Plunket in Wonderland

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Acting

My biggest surprise after making the decision to revisit acting after a 35-year hiatus was the shock that both it and I had changed. I knew I, of course, would be quite different from the 20-something year-old stage actor I remembered, but what truly surprised me was how little carry-over there was from the craft of stage acting (my only experience) to acting on camera.

I’m sure many a fine actor can move seamlessly between the two, but for me it’s been a constant challenge. As a stage actor I had prided myself on fully utilizing the gift of time to grow into a role. Only after fully incorporating the lines into my being could I attempt to grow into the rest of the character—i.e. to become the character. In acting for the camera it is the opposite. There is no gift of time.

Rather than using time to move toward and hopefully perfect a performance—i.e. to lock it in and thereafter be able to create “the illusion of the first time” every time one steps on stage—I found that stepping before the camera means totally locking into the moment in hopes of creating bits and pieces that ultimately attach themselves to each other to become (with the guidance of a gifted director and editor) a whole.

Rather than moving toward cementing an ideal performance, we, as film actors, are asked to constantly create, to never lock in, or, at least, to always be able to alter and play with a newly created “moment.” It becomes a new and rewarding challenge every time a film director yells “action!”