Monday, December 26, 2022

The Unbelievable Weight of Massive Talent

Many Americans brought up on a diet of James Dean, Marlon Brando and more recently Nicholas Cage, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, regard actors as larger than life figures whose roles are extensions of their personalities."The method," by which actors delve into their own psychologies to create their parts, derived from The Actors Studio and before that Stanislavski and the Moscow Art Theater, reflects only a minute evolution of a profession that began around 450 BC--the era when Sophocles was first trying to cast Oedipus. In fact, from the earliest days of the theater most actors were possessed with a tabula rasa, a labile sense of self in which character could be molded. Remember the two masks, tragedy and comedy, which symbolize theater. It was the performer's task to fit his personality to the role rather than the role to the personality as became the case in American theater and film. Lawrence Olivier is a classic actor who played everything from Henry the Fifth to Dr. Christain Szell the Nazi war criminal who was a dentist, in Marathon Man. George Clooney or Julia Roberts may play themelves in the succession of movies they’ve done together, but Olivier is totally transformed in every part he plays. You recognize Brando as Kurz in Apocalypse Now,  as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. The Unbearable Weight of Enormous Talent, a parody of the cult of personality, is a homage to Nicholas Cage. However, Oliver is totally transformed as Archie Rice in The Entertainer,. Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Maxim de Winter in Rebecca. It was undoubtedly enormously exciting to find a "method" until it wasn't and you grew tired of seeing Marlon Brando playing himself one more time--however unforgettable Stanley Kowalski's cry of "Hey Stella" was in A Streetcar Named Desire.

read "The Icarus Complex" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Mister Pitiful" by Otis Redding

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