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Actors as Liars

I have often wondered whether a trained actor would be able to beat a polygraph test. Is the art about deception or perception? Sure we all put up a front in our lives whether its work or relationships, do actors have a leg up in this respect?

  • I'd like to think actors as more in-tune with human emotion rather than "liars" per-say. And i wonder if the question you raise could be applied to lawyers too, when they defend someone they know to be guilty in their heart. It's hard to say really, but i think at the end of the day and actor isn't any more susceptible to compulsive lying that anyone else really. Heaps of people - whether they are actors and lawyers or not, have the ability and tendency to lie. At least with actors, there ability to pretend is put to good use in the form of cinema. – NoorGillani 3 months ago
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  • Actors are people paid to act in front of an audience. I think the topic should ask how actors are able to lie so easily. – BMartin43 3 months ago
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  • beekay,I would actually suggest expanding this idea and talk about how movies themselves are false. Jean-Luc Godard once said that movies are just, "24 lies per second" (in reference to the frames through the projector), which I would say is correct; nothing that happens in a movie is natural because it is all staged, and even if the director tries to be realistic about it and have the actors improvise, there is still a production going on; there's still lighting equipment and editing involved. With that said, I would also address the fact that most people know that what's happening in a movie is fake, so there really isn't any reason to feel like one has been lied to or cheated. – August Merz 2 months ago
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  • This is an interesting topic to consider and as a actor I wonder whether I could, in character, pass a polygraph test. As to whether the art is about deception or perception, well both aspects come into play. We may well deceive an audience into believing what they are seeing and we certainly do play with an audience's perception, but equally so an audience knows it's being deceived and has willingly suspended disbelief for the duration of the play, film or performance. Yes, I suppose we are more in tune with human emotion, but only so far as we study those aspects of a character in order to create a believable performance, although it has come in quite useful for me when dealing with pompous authority figures in my daily life, knowing how to tune my 'performance' to manipulate his/her perceptions and get what I need from them. How are we able to lie so easily? The short answer is because that's what we've been trained to do. It's a skill like any other and to become proficient it takes a lot of practice. – Amyus 2 months ago
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  • Not that I'm a big fan by any stretch of the imagination. I heard on a broadcast documentary for the actor Sean Connery, that he snagged his first movie role by telling a mouthful of lies about his acting experience at a rehearsal. Makes you wonder. – lofreire 2 weeks ago
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  • lofreire. LOL good comment. You should hear some of the porkies Michael Gambon tells about his early life. The troubling thing is that he sounds so genuine! – Amyus 2 weeks ago
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  • There is a underlying current to this topic that just dawned on me. Write about the best deception in a film or by an actor against the worst deception in a film or by an actor. Would that be too far off the mark or more worthwhile? – lofreire 1 week ago
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  • (on NoorGillani) Heaven only knows, actors pay the price for it--Heath Ledger. – lofreire 1 week ago
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  • Perhaps an interesting experiment would be to see how an actor out of character vs. the same actor in character would fare in the polygraph test. – L Squared 5 days ago
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  • I am curious to this. It would be cool to try it. – ivyskiss 5 days ago
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Michael Douglas: Keeping the Audience Reeling

The actor Michael Douglas graduated from University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Drama. The real work began after an impressive portfolio of film and television roles: The Streets of San Francisco, The China Syndrome, Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Black Rain, The American President, Wall Street, and The War of the Roses. He has played: detective, banker, lawyer, reporter; in both an acting capacity and as director. As if that wasn’t enough to qualify on your own merits, he is the son of famed Hollywood thespian, Kirk Douglas. But, success has no limits and Michael Douglas is proof that the territory of theater is his dominion. It is no surprise then that the University of St. Andrews in Scotland bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2006. With a vibrant history of contribution to the arts, one must wonder–what was the allure that kept audiences flocking to the theaters and Hollywood studios beckoning with scripts? One avenue to explore could be the pressure the character has to deal with in front of the camera; crime, career, colleagues, addiction, moderation, or marriage. Who holds the key to a great performance: the scriptwriter, the actor, the circumstance, or the foil? In what way does Douglas figure against seasoned counterparts, gender-ethnic based peers, or immediate audience? Is it a matter of how willing and able the actor is to crossing boundaries (cultural, professional, geographical, personal, ideological) for the sake of the film industry, even if merely for the art? Consider this common thread of crossing material and metaphysical boundaries in the analysis.