DRAMA THERE AND NOT "ACTING" AND THAT'S BECAUSE IT GOES FOR YOU WRITERS OUT THERE TOO.

2. METHOD ACTING

MANY PEOPLE HAVE HEARD OF METHOD ACTING AND THEY MAY EVEN HAVE SOME VAGUE IDEAS ABOUT IT; LIKE THAT METHOD ACTORS NEVER BREAK CHARACTER, OR IF THEIR CHARACTER IS WHEELCHAIR-BOUND THEY CONFINE THEMSELVES TO ONE AS WELL. THESE METHODS OF EMBODIMENT MAY BE A PART OF WHAT SOME METHOD ACTORS DO, BUT IT IS NOT REALLY WHAT THE THEORY IS ABOUT.

METHOD ACTING IS BASICALLY CREATING PERFORMANCE FROM INTERNAL MEANS. YOU LOOK INWARD TO MEMORIES, EXPERIENCES, EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS, AND USE THEM TO RECREATE A REALITY THAT WHOLLY APPLIES TO PRESENT SCENE.

THE USE OF MEMORIES TENDS TO BE THE MOST COMMON. AN ACTOR WILL DRAW ON THEIR OWN LIFE WHETHER IT BE BREAKUPS, BIRTHDAYS, FIRST ROLLS IN THE HAY, WHATEVER. THE IDEA IS YOU CREATE A PRE-EXISTING INTERNAL CONDITION TO DRAW, INHABIT THAT CONDITION AND FEEL THAT CONDITION, AND THEN BRING IT INTO THE SCENE BY EXPRESSING IT OUTWARDLY. EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS LISTENING TO SAD / HAPPY MUSIC PLAYS INTO THIS. HECK, WHEN DANIEL DAY-LEWIS PLAYED BILL THE BUTCHER HE WOULD START THE DAY BY LIFTING WEIGHTS WHILE BLASTING EMINEM.

SPEAKING OF MR. DAY-LEWIS, YES, METHOD ACTING ALSO INCLUDES THOSE EXTREME KINDS OF CHARACTER EMBODIMENT HULK MENTIONED EARLIER. WHILE A LARGE PART OF STAYING IN A WHEEL CHAIR IS MERELY "PRACTICE" IN ORDER TO CREATE AUTHENTICITY, WHAT IS HAPPENING IS STILL THE SAME CORE CONCEPT OF USING INTERNAL MEANS TO CREATE PERFORMANCE. YOU DON'T JUST WEAR THE CLOTHES OR GO TO BOOT CAMP TO GET THE SKILLS, YOU DO IT GET THE PERSPECTIVE. YOU DO IT TO GET THE MEMORY. A MEMORY WHICH ALLOW YOU TO INTERNALIZE HOW TO MOVE IN A WHEEL-CHAIR IN A NATURAL FASHION. OR YOU INTERNALIZE AN ACCENT SO IT CAN NATURALLY COME OUT OF YOU WITHOUT LABOR. IT'S LIKE ANY ATHLETE IN SPORTS, PRACTICE IS REALLY JUST INTERNALIZATION. THERE IS A REASON THEY CALL COORDINATION "MUSCLE MEMORY."

THIS IS WHAT METHOD IS ABOUT. WE GROUND IT IN THESE HIGHBROW THOUGHTS OF HABITATION, WHICH ARE CERTAINLY TRUE, BUT IF YOU HAVE TO CHARACTERIZE THE PROCESS OVERALL IT'S ABOUT LOOKING INWARD TO CREATE AND PROJECT A REALITY.

3. MEISNER

THE OPPOSING SCHOOL OF THOUGHT TO METHOD ACTING IS WHAT IS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS THE MEISNER TECHNIQUE. IN TRUTH, ALL THAT WHICH IS REALLY JUST A SERIES OF COMPLEX EXERCISES, BUT IT HAS COME TO TAKE ON A WHOLE BUNCH OF DEFINITIONS. HULK WILL NOW ATTEMPT TO CUT THROUGH THOSE BITS OF PONTIFICATION TO GIVE A SIMPLER DEFINITION: BASICALLY, MEISNER IS THE OPPOSITE OF METHOD ACTING WHERE INSTEAD OF DRAWING FROM WITHIN, IT FOCUSES ON OUTWARD MOTIVATIONS TO CREATE A NATURAL REACTION, ONE THAT WOULD PRESUMABLY BRING A REALITY OF THE SCENE.

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD BEFORE THAT "ACTING IS REACTING." THIS TENDS TO COME FROM THE MEISNER SCHOOL OF THOUGHT. THE STATEMENT SORT OF MAKES IT SEEM LIKE ALL ONE HAS TO DO IS SIMPLY WALK INTO A SCENE AND REACT TO EVERYTHING NATURALLY AND BRAVO, PERFORMANCE! BUT OF COURSE IT'S MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. MOSTLY BECAUSE OF ALL THE DIFFICULTIES HULK MENTIONED IN PART ONE, SPECIFICALLY HOW HARD IT IS TO GROUND A SCENE IN "REALITY" WITH ALL THE DISTRACTIONS AND LACK OF COMFORT. SO THE MEISNER SCHOOL OF THOUGHT USES A SERIES OF COMPLEX EXERCISES TO HELP MAKE REACTIONS ORGANIC AND NATURAL DESPITE THE "UN-REALITY."

ONE OF WHICH IS THE IDEA THAT "THE WORDS" IN THE SCRIPT DON'T ACTUALLY MATTER. WHAT INSTEAD MATTERS IS YOUR  OUTWARD EXPRESSIONS AND TONE. SO YOU SHOULD THUS DISASSOCIATE YOURSELF FROM THE NORMAL CONVENTIONS OF "HOW THE WORDS SOUND" AND INSTEAD FIND LIVE THE EMOTIONAL GESTURES OF THE LANGUAGE. ONE EXERCISE INVOLVES TWO ACTORS HAVING A CONVERSATION BACK AND FORTH SAYING THE SAME MEANINGLESS WORDS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. LIKE "YOUR SWEATER IS BLUE!" / "YOUR SWEATER IS BLUE!" BUT STILL THE GOAL IS TO CREATE A FULLY REALIZED SCENE OF SUBTEXT, EMOTION, AND TONE. EVEN IF THEY'RE JUST SAYING THOSE SAME WORDS YOU CAN FOLLOWING THE EMOTIONAL STORY: OH HE MADE A JOKE. OH THE JOKE MADE HER MAD. OKAY THEY'RE MAD AND YELLING AT EACH OTHER. OKAY SHE'S CALMED DOWN. OKAY THEY MADE UP. ETC. THIS WORKS BECAUSE ALL STORIES SHOULD BE EMOTIONAL STORIES FIRST AND FOREMOST.

MEISNER HAS A WHOLE SERIES OF THESE KIND OF EXERCISES, BUT AGAIN THEY ARE ALL ABOUT LOOKING FOR OUTWARD ORGANIC MEANS TO BUILD PERFORMANCE. AND AS ACTOR, BY GETTING COMFORTABLE BY REMOVING THE WALL OF INHIBITIONS, IT ALSO YOU TO CREATE A GENUINE IN-THE-MOMENT REALITY.

SO...

THESE ARE THE THREE MAIN ACADEMIC ACTING. MOST OF THE TIME ACTORS USE SOME FORM OF OVERLAP BETWEEN THEM, BUT IS ANY ONE OF THEM BETTER? NOT REALLY. A LOT OF GOOD PERSONA / NON ACTORS ARE DRAWN TO MEISNER FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. BUT IT IS A MYTH THAT THESE NEWBIES ARE SOMEHOW "LESS THAN" OR "JUST COASTING ON PERSONALITY." BECAUSE REALLY THESE SORTS OF ACTORS HAVE BEEN DOING MEISNER-LIKE DISSOCIATIONS THEIR WHOLE LIFE IN ORDER TO FIND A FUNCTIONAL WAY OF BEHAVING IN PUBLIC. THEY'VE ALREADY LEARNED TO SURPRESS THINGS WHICH MAKE THEM UNCOMFORTABLE WHICH TEND TO GIVE THEM OUTWARD, LIKABLE PERSONALITIES. BESIDES, HULK STATED BEFORE THAT TO EVEN SEEM NATURAL ON SCREEN IN YOUR "REGULAR PERSONALITY" IS A HUGE FEAT. THERE REALLY IS SOMETHING TO BEING "GEORGE CLOONEY" ON CAMERA. WHETHER IT'S INHABITING AN ALL NEW CHARACTER OR BEHAVING BELIEVABLY IN YOUR PERSONA, IT IS ALL STILL VERY MUCH ACTING.

AND THE SUCCESS OF ALL THREE DEPEND ON PREPARATION MOST OF ALL. HENCE STANISLAV'S FAMOUS SAYING "AN ACTOR PREPARES"

4. MODES OF COMEDIC BEHAVIOR

HULK WOULD BE REMISS IF HULK DIDN'T MENTION COMEDY, BECAUSE THE COMEDIC APPROACH TO ACTING DOESN'T GET THE RESPECT IT DESERVES... LIKE... AT ALL. SURE YOU CAN LUMP THE PRINCIPLES INTO THE OTHER METHODS EASILY, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIFIC ABOUT COMEDY WHICH MAKES IT WORTH DISCUSSING INDEPENDENTLY.

HULK BOILS THE TWO MAIN ESSENCES OF COMEDY INTO TWO THINGS. THE DRAMA AND THE CLOWN. THE DRAMA FIRST CONCERNS ITSELF WITH WHAT WE'VE COME TO CALL SITUATIONAL COMEDY. THE ACTORS APPROACH THEIR CHARACTERS WITH THE SAME KIND THE PRINCIPALS THEY WOULD AS IF IT WERE A DRAMA (SPECIFICALLY MOTIVE / OBJECTIVE), BUT THE SITUATION DICTATES A SERIES OF COMIC RESULTS. MEANWHILE, THE CLOWN INCLUDES A SPECIAL KIND OF IRREVERENCE AND AMUSEMENT, A FREQUENT BREAKING OF THE SITUATION IN ORDER TO DICTATE SOME LEVEL OF ABSURDITY OR GESTURE, USUALLY USED FOR THE PURPOSES OF COMMENTARY. IN THIS WAY, SKETCH COMEDY AND EVEN STAND UP COMEDIANS QUALIFY AS "THE CLOWN."

THE NEW DOMINANT SCHOOL OF INTEREST FOR COMEDY IS IMPROV, WHO PUT ON A DISPLAY OF COMIC SPONTANEITY THAT SEEMS ALMOST MAGICAL. HOW DO THEY ACHIEVE IT? BY GOING THROUGH THE SAME SORTS OF MEISNER-LIKE EXERCISES AND PREPARATION THAT OTHER "SERIOUS" ACTORS DO. THERE ARE EVEN A SERIES OF RULES THAT GOVERN HOW TO MAKE IMPROV "WORK" IN A FUNCTIONAL SENSE. DO YOU KNOW HOW THEY MANAGE TO KEEP COMING UP WITH ALL THOSE BRILLIANT AND FUNNY THINGS? IT'S A SIMPLE CASE OF NEVER SAYING "NO." WHEN SOMETHING IS SAID IN AN IMPROV SCENE THERE IS NEVER A DENIAL OR REVERSAL. PEOPLE SIMPLY ADD TO THE PRE-EXISTING CONTEXT OF THE SCENE THUS NEVER STOPPING THE JOKE / DRAMA. THIS MANNER OF AGREEMENT GIVES THE SCENE A PLANNED AND COHESIVE FEELING TO THE SCENE EVEN IF THERE ISN'T ONE. IT ALLOWS THE JOKES TO BUILD TO A HEIGHTENED LEVEL INSTEAD OF JUST PETERING OUT. THERE'S ACTUALLY A WHOLE SERIES OF RULES THAT THESE IMPROV ACTORS FOLLOW, AND WHEN COUPLED WITH THEIR ABILITY TO SUPPRESS THE UN-REALITY OF THE MOMENT AND CREATE COMIC PERSPECTIVES TO COME FROM, IT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY.

BUT REALLY, IT'S JUST ANOTHER SCHOOL OF ACTING.

5. ACTING WITHOUT ACTING

THERE IS ALSO AN EMERGING SCHOOL OF THOUGHT HULK SHOULD MENTION, ALBEIT A VERY CONTROVERSIAL ONE. THERE IS A BOOK ON THE SUBJECT... IT'S REALLY MORE OF A PAMPHLET.

SO OKAY, THE SUMMARY OF ALL OF THESE METHODS IS THAT ACTING IS ACTUALLY A COMBINATION OF CONTROL AND RAWNESS. AND ACTOR CREATES THE EMOTION AND LEARNS HOW TO CONTROL HOW THAT EMOTION IS EXPRESSED THROUGH A LONG SERIES OF REPETITION, TRAINING, AND FOCUS.

LET'S KEEP THIS TRAIN ROLLING.

PART THREE - HOW WE SHOULD DISCUSS ACTING

HOPEFULLY THE LAST TWO PARTS HAVE DONE SOMETHING FOR YOU IN TERMS OF PROVIDING THE CONTEXT THAT ACTORS HAVE TO DEAL WITH, HOW THEY APPROACH THEIR CRAFT, AND MAYBE SOME VOCABULARY TERMS TO HELP ARTICULATE IT. SO NOW WE SHOULD BE ALL SET TO TALK ABOUT PERFORMANCE RIGHT??? SADLY, WE SORT OF REACH THE MAIN CRUX OF THE PROBLEM:

THE FIRST IS THAT THE ABILITY TO SPOT HOW THESE ELEMENTS APPEAR ON SCREEN CAN TAKES YEARS.

THE SECOND IS THAT YOU ALSO HAVE TO KNOW A SHIT LOAD ABOUT CINEMATIC STUFF TO THAT YOU CAN APPRAISE WHETHER AN ACTING PERFORMANCE IS THE RESULT CINEMATIC PRESENTATION IS AFFECTING YOU VS. THE WAY THE PERFORMANCE ITSELF IS AFFECTING YOU, OR WHETHER THEY ARE FINDING THAT ALL-TOO-RARE PERFECT SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN THE TWO.

BUT WHAT HULK'S TALKING ABOUT HERE IS THE CONCEPT OF MASTERY. THE TRUTH IS THAT THERE ARE STILL SOME VERY BASIC PRINCIPLES OF HOW OUR CULTURE TALKS BOUT ACTING THAT SHOULD REALLY BE SORTED OUT FIRST.

1. PLEASE STOP SELECTING ACTRESSES BY HAIR COLOR... REALLY... STOP

FOR SOME REASON THAT HULK CAN NOT UNDERSTAND FOR THE LIFE OF HULK, PEOPLE SEEM TO FAN CAST MOST THINGS ACCORDING TO HAIR COLOR. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THEY WILL BLAME A BAD PERFORMANCE ON SOMEONE BEING CAST WITH THE WRONG HAIR COLOR, OR THEY WILL GET VISIBLY UPSET BY THE CASTING OF SOMEONE NOT OF THE RIGHT HAIR COLOR. LIKE IN THE PICTURE ABOVE OF EMMA STONE AS GWEN STACY... PEOPLE GOT MAD THAT EMMA STONE WAS CAST IN THE NEW SPIDERMAN BECAUSE SHE'S A REDHEAD AND GWEN IS BLONDE. SO, YOU KNOW, SHE'S OBVIOUSLY NOT SUITED FOR THE ROLE.... RIIIIGHT. LET'S JUST COMPLETELY FORGET THAT SHE'S AN INCREDIBLE YOUNG ACTRESS.

WHERE TO BEGIN? FOR STARTERS, HAIR COLOR HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU ABILITY AS AN ACTOR OR WHETHER YOU ARE "RIGHT" FOR A PART. SURE, THERE IS A PART TO WHICH ONE'S NATURAL DISPOSITION OF LOOK SAYS WHETHER YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT FOR A PART (AS HULK DESCRIBED IN THE "IT'S ABOUT THE EYES" SECTION ABOVE. HULK, MEAN ZOOEY DESCHANEL'S LOOK WOULD SEEM OUT OF PLACE AS LIKE A HARDENED COMBAT VETERAN OR SOMETHING), BUT THAT TENDS TO BE OVERBLOWN. AND IF "NOT LOOKING THE PART" REALLY DOES MATTER IN A PARTICULAR CASE, HULK PRETTY SURE THAT  FREAKIN' HAIR COLOR IS DEFINITELY NOT A PART OF IT. FOR ONE, MAKE-UP DEPARTMENTS ARE REALLY, REALLY GOOD AT THEIR JOBS AND CAN MAKE MOST DYE JOBS SEEM NATURAL, BUT REALLY THIS WHOLE O.C.D. LOOKS THING GOES DEEPER THAN THAT TO HOW WE APPROACH CRITICAL THOUGHTS.

YOU EVER NOTICE THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE HAIR COLOR WHEN AN ACTOR IS ACTUALLY GOOD IN THE ROLE? HOW THE CRAZY "CRAIG-NOT-BOND" PEOPLE (WHOSE ARGUMENT WAS PREDICATED ON THE IDEA THAT BOND COULDN'T BE A STOCKY BLONDE DUDE) COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED THE SECOND EVERYONE REALIZED THAT CRAIG WAS FREAKIN GREAT IN CASINO ROYALE? OR HOW NO ONE COMPLAINED ABOUT GWENYTH PALTROW BEING A NATURAL BLOND AFTER SHE WAS BOTH FUNNY AND CHARMING AS PEPPER POTTS IN IRON MAN. THOSE CRITICS DISAPPEARED BECAUSE HAIR COLOR DOESN'T FREAKING MATTER. IF SOMEONE IS GREAT IN A ROLE THEN IT'S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. YET THE IDEA STILL LINGERS. WHAT WAS THE REASON JESSICA ALBA AND BLAKE LIVELY WEREN'T WELL RECEIVED IN FANTASTIC FOUR AND GREEN LANTERN RESPECTIVELY? WHY IT'S BECAUSE THEY CAST SOMEONE WITH THE WRONG HAIR COLOR OF COURSE! RIIIIGHT. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE THOSE PARTS WERE TERRIBLY WRITTEN AND THAT BOTH OF THEM ARE ACTRESSES WHO CAN ONLY DO A CERTAIN THING WELL AT THIS POINT.

BUT THE REASON NO ONE THOUGHT ABOUT THOSE THINGS IS BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW ACTING WORKS. THE PEOPLE MAKING THESE HAIR COLOR COMMENTS ARE ABSOLUTELY TREATING ACTORS LIKE PUPPETS. AND WHEN THE TIME COMES TO CRITICIZE A PERFORMANCE FOR NOT BEING SO GOOD, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW EXACTLY TO CRITICIZE PERFORMANCE. SO THEY CLING TO THE ONLY EVIDENCE, READ: TANGIBLE DETAILS, THAT  THEY CAN SEE WITH THEIR EYES. AND THAT'S WHY BAD ACTING PERFORMANCES ARE BLAMED ON HAIR COLOR. GOOD PERFORMANCES? NO ONE CARES.

THE WHOLE WEIRD DYNAMIC OBVIOUSLY GOES BEYOND THE FISCHER-SALLER SCALE. IT HAS TO DO WITH OUR WHOLE BROAD CHARACTERIZATIONS OF PEOPLE "LOOKING THE PART." WHICH IS HUGE TRICKY ISSUE. LOOKING A PART CAN HELP YOU EXECUTE WHAT YOU SEE FOR A CHARACTER, BUT THE TONE OF THEIR PERSONALITY AND ACTING ABILITY IS WHAT TRULY MAKES THE PERFORMANCE WORK. LOOKS-WISE, THE CHARACTER JUST HAS TO CREDIBLE ENOUGH FOR IT TO WORK SMALLEST WAY (MEANING YOU CAN'T CAST JOHN HAWKES AS AN NFL LINEBACKER), BUT AFTER YOU ARE CREDIBLE, IT IS THE PERFORMANCE AND WRITING ALONE THAT CARRIES IT FROM THERE.  WHILE THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLE HAD HUGE RACIAL OVERTONES, NO ONE SEEMED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IDRIS ELBA IN THOR WHEN THEY SAW HOW RIDICULOUSLY FREAKING AWESOME HE WAS IN THAT MOVIE. LOOKING THE PART IS AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS A WEAK AND DISMISSIVE CRUTCH. YEAH IT WOULD BE NICE FOR EVERYTHING TO LOOK RIGHT, BUT YOU SHOULD STRIVE FOR THE STRONGER ACTOR EVERY SINGLE TIME.

2. DON'T BRING NEGATIVE BAGGAGE WITH AN ACTOR

QUESTION: WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON COMMENT YOU HEAR FROM PEOPLE CONCERNING AN UPCOMING MOVIE?

ANSWER: "Oh I like him / her."

THEY ARE SPEAKING OF COURSE OF ACTORS. THERE IS A CAPACITY WITH WHICH WE ALL MAKE THESE KIND OF STATEMENTS, BUT A LOT OF TIMES THIS COMMENT GOES ALONG WITH THE FAMOUS IDEA THAT "THE AUDIENCE THINKS THE ACTORS MAKE IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG." MOST PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE THAT OF COURSE (THEY JUST REALLY WANT TO). IT'S PART OF THE GREAT ILLUSION OF MOVIES. AND WHILE HULK ARGUE WHEN YOU SAY YOU LIKE AN ACTOR YOU'RE REALLY LIKING THE MOVIES THEY'VE BEEN IN (THE EGO OF THE NON-ACTOR-HULK AT PLAY HERE), THERE IS STILL A WAY HULK WILL TOTALLY ACCEPT THE IDEA THAT YOU LIKE AN ACTOR AND WILL GO SEE MOVIES THAT ACTOR IS IN. SO YOU LIKE KATHERINE HEIGL? FINE. KNOCK YOURSELF OUT.

WHERE HULK HAS A PROBLEM IS WHEN PEOPLE BRING NEGATIVE BAGGAGE INTO THE EQUATION.

YOU HEAR IT ALL THE TIME "Oh I hate so and so." THE REASONS FOR THIS DISLIKE CAN BE GOOD, BAD WHATEVER THE HECK, BUT AGAIN THERE ARE A MILLION THINGS AFFECTING WHY WE LIKE AN ACTOR THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR ABILITIES OR PERFORMANCE. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIKE THEM IN A PARTICULAR MOVIE, BUT WHEN IT BECOMES A SOLE EXCUSE NOT TO SEE A NEW MOVIE IT BECOMES A PROBLEM. DON'T LIKE KIRSTEN DUNST IN THE SPIDERMAN MOVIES? FINE. GOOD LUCK MISSING MELANCHOLIA. HULK NOT ADVOCATING SOME PASSIVE EVALUATION PROCESS, OR THAT A HOST OF REASONS CAN'T PREVENT YOU FROM BEING INTERESTED IN A MOVIE, BUT HULK JUST WANT ESTABLISH THE IDEA THAT BIAS SHOULDN'T BE DRAGGED INTO EVERY SINGLE PERFORMANCE. ESPECIALLY WHEN THE REASONS MIGHT BE B.S.

FOR INSTANCE, YOU KNOW WHO HULK THINKS IS A GREAT ACTOR? JUSTIN LONG. HULK THINK HE'S BEEN GOOD IN EVERY MOVIE HE'S BEEN IN FROM HIS STARRING PERFORMANCES TO HIS BIT PARTS AND CAMEOS. HULK THINK HE'S A GOOD STRAIGHT MAN, A GOOD EXTREME CHARACTER WHO CAN PLAY DUMBER THAN YOU OR QUICK WITTED. HE EVEN HAS A NICE SENSE OF ETHOS / PATHOS AT PLAY WHEN HE GETS EMOTIONAL. HULK THINK HE REALLY, REALLY GREAT.

HE'S ALSO THE MAC GUY. AND BEING THE MAC GUY BRINGS ALL SORTS OF CONNOTATIONS AND TONES AND BAGGAGE THAT DEALS WITH COMPUTER POLITICS TO "COOLNESS" AND ASSOCIATED HIPSTERDOM AT LARGE. WHETHER OR NOT THOSE ASSOCIATIONS ARE CALLED FOR, HE IS HELPLESSLY WRAPPED UP IN THOSE CONNOTATIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY HEAPED ONTO HIS ACTING ABILITY.

AND BOY, OH BOY, DO PEOPLE LET THAT THAT AFFECT HOW THEY SEE JUSTIN LONG .

LOOK MAYBE HULK JUST TALKING OUT HULK'S BUTT HERE, BUT THERE'S NO REAL WAY TO REMOVE BAGGAGE WITHOUT JUST MAKING A CONCERTED EFFORT TO DO SO. IT'S LIKE HULK'S "NEVER HATE A MOVIE" PHILOSOPHY AND THE MAIN BENEFITS TO DOING SO JUST ALLOW YOU TO OPEN UP TO BETTER POSSIBILITIES. SO TRY NOT TO BRING THE NEGATIVE BAGGAGE. THERE'S JUST BETTER OPTIONS.

3. WHEN WE CRITICIZE ACTORS WE'RE MOSTLY CRITICIZING THEIR MOVIE CHOICES

TO THE MOVIE GOING PUBLIC AT LARGE, NIC CAGE IS A BONKERS CRAZY PERSON AND TOTAL "OVER ACTOR." BUT WHEN HE GOES INTO SITUATIONS WHERE THE DIRECTOR UNDERSTANDS HOW THIS PERSONA CAN WORK WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE MOVIE? THEN HIS SHOWY, OVERT STYLE TOTALLY WORKS. HIS SOMBER DRAMATIC SIDE HAS WORKED WONDERFULLY IN ADAPTATION, LEAVING LAS VEGAS, AND, UM, ... CITY OF ANGELS? BUT HIS NUTSO WORK RUNS THE GAMBIT OF SUBLIME: RAISING ARIZONA, BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT CALL OF NEW ORLEANS, THE ROCK ... HECK, HULK THINK HULK'S FAVORITE NIC CAGE PERFORMANCE IS ACTUALLY IN KICK ASS.

SO WHAT WE ARE CRITICIZING NIC CAGE OVER IS REALLY ABOUT HIS MOVIE CHOICES, SPECIFICALLY THE ARRAY OF MOVIES HE'S MADE WHERE THE NIC CAGE-NESS JUST DIDN'T WORK. THIS ISN'T LIMITED TO MR. CAGE EITHER.

LET'S LOOK AT THE CHOICES OF OSCAR WINNERS FOR A SECOND. THERE IS THIS COMMON TREND (DATING BACK FOR A SURPRISINGLY LONG TIME) WHERE A PRETTY MOVIE STAR HAS GREAT BREAK OUT ROLE AND THEY END UP WINNING AN OSCAR FOR IT. NOW, NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF CAREER THEY MAY HAVE HAD BEFOREHAND, THE DOOR OF HOLLYWOOD COMES KNOCKING WITH A TRUCK LOAD OF MONEY AND THEY IMMEDIATELY SIGN UP FOR SOME BIG BLOCKBUSTER OR SOMETHING. AND ALMOST EVERY TIME IT IS SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T WON'T DO WELL. THE ACTRESS RESPONDS BY EITHER DOING MORE THAT DON'T DO WELL AND FIZZING OUT, OR JUMPING TO THE NEXT STEP AND LOOKING FOR ANOTHER "PRESTIGE" PICTURE TO RECAPTURE THE SOLID PERFORMANCE THAT LAUNCHED THEM. THIS OFTEN DOESN'T WORK BECAUSE THE CHOICES AREN'T ALL THAT DARING, OR BECAUSE IT'S A BRAINCHILD OF A FRIEND, OR BECAUSE THE PROJECT TENDS TO BE SUPER-VANILLA MOVIE SO NO ONE CARES. EITHER WAY THE CAREER TUMBLES DOWN PURELY BECAUSE OF CHOICES. AND THIS HAS HAPPENED A WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF TIMES.

WHY DO THEY MAKE THESE CHOICES? A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH THE NATURE OF HOLLYWOOD MACHINERY AND THE ALLURE OF MONEY, BUT REALLY IT IS ABOUT PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATING THE EFFECT OF ROLE CHOICES. SO MANY TIMES THEY SAY "OH THAT WOULD BE FUN" THUS COMPLETELY MISSING HULK'S POINT OF HOW EVERYTHING TURNS TO SHIT WHEN THE ACTOR THINKS THE ROLE AS FUN DRESS UP TIME. AND MAYBE THE ACTOR DOES THIS BECAUSE THE ALTERNATIVE IS TO WIN AND OSCAR AND BECOME TILDA SWINTON OR MARCIA GAY HARDEN AND KEEP DOING ABSOLUTELY AMAZING WORK ON THE (RELATIVE) DOWNLOW. THERE'S ONLY A HANDFUL OF ACTORS THAT CAN BALANCE THE HOLLYWOOD MACHINE WITH BOTH PRESTIGE AND INDEPENDENT AIMED WORK (THOUGH THE LINES OF THOSE TWO ARE BLURRING). BUT THE CHOICES REALLY MATTER. IT'S NO ACCIDENT THAT THE PEOPLE WHO WIN AWARDS AND THEN GO "I only want to work with talented people for the rest of my life no matter what the role" TEND TO KEEP HAVING AMAZING CAREERS. MATT DAMON ONLY SEEMS TO WORK WITH GOOD DIRECTORS AND TOOK GOOD SUPPORTING ROLES AND BECAME ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC STARS IN HOLLYWOOD. BEN AFFLECK TOOK ARMAGEDDON AND WALLOWED IN MEDIOCRITY UNTIL FINALLY DECIDING TO GIVE IT A GO WITH REAL CHOICES AGAIN. THE EFFECT OF CHOICES IS EVERYTHING.

BUT LET'S BE HONEST, MOST PEOPLE AREN'T OSCAR WINNERS OR MOVIE STARS SO THIS CONVERSATION IS PRETTY LIMITED.

IN LAST WEEK'S COLUMN COMMENTER PUFFER@DIGITALLOFI TOLD A GREAT JAMES SPADER ANECDOTE ABOUT CHOICES WHEN YOU'RE A "WORKING ACTOR." 99% OF ACTORS ARE NOT OSCAR WINNERS OR EVEN NOMINATED. THEY ARE EARNING A LIVING MOVIE TO MOVIE AND THAT MEANS SAYING YES TO THE WORK, REGARDLESS OF THE QUALITY OF THAT WORK. SURE A LOT OF THEM WILL KNOW IF THEY'RE NOT RIGHT FOR SOMETHING OR IF IT GOES OUT OF THEIR COMFORT RANGE, BUT AS FAR ACTUAL QUALITY IT IS IRRELEVANT. LOOK AT PAUL GIAMATTI'S OUTPUT PRIOR TO AMERICAN SPLENDOR. HE WAS ALWAYS THE SAME GREAT ACTOR, BUT THE CHANCES TO REALLY SHOW WHAT HE COULD DO WERE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. SO WHILE WE CAN CRITICIZE THE CHOICES OF BEN AFFLECK, IT IS MUCH HARDER TO CRITICIZE THE CHOICES OF, SAY, WILL PATTON OR WILLIAM FICHTNER (BOTH IN ARMAGEDDON TOO!). BEING A WORKING ACTOR AND BEING A MOVIE STAR ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT REALITIES. AND HECK, SOMETIMES YOU CAN APPLY THIS WORKING-ACTOR MENTALITY TO THE MOVIE STARS. NIC CAGE IS BROKE AND WILL SAY YES TO WHATEVER WILL HELP HIM PAY HIS TAXES BACK. YOU KNOW WHY ROBERT DENIRO MAKES SO MANY BAD MOVIES THESE DAYS? IT'S BECAUSE HE USES THAT MONEY TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT THE TRIBECA FOUNDATION. WHICH PRODUCES SO WONDERFUL THINGS FOR BOTH CINEMA AND THE CITY OF NEW YORK... THAT LITTLE BIT OF KNOWLEDGE IS COMPLICATING ISN'T IT?

THE TRUTH IS THERE IS A REAL HUMAN ELEMENT TO WHY PEOPLE SELECT MOVIES THEY DO FROM HELPING OUT A FRIEND TO SUPPORTING FAMILY TO WHATEVER THE HECK. BUT THE POINT IS SOMETIMES IT'S A LARGER CASE THEN "THEY'RE A BAD ACTOR SO THEY'RE IN BAD MOVIES."

4. DON'T EVER ASSUME YOU KNOW SHIT ABOUT THESE PEOPLE.

SERIOUSLY.

AND NOT JUST THE TABLOID SHIT WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY PRETTY EVIL.

HULK TALKING ABOUT THE ACTORS WHO PLAY, WHAT WE ASSUME TO BE, THEIR NATURAL PERSONAS. THE REASON IS SIMPLE. ALL YOU ARE SEEING IS HOW THEY ACT. AND HOW SOMEONE ACTS IS NOT WHO THEY ARE. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST. IT CUTS BOTH WAYS. IF SOMEONE IS CHARMING ON SCREEN WE THINK THAT NATURALLY TRANSLATES TO REAL LIFE. IF THEY'RE COLD AND A JERK ON SCREEN. WE THINK THE SAME THING. IT'S JUST NOT TRUE WHATSOEVER. PLUS YOU SHOULD IGNORE ANY GOSSIP. THERE SO MANY TIMES THAT HULK HAS HEARD "Oh I met so and so and they're totally an asshole." OR "I totally heard so and so is a bitch."ALL THE TIME. IT'S ACTUALLY KIND OF PERVASIVE IN THE FILM INDUSTRY. WHICH SUCKS BECAUSE ABOUT 20% OF IT IS ACTUALLY FOUNDED. A LOT OF TIMES IT IS MERELY EMOTIONAL PROJECTION. EVER NOTICE HOW EVERY STORY IS EITHER "THEY WERE SO NICE!" OR "A TOTAL ASSHOLE!" AND RARELY IS IT "HE SEEMED BUSY, BUT WAS NICE ENOUGH TO SAY HELLO AND THANK YOU." WHICH IS LIKE 99% OF THESE ACTOR/ACTRESS INTERACTIONS.HULK COULD HAVE A WHOLE BUNCH OF SPECIFIC STORIES FOR YOU ABOUT HOW CERTAIN PEOPLE ARE SO UTTERLY DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE FROM HOW THEY ARE THOUGHT OF (OR EVEN VILIFIED) BY THE PUBLIC, BUT THEY WOULD BE EQUALLY GOSSIPY AND LAME.IT'S JUST AN IMPORTANT REMINDER. DON'T EVER ASSUME YOU KNOW SHIT ABOUT THESE PEOPLE.

5. LET'S PRACTICE!

SO HULK WAS TRYING TO THINK OF SOME BIG SUMMARY WHICH TIES IT ALL UP AND INSTEAD HULK THOUGHT IT WOULD BE MORE PRODUCTIVE TO GO THROUGH SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF RECENT DISCUSSIONS HULK HAD ABOUT ACTORS AND TRY AND SHOW PRACTICAL WAYS TO DISCUSS THE SUBJECT. FEEL FREE TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS OR PROVIDE YOUR OWN BELOW!

-QUESTION: DOES DONALD GLOVER OVER-RELY ON FACIAL EXPRESSIONS?

HULK WAS RECENTLY HAVING CONVERSATION ABOUT DONALD GLOVER AND HIS "CONTROL." DONALD GLOVER IS AN AMAZING YOUNG COMIC TALENT WHO IS ONE OF THE STARS ON COMMUNITY. HULK THINK HE HAVE GREAT CONTROL, WHILE OTHERS THOUGHT HIS MANNERISMS FELT INORGANIC AND PUT-UPON. THEY WEREN'T MEISNER-LIKE REACTIONS PER SAY, BUT A SERIES OF OVERT FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND POSES THAT FEEL PRE-PLANNED. THE EFFECT OF WHICH IS THAT HE CONSTANTLY FEELS LIKE HE'S IN HIS OWN SCENE. HULK TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THE ARGUMENT, BUT HULK ARGUED THIS WORKS, MOSTLY BECAUSE IT TIES BACK INTO THE CHARACTERS IDENTITY OF LACKING SELF-AWARENESS AND HIS CHILD-LIKE MOTIVATIONS. EITHER WAY, WE BOTH AGREED THAT WHEN HE CUTS LOSE IT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GREATNESS:

-QUESTION: DOES DANIEL DAY-LEWIS SOMEHOW DELIVER A "BAD" PERFORMANCE IN NINE OR IS IT SIMPLY THAT THE DIRECTOR HAS NO IDEA HOW TO GIVE HIS SCENES CONTEXT AND MEANING?

-QUESTION: TO WHAT DEGREE DOES ELLEN PAGE SUCCEED IN SUPER? ELLEN PAGE NORMALLY HAS WRY LITTLE SARDONIC EDGE TO HER ON SCREEN PRESENCE. HULK THINK SHE HAS A GREAT SENSE OF DICTION AND TIMING AND SEEMS FULLY IN CONTROL OF THAT CHARACTER AT THIS POINT. HER PERFORMANCE IN JAMES GUNN’S SUPER IS ACTUALLY A RATHER DIFFERENT TAKE. SHE SORT OF STARTS OF THAT WAY AND MORE AND MORE DIVES HEADLONG INTO THE REALM OF UNHINGED SOCIOPATHY. WHEN SHE DOES SO, HER PERFORMANCE SEEMS TO LACK CONTROL OF EXACTLY HOW TO EXPRESS THAT SOCIOPATHY. NO, THIS ISN’T HULK SIMPLY CONFUSING THE PERFORMANCE FOR WHAT HER CHARACTER IS DOING (IE BEING OUT OF CONTROL) BUT A SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE ISSUE. SEE SHE GETS THE EMOTIONAL CORE RIGHT AND FINDS A REAL PYSCHOPATHIC WILL AND ENERGY, WHICH SHE TOTALLY BRINGS TO THE SCENES. IT IS TRULY BRAVE BECAUSE SHE’S GOING TO SOME REAL DARK AND WEIRD PLACES. BUT IT IS THE UNCONTROLLED EXPRESSION OF THAT ENERGY, THAT DOESN’T FULLY CONNECT. AGAIN, THIS NOT TO SAY THE PERFORMANCE DOES NOT “WORK.” IT IS OBSERVATION OF HOW HER PORTRAYAL OF SOCIOPATHY IT IS DIFFERENT FROM SAY, TOM HARDY’S CONTROL OF SOCIOPATHY IN BRONSON.

-QUESTION: DOES SCARLET JOHANSON’S “DEFAULT SETTING” EXIST AS A KIND OF PERMANENT CONTRADICTION? GHOST WORLD AND LOST IN TRANSLATIONMADE HER FAMOUS AS A SMART, ATTRACTIVE, BUT SOFT-SPOKEN AND ACCESSIBLE PERSONA. THEN THE BLONDE HIGHLIGHTS CAME IN ALONG WITH BOOB ACCENTUATION AND ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE WAS A SEX SYMBOL. AT TIMES SHE SEEMS TO LACK CAPACITY FOR BOTH. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

-QUESTION: IS MERYL STREEP ACTUALLY BAD IN THE HOURS? WHEN HULK FIRST SAW THE FILM, YES, HULK ACTUALLY THOUGHT MERYL STREEP WAS BAD IN IT. BUT A VIEWING LATER REVEALED SHE WAS NOT BAD IN IT. WHAT IT IS, IS BADLY WRITTEN PART. IT REALLY AMOUNTS TO NOTHING BUT AN ON-THE-NOSE CARICATURE OF A LITERARY IDEA BASED ON AN ALREADY FAMOUS LITERARY FIGURE. AS A RESULT, SHE HAS NOTHING OTHER TO PLAY OTHER THAN ONE NOTE HYSTERIA. YOUR THOUGHTS?

THERE’S A WHOLE BUNCH OF QUESTIONS TO ASK AND A MILLION DIFFERENT WAYS TO ANSWER.

… WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY HULK FIND THE CONVERSATION ON ACTING TO BE SO FASCINATING. THE TRUTH OF ACTING IS THAT IT IS MULTI-LAYERED PROCESS AND WE PROBABLY WOULDN’T KNOW THE CAPITAL T-TRUTH UNLESS WE WERE ON SET THAT DAY. YET IT GIVES US FREE REIGN TO EXPLORE SO MANY CONCEPTS OF HOW MOVIES AFFECT US, WHETHER PERSONAS COME OFF AS INHERENTLY CINEMATIC, OR WHO IS TRULY RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCCESS.

WHAT IT PROVES, IS THAT ACTING IS NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULD BE DISMISSING OR EVEN REALLY TALKING ABOUT WITHOUT REALLY GETTING INTO THE NITTY GRITTY SEMANTICS OF EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SUBJECT. THE KINDS OF QUESTIONS ABOVE ARE SO MUCH FUN, AS LONG AS YOU GIVE THEIR VALIDITY A KIND OF RESPECT.

BECAUSE REMEMBER, ACTORS ARE AMAZING.

JOIN HULK NEXT TIME FOR ACTING 102. WHERE GET BUSINESS SPECIFIC WITH TIPS FOR DIRECTORS, AND TIPS FOR ACTORS AUDITIONING / LOOKING FOR CAREER.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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