Here’s the first excerpt from the 2nd Edition of “Confidence on Camera.” Feedback appreciated. Thanks! -Michael Bean, Head Coach, Biz Studio
ACTING & LYING
What is the difference between acting and lying?
Think about it for a minuteâ€”itâ€™s not as easy as it sounds. Here are a couple of common answers:
a) Audiences know that acting isnâ€™t â€œreal.â€
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 youâ€™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 â€œrealityâ€ TV? The illusion with any kind of acting is that weâ€™re watching a slice of lifeâ€”it may be exaggerated, or very different from our own life, but weâ€™re looking for that â€œrealâ€ 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? Youâ€™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 â€œbody languageâ€). When you make those changes bigger it becomes what actors call â€œplaying a character.â€ So actors can play themselvesâ€”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 â€œfeelâ€ the emotionâ€”liars are just â€œpretendingâ€ by â€œfakingâ€ the emotion.
Itâ€™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. Itâ€™s difficult, but it can be done, and some people get very good at it. Thatâ€™s what makes a good liarâ€”whatever theyâ€™re feeling looks â€œrealâ€ on the outside.
Itâ€™s also true that a really good actor can â€œfeelâ€ a characterâ€™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. Thatâ€™s what makes a good actorâ€”whatever theyâ€™re feeling is â€œrealâ€ on the inside.
d) So there is no differenceâ€”theyâ€™re the same thing.
Iâ€™m afraid itâ€™s not quite as simple as that. Some actors are quite open about the fact that they never â€œfeelâ€ a thingâ€”they are just extremely good at making it look like they do. And if you ever tell a lie and really commit to it, youâ€™ll find that sometimes the feeling happens all by itself even though youâ€™re just â€œfakingâ€.
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 â€œfeeling,â€ some â€œfakingâ€ and everything in between. The important thing is that your acting both looks real and feels realâ€”how you get there is up to you (whatever works!).