Method Acting Works

I was laid out with the Flu recently, and it gave me a little time to search the internet to see what is out there on Method Acting found this article written pre-Oscars, that suggests that Method Actors are more likely to win in Oscar season.

Specifically, the writer does a tally that concludes “more than 100 Oscars have been won by Method actors…..” Further, it offers the following statistic: “Since 2000, around 75 per cent of Oscar winners have been Method actors….”

I will admit to not having done the research on those numbers, but intuitively they sound about right. So does that mean that classical training (the preferred option in much of the UK and the rest of Europe) is no good? Of course not. A great actor can come from anywhere, and our work only ADDS to the technical skills that a classical training can build.

What it does suggest, though, is that the kind of connection to your work that Method Acting encourages makes for a strong bond with the audience. I mention this because some people mistakenly believe that an actor’s focus on their own reality somehow takes them away from the story and away from the audience.

In practice, we see the opposite. The more focused you are on what you are doing, the more the audience watches, understands, and connects to you and your character.

Have you ever watched a room of people with a baby crawling around? Eyes are immediately drawm to the small creature. We are fascinated. The baby couldn’t care less about us or what we are doing. It is completely immersed in its world, and we cannot pull our eyes away. That kind of focus is powerful, and it is a skill we actively build.

I once ran an audition where an actor brought her young golden retriever puppy into the theater with her. Big mistake…. The director and I could not stop watching the dog! Every time she would speak, the dog would move its head slightly or wag its tail and we were mesmerized. It led to the director suggesting that we cast the dog instead!

Concentration is the muscle that we begin to exercise in the very first class, and it leads directly to the kinds of results that move audiences.

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Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 2:23 pm  Comments (5)  
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  1. Having been to acting schools in the UK, and having visited Strasberg I can say this is very true. I have been longed to attend Strasberg in LA for a long time and left english schools to go there. I will be there at the end of this year.

  2. I find that nearly every exercise, advice, or admonition I give to actors revolves around concentration. Those who can find that type of intense focus that is associated with method actors are always interesting to watch. Sometimes they are scary, though…

    • Quite right. Concentration is THE tool for the actor. It is what enables the mystical thing called talent. My father’s belief was straightforward then – how can we build that capacity in an actor? How can we train and channel our talent?

      That is where our sense memory exercises developed. In many ways, the popular conception of the debate: “Experience vs. Imagination” is a red herring. Whether something really happened or is made up is less important the focus with which an actor creates it. That is concentration, and my father believed that those exercises were his greatest contribution to the actor’s work.

  3. Mr. David Strasberg.
    I attend the lecture by Mr. Neill Bagg at Marilyn Monroe Theater. He says most important for actor to succeed is f**kability. He always looking for f**kability. Do you agree? Why is he teacher at Lee Strasberg? Is it the same philosophy for this school?
    Thank you for your attention,
    Petra

    • Thanks for your question, Petra. I have heard Neil, who is a successful agent not an acting teacher, say the same thing and I called him on it. What he told me then was that his phrase is not about how someone looks, it’s about how they look at you. He wants to represent people who are engaged and active. People who are DOING things instead of waiting for things to happen. He says that is sexy and attractive, and he wants those types of clients. I told him that I don’t like the word as I think it misrepresents his intent and reinforces what many people already think about agents.

      Frankly, Neil is one of the good guys – he works hard to develop his actors and he sees the value in talent that goes beyond body measurements or cheekbones. In fact, his wife studied at Strasberg back in the day!

      I think the bigger question for Neil – and for an actor to ask themselves – is if I am not one of those model-types (or even if I am!), how do I get representation? How do I get seen in LA? How do I make an Impact? I think if you had called him on it, you might have gotten an answer to that very important question.

      In this town, I don’t care how pretty/handsome you are, we can fill a room with 500 people who look just like you. So how do you stand out?

      You do The Work.

      You use your talent to its maximum potential. You find a moment of truth in everything you do as an actor. You live! That actor jumps out at us. That actor is the one we want to see again. The others are just screen savers that flash in front of us and then disappear, replaced by another one and you can barely tell the difference.

      All that said, I still don’t like the word he uses and don’t think it represents him well. But, of course, we ask an agent for his opinion and we get it – be careful what we wish for.


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