Acting, aka “make-believe,” is easy, right? Anyone can do it. When you think about it, EVERYONE is an actor in this one-act play we call life. Not so fast…
My own flirtation with this art form came when I took an acting class at UCSB in the summer of 1985. After weeks of study, recitation, and rehearsal, I took the stage as “George,” the male lead in Neil Simon’s Same Time Next Year. I studied my ass off for the part and it was hard. I still get chills when I think of the feeling you get when you receive an ovation as a stage actor. An actor can “feel” the sincerity of an ovation. Is it just a perfunctory motion to usher the actor off the stage, or is it heartfelt and appreciative? Big rush. HUGE rush. Insane rush.
In some of our improv sessions, you could see the imaginations of young minds running amok. Absolutely loved it. I never followed up on my acting, but once this whole pandemic thing is over, I just might give it another start. It’s never too late.
Everyone has their favorite actors and reasons for liking them. I can appreciate the understated Jimmy Stewart and the intensity of Ben Foster. The sarcastic hilarity of Vince Vaughan and the despair of Henry Fonda. I guess I am not a true student of the craft because, to this day and after numerous viewings of Othello, I still don’t see what separates Laurence Olivier from the pack. How actors move the emotional needle is another barometer I use. I don’t care how many times I watch Terms of Endearment, in the scene where Debra Winger is saying her final goodbyes to her little sons, well, I’m getting all goosey right now just remembering it. That’s acting. Another slobberfest for me is the “knight in shining armor” speech Katherine Hepburn gives to Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond. Hepburn and Tracy also got to me in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967. Every married man, hell every man alive, would love to be looked at by a woman the way Hepburn looks at Tracy as he gives his emotion-filled speech to his daughter and her interracial fiancé. These roles were played by Katherine Houghton and the brilliant Sidney Poitier. That movie served more than to merely entertain; it approached a volatile subject in society and the actors were crucial set pieces to transition it from the silver screen into our consciousness. Sound easy?
I’ve seen that look on a woman’s face only once since then. 6-21-87—my wedding day.