Comments that professional actors have made about their craft.
Jeremy Strong of Succession fame had this to say:
“Most of acting is about preparation, so that if you are armed with a visceral understanding of this character, you can get to set and essentially just play and be in the moment. And I’d say or do anything formed by that understanding.” – Jeremy Strong
This resonates with something Al Pacino said:
“A lot of acting is private time.”
A lot of people are attracted to the playing and being in the moment part of acting, but as Strong says, in order to do that playing and being in the moment effectively you need to have an understanding of the character that is visceral, that lives in your gut. In my Los Angeles acting class, a big part of what I teach is how to do that preparation to achieve that visceral understanding. It starts with the Five Questions framework, in which the actor is asked to identify and organize the given circumstances of the character as provided by the writer. The actor can use his or her imagination to extend and enrich those circumstances in a process called “fanning the flames.” The Five Questions culminates in the question of what the character needs, and we try to a identify a “hot”, visceral need that the actor can pursue as the character. Then I teach the actor the processes of particularization and personalization, so that he or she comes to know the world of the character and the character’s experience intimately, with sensory richness, and comes to care about what makes up that world in the manner that is appropriate to the character.
All of this is the instrospective work of the actor. It’s the work that the actor does alone. It’s the daydreaming and the thinking. It’s what orients him or her to be ready to play and be in the moment on set.