Tuesday 26 October 2010

TRACY CLIFTON - Actor Interview

TRACY CLIFTON is an actress. A very good one who has done a lot of great work, but you probably don't know her. Tracy is like most of the actors in the industry-- doing the best she can each day to find her way in a challenging, unpredictable, and highly competitive industry.

I'm interviewing Tracy because a) I think she's wonderful and I want you all to know about her, and b) Because she represents the bigger, silent majority of actors, who are doing the best they can each day to have a great career and find work that inspires them.

There are a billion actresses out there, and they all want the same roles as you. How do you stay sane?

I was taught this very simple concept by my favorite acting professor in college: Go into every audition thinking, "Here's what I have to give. Can you use it?" And that's how I go into every.single.audition. I have a gift - the gift of being me, in all my spazziness, my enthusiasm, my eyes that change color depending on my mood, my knife fighting skills, my dark sense of humor. Can they use any, or all of it, for the role I'm auditioning for? If the answer is Yes, then great! That's wonderful! We're both blessed by me being hired. If the answer is No, we can't use what you have to give right now, then I don't need to be there, and I don't want to be some place where I'm not needed.

This keeps me sane every day of the week - and keeps me from ever taking it too personally (or getting caught up in the ridiculousness that is being an actress.)

As an upcoming actor - you want roles, but I'm sure you also want to do good, interesting work. So, how important is a good script to you?

A good script and a good actor create a great partnership (American History X, LA Confidential, Children of Men, 40 Year Old Virgin, etc.) but you can still have a bad script with good actors (X-Men 3, Speed, Bad Boys 1 and 2, and most slasher flicks); but it's hard to pull off anything with bad acting. So when looking at a script, I drop the judgment. I'm never going to blame a bad performance of mine on a script because a good actor should sell, and make believable, a bad script any day of the week. Do all actors want the chance to act in movies like The Godfather, Good Will Hunting, The Insider, American Beauty, Pulp Fiction, American History X, etc? Yes. But let's remember this: Star Wars didn't have the best script. But the actors sold it and never turned up their noses, or dialed it in because it wasn't good writing. They found ways to make it work through their performances. And because of that, it's freakin' awesome. So I would say - while it's a nice perk to have a good script, I don't turn down bad scripts. Those are the challenges (and I don't back down from challenges.)

Do you think there are as many interesting roles out there for women compared to men?

I don't, honestly, but instead of complaining about it (which I've probably done on your blog, Kid) I want to change the industry. Not necessarily with a "Mrs. Smith goes to Hollywood" kind of idealism, but with an attitude of: women are just as complex as men. And their stories deserve to be told. Women don't have to be defined by their relationships the way they are portrayed in films (she's the Daughter! Sister! Mother! Bride! Whore! Virgin!) but can be the heroes of their own journeys, being fallible and human while still being fascinating to watch. I would also like to see the industry move away from its fascination with torture-porn and punishing women for wearing tank tops in dark forests, but that's another interview altogether, I think. :)

I would also say that the industry is getting better about this every day - from strong female roles created by Hilary Swank, Ellen Page, Christina Hendricks, Maggie Q, et al, to more thoughtful high school comedies/dramadies that take a girl's point of view into account, such as "Juno," "Easy A" with Emma Stone, or even "Jennifer's Body" with Megan Fox.

What one quality makes you awesome as an actress?

I like to think it's a quality that makes me an awesome person too - I'm a very good listener. I don't just wait for my co-actors to finish speaking while thinking, "Okay, my line's next! My line is next!" but really try to focus on listening to what is being communicated. I like to think this keeps my own performance on its toes because I'll never know what line will really affect me each time, so nothing is fake or forced (As David Mamet said: invent nothing, deny nothing.) Also, I like to think I have some kick ass comedic timing.

Okay, I'm done giving myself compliments. Two is enough.

Everyone wants a 'successful' career --- but what does success mean to you?

Success means doing what I love, and earning enough money at it to not be scared when I have to pay my bills each month. I'm serious, though - I don't need to be a millionaire, I don't need everyone to know my name. I just want to get up every morning and go to work, feeling useful, creative, and as if I'm putting the gifts I've been given to good use. Who could ask for anything more?

Care to share?


  1. Great interview! I especially love the audition advice given to her by her professor.

  2. Thanks Kid, for asking me to do this interview. I'm so grateful you asked :)


  3. I know Tracey as Phoenix. It's amazing to read about her re as a great actress. I've always thought of her a great writer one also blessed with stunning looks.

    It's good to meet you here Kid in the front row. Thanks for advancing my knowledge on Tracey/ Phoenix. I look forward to visiting you again for whatever other treasures you might provide.

  4. Sorry for the extra 'e' in Tracy.

  5. Awesome interview. I also know Tracy from her blog which I have been following for the past few months and she is such an articulate and wonderful person. Best of luck Tracy!

  6. How happy I am to see you interview Tracy!!! And her eyes change color depending on mood? How awesome :)