How to Make Your Performance Electrifying
You will not achieve this by merely practicing acting, as odd as that may sound. The work you have to do is to make yourself more compelling as a person and that will translate to your acting. I am not saying try to be interesting, like saying interesting things, maybe adopting an interesting hobby, or trying to be funny.
It is something much more fundamental than that. We all have what is called an inner spark. The more you light that inner fire, the more you’ll light up as a person, and thus light up the screen. In ancient Greece this force was called your daimon (see Plato, Republic), I’ll call it your inner fire for the purpose of this article.
Just like you would build a relationship to a friend, you’d build a relationship to this inner strength. The deeper that relationship, the more magnetic you become. As in a relationship, the more you show up and the more you keep your word, the stronger the relationship.
I suggest you do a weekly ritual to get in contact with this inner flame and to do whatever it asks you to do or not to do. Sound scary? It might be, because it might ask you to do exactly what you least want to do, like stop eating ice cream, get out of a toxic relationship, call your mother, or be kind to your boss. That’s why so few people walk through the world on fire.
You do not make a commitment beyond a week at a time. How many of us had New Year’s resolutions that we never kept. Instead, you build this relationship week by week, but, like a solid relationship with a friend, it will take some time to mature. There are actors who show this kind of commitment in their acting, but not in their lives. They might become famous, but they seldomly end well.
The most well known example of this would be probably Marilyn Monroe, arguably the most famous movie star of all time. My point isn’t as obvious as her drug and alcohol addiction, though that is certainly part of it. I think the following story might best illustrate it: At the height of her fame, she walked in the streets of Manhattan with Truman Capote, but nobody recognized her. This struck Capote as odd, so he asked her what was going on. She responded: “Oh, you want to see her?” The next moment, without Monroe changing her appearance in any way, people started to recognize her. While it is possible to switch off and on the magic one has created for the screen (Catherine Hepburn called her version “The Creature”), the daimon doesn’t work that way. It is not possible to turn it off and on at will, as you cannot cut off a friendship at will and expect it to continue at your leisure. In other words, if you do the hard work to connect to your inner fire only in acting and not in your life, you might become famous, but your insecurities won’t go away.
Toward the end of her life, Katherine Hepburn, the most accomplished actor of all time (4 Oscars and 12 nominations), said about herself: “I believed if people knew the person I really am they wouldn’t have been very interested in me.” My suggestion would be to do the hard work to overcome your shortcomings in life through the above mentioned process. It will translate into your acting and, more importantly, you will no longer act to run from yourself. If you do become famous, you’ll be that rare person who is both famous and happy.
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