As a group, actors are incredibly gifted at beating ourselves up. Please stop. Because the very best reason to stop criticizing yourself is that you’re probably doing it all wrong.
Think about it logically: if all the things you beat yourself up over were true – if you’re really as lazy, untalented, unintelligent, unmotivated, and prone to procrastination as that creepy little voice has been telling you … then you’re probably no good at self-assessment, either.
You’re probably not evaluating yourself correctly. Your judgement is off. Your measuring standards are skewed. It’s like taking your temperature with a thermometer you pull out of the freezer instead of the medicine cabinet. Your numbers will be off because your measuring tools are off. Therefore, the habitual ways in which you criticize yourself – based upon your own inaccurate self-assessments – are fundamentally flawed, as well.
This is no lesson in positive thinking. Instead, this is a lesson in accurate thinking. Don’t...
If you’re an old-time boxing and wrestling fan, you know the name Primo Carnera.
Carnera was a phenomenal athlete – and, apparently, a physical giant. He was a circus strongman in his native Italy before traveling to the U.S. and winning the heavyweight boxing title in 1933. You may remember his (somewhat unflattering) portrayal as the giant boxer who Max Baer defeats in the film Cinderella Man. Better still, you can see the real Primo in two of my favorite old-time movies, Mighty Joe Young (1949) and
The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).
If you talk with fight fans of the day, they’ll all tell you the same thing: “Primo Carnera was a giant. He was over seven feet tall.”
Actually, he was six-foot-six, certainly very tall for a boxer, but not quite the seven-foot man-mountain people believed him to be.
There’s a reason for this slight discrepancy between perception and reality. Primo’s handlers – and the promoters of his fights – surrounded him with the shortest men the...
During my college years, I met and befriended Ted Arcidi, who has recently appeared in major films like "The Equalizer 2," "The Town," "The Fighter," and the new Chris Evans series "Defending Jacob." We attended schools that were six miles apart, but met and trained at a local powerlifting gym. Shortly after graduation, Ted became the first man in history to bench press over 700 pounds in strict form competition. He surpassed Bill Kazmaier’s previous world record by more than forty pounds, an incredible achievement. For serious lifters, cracking the 700 pound bench press mark was as significant an event in sports history as breaking the four minute mile. For decades, nobody thought it would ever be done.
What always intrigued me most – even more than Ted's monstrous 705.5 pound lift in Hawaii, and his subsequent world record lift of 718.1 pounds – were the discipline and strategy my old friend employed in pursuing those world records.
We've all written academic essays for high school and college classes, but have you ever thought about writing an original two-character scene or monologue for yourself to perform? This is a terrific creative challenge and offers actors opportunities to really stretch ourselves and push hard against the limits of our comfort zones.
An effective way to start is to try rewriting the ending of a favorite movie, TV show, or play. Even better, try rewriting a scene from a script you didn't like very much. Rewrite it until you like it much better. Rewrite it until you love it. Interestingly, you'll probably find this is a lot harder than you think.
In addition to flexing our creative muscles in a new way, this exercise helps actors step inside the minds of our industry's writers. It will also give you an idea of exactly how complex the writer's job can be. I've always felt that writers are the unsung heroes of show business. Writers are not just technicians who churn out printed pages – any mo...
Weeds don’t need help to grow. They don’t need water, sunlight, fertilizer … or encouragement. They just show up on their own – with no invitation to the party.
They’ll even push their way up through concrete if they have to. They’ll find a way
to show up at your door … and ruin your garden.
What’s negative is always out there. It’s always available. Fortunately, what’s positive is always out there too. Good news is always available. The difference is that what’s good needs a little help. It requires our active participation. We have to invite it into our homes … and into our lives. We have to nurture it, cultivate it, encourage it, and give it a good reason to stick around for a while.
It’s easy for actors – especially during lean times – to sit at a bar and complain about our agents, booking ratios, and relative level of success compared with those around us. Milton Berle said, “when happiness shows up, give it a comfortable seat.” Uncle Milty was right. And, just for to...