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Tuesday 17 April 2012

KITFR Acting Class

Hello and welcome to the Kid In The Front Row acting class. Take a seat and don't chew gum!

1. Watch every single film you can find that stars RICHARD JENKINS. Watch every frame he's in. He's not a 'movie star' like Brad Pitt, but he's an actor who every director wants to work with. EVERY MOMENT is true. I just watched 'Flirting with Disaster'; it stars Téa Leoni, Alan Alda, Ben Stiller, Josh Brolin and Patricia Arquette. But it's Jenkins who TOTALLY steals the show. You can't take your eyes off him.

Find the earliest stuff you can find of him then trace it forwards, see the evolution of his career. Jenkins is precisely what acting is about, he is the reason you want to do it. He's rarely a lead. He's that guy that turns up after 40 minutes and blows you away. 'Dear John' was a vehicle for Tatum and Seyfried but Jenkins was transcendent. He reached right through to your frickin' soul!

And you must see him in 'The Visitor' - a wonderful indie movie in which he plays the lead.

2. Watch 'Inside The Actors Studio' with James Lipton. You get to see the journeys of all the greats. I know you all watch this when you can, but it should be your RELIGION! I watched the Jim Carrey one this morning. You realise just how much incredible work he's done, and when you hear him speak you can really see WHY. He spent his whole childhood in front of the mirror pulling faces. He made huge decisions all throughout his career. He had crazy self-confidence. There are more lessons in that 35 minute episode that a whole year of drama school.

3. Linked to the point above, you need to stop seeing the stars as something different than you. They're just people. They have children, they have bodily problems, they have arguments with their parents. They're exactly like you!

4. Listen to the 'WTF with Marc Maron' podcast. I recommend the interview with Michael Cera. Maron is the king of asking mundane questions about everyday life, but it's FASCINATING! And he asks Cera things bluntly, like what will he do when the hype dies down and he can't sustain the career? They go off into tangents, but they're tangants that you can relate to, because you're EXACTLY LIKE THEM!

5. Make decisions about your characters. DECIDE something. Bring it to the table.

6. Re-watch the actors that inspire you. When you were 15 you got OBSESSIVE, but then at some point it seemed uncool so you branched out. But you need to go back to that now. You need to see every single frame of the people who MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU. There's real JUICE in that! Find out EXACTLY what makes your heroes tick. 

7. Stop moaning about auditions or a lack of auditions, no-one gives a shit and you sound like a moaning idiot! You think you're the only actor to suck at an audition? There are 20,000 actors in L.A. with a sob story. There are millions all round the world. Be one of the view who just gets the hell on with it.

8. Don't do acting classes just to feel better about yourself. Just do the ones that really matter. Most short term acting classes are just a con!

9. Get your showreel together NOW. NO EXCUSES.

10. Listen to actor interviews on the commute. Read autobiographies when you're in the passenger seat. Everyone else is too slack. If you have three unfinished autobiographies by your bed, you're doing it wrong. You're meant to finish them. You'll get better acting work when you finish what you started.


  1. I love this. I couldn't agree more about WTF podcast (especially that great Cera chat), about the great, perennially underrated Richard Jenkins (he really lights up every film he's in), and the oftentimes insightful interviews on Inside the Actors Studio. Good stuff!

    By the way, I now kind of want to watch all 98(!) Richard Jenkins performances.

    1. I expect you to have watched them all in time for the next class! :P

  2. I agree with all except #10 - You don't need to study other actors lives in order to be a better actor yourself. You need to study LIFE. Go out and people watch. Study how different people walk and talk, how they gesture, study accents! I'm terribly at them and I have very little discipline. And that's why I realised that maybe I don't want to be an actor REALLY. If you REALLY want it you will do whatever it takes. You will be constantly studying and perfecting your craft. So #11 - decide, is this really what you want? Do you want to devote the whole of your life to performing? Are you willing to struggle financially indefinitely in the hopes of making it big one day? Or do you just want the life of a successful actor? because if you're not willing to do the grunt work you ain't ever gonna get there!
    Finally, I know you preach self confidence Kid and I agree to some extent...but I do think there comes a time when as an actor you have to say to yourself 'what am I best at?' and focus on that. I had a friend who frankly was not a great actor but she knew she could be good at improv. She threw herself into that 100% and is doing really well in NYC. So at some point you may need to stop going for every audition and every role going, and focus on your niche.