Here’s the first excerpt from the 2nd Edition of “Confidence on Camera.” Feedback appreciated. Thanks! -Michael Bean, Head Coach, Biz Studio


What is the difference between acting and lying?

Think about it for a minute—it’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are a couple of common answers:

a) Audiences know that acting isn’t “real.”

Do they? In film and television, you want the audience to care about the character. If the film or tv show is really good, you forget that you’re watching actors and you start watching the character instead. Have you ever had a conversation about a TV character like they were a real person? Have you ever watched “reality” TV? The illusion with any kind of acting is that we’re watching a slice of life—it may be exaggerated, or very different from our own life, but we’re looking for that “real” experience.

b) Liars are always themselves; actors play someone else.

Think about this: when you change the way that you talk or act around a person, is that a lie? You’re just showing a different side of yourself or a different part of your personality. Do you talk to your parents the same way you talk to your friends? What about to your grandparents? A teacher? A police officer? Chances are that you change the way that you talk, the things you say, even the way that you sit or stand (your “body language”). When you make those changes bigger it becomes what actors call “playing a character.” So actors can play themselves—in fact many talented actors start by playing a character very much like themselves on film or television. More experienced actors can play very different characters.

c) Actors “feel” the emotion—liars are just “pretending” by “faking” the emotion.

It’s true that a really good liar can fake an emotion. Think of that girl in elementary school who could fake tears and have all the adults convinced. It’s difficult, but it can be done, and some people get very good at it. That’s what makes a good liar—whatever they’re feeling looks “real” on the outside.

It’s also true that a really good actor can “feel” a character’s emotions as written in a script. The tears in a sad scene are real for the actor, the anger in a scripted fight makes their body shake and their heart pound just like the real thing. That’s what makes a good actor—whatever they’re feeling is “real” on the inside.

d) So there is no difference—they’re the same thing.

I’m afraid it’s not quite as simple as that. Some actors are quite open about the fact that they never “feel” a thing—they are just extremely good at making it look like they do. And if you ever tell a lie and really commit to it, you’ll find that sometimes the feeling happens all by itself even though you’re just “faking”.

The real answer is that to be an actor needs to be flexible.

A good actor needs to develop a range of skills that include some “feeling,” some “faking” and everything in between. The important thing is that your acting both looks real and feels real—how you get there is up to you (whatever works!).

Biz Studio [[Classes for Young Actors]] in Vancouver, BC