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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd 

 

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Entries in Actors on Actors (24)

Thursday
Jun182015

Ann Dowd: Quick Notes on Six Roles

The Film Experience is proud to turn today over to the great actress Ann Dowd. Enjoy... 

The cast of "Garden State"

- by Ann Dowd

Nathaniel tells me these are his favorite characters from my filmography and since I've taken over The Film Experience for the day, here are quick notes on each.

"Olivia" in Garden State (2004)
Loved. Zach Braff really had it together- wrote, directed, starred in. He was very clear about what he wanted which is always a pleasure.

"Cookie Kelly" in Freaks and Geeks (2000)
Hysterical. Writers, actors, everybody was talented and young and funny. I love that role - she was delicious and twisted.



 

"Sister Maureen 'Mo' Brody" in Nothing Sacred (1997)
Sister Maureen was a wonderful role, so well written, a lovely cast. I have two aunts who are Catholic Ursuline sisters so I know something about that world – how educated they are, how generous and caring and complicated they are. The way the role was conceived by Bill Cain reflected the truth about that world and it was a pleasure to work on it. 

"Sandra" in Compliance (2012)
Another beautifully written role. I have tremendous empathy for that character, not having a guidance system of her own. How derailed her life became. Great director Craig Zobel.


"Estabrooks Masters" in Masters of Sex (2013)
Oh my gosh, what I remember most about the first season is just the feeling of hitting that ground running. Michelle Ashford's writing is great. A really terrific cast - Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald. The stories were very strong and I love the character of Estabrooks. She's clear and unfaltering and also able to admit her mistakes, apologize and then move forward. Loved her.

 

"Patti" in The Leftovers (2014)
We already spoke at length about this role but there was a lot of camarederie on set with Amy, Liv, and Justin. The atmosphere was so surreal -- keep in mind that sometimes we were shooting in the middle of the night in the cul-de-sac somewhere 45 minutes out of the city -- no sense of time or space. On one of the first days of shooting the first A.D. Vebe Borge didn't speak in solidary with the Guilty Remnant. How's that for commitment?

Thursday
Jun182015

Falling in Love with Acting (and Advice for Young Actors)

The Film Experience is enormously proud to hand the site over to Ann Dowd (The Leftovers, Masters of Sex). She will be guest blogging all day. - Editor.

As Patti on "The Leftovers"

-by Ann Dowd

The awareness, the love story, for me began in high school. Acknowledging it came later. I’m talking about falling in love with acting and committing to the life with all its ups and downs.

You know, you do a play in high school and you think “Wow, this is kind of great.” For me it was playing Adelaide from Guys & Dolls -- it just about did me in with joy. But it never occurred to me, and I’m sure this is true for many others who didn’t grow up in a theater environment, that you could choose to be an actor.  It just wasn’t an option. 

I was in premed for four years in college. But I also took acting classes each year and that's where I found peace and some sense of fufillment. There it was, that feeling again, a deep love. The role that changed my perspective on whether or not I could really be an actress as a life choice was Sonya in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It was that quiet voice again which said, "I want to live in her life."

It’s a simple thing, from my perspective now years later, about knowing whether you want to do this and whether you can commit for life.  And that’s in this question: 

Can I step into the life of another human being in an open and truthful way without judgment?

There’s a connection that happens when you’re acting that transcends just about anything. When that happens — and it doesn’t always —  but if it’s deep and it happens enough there’s an awareness that you could really live this life with all its ups and downs. So I made the change in senior year of college, auditioned for an acting school, got in, and essentially never looked back. It was very hard, many ups and downs. But there was never a question of “can I do it?” It was that I had to do it. Plain and simple — it was the only thing that made sense to me. 

Returning to Chekhov years later on Broadway in "The Seagull" with Kristin Scott Thomas and company

For Those Starting Out
Many young actors starting out want advice — “how do I get an agent?” is usually the question — and I'm afraid I don't have much advice on that issue.  When I look back now 30 years, when I think of what a young actor needs to be successful in this business, for me it comes down to the following: a fierce energy, a single mindedness, a refusal to consider failure or giving up as an option, and an unshakable belief that you have a rightful place in this work. Youth has that in it's favor. 

And I can offer this: stay deeply connected to your love of acting. Put your head down and keep going, even if there aren’t roles, or if they go well or don’t go well. In the moments when you’re alone, slow it all down. Step away from technology as much as you can, observe and listen to life as it unfolds. Live your life. Work on your relationships. You will need all of those things as actors. You need perspective. If you have personal issues, seek the help you need to get through them — you need an understanding of suffering and pain but you do not need to spend your life doing that to make the work good! 

Attend to your life in other words. Know and believe that it’s going to work out. If you love what you’re going to do and you do the work to get better as an actor,then you’re going to get the support you need.  

I know that sounds naive but I honestly believe it’s true.

Next: The Leftovers

 

Tuesday
May052015

What I Learned From Paul Rudd (& Other Cool People)

At the premiere of Avengers: Age of UltronThe Film Experience welcomes rising actor David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man, Animals, Prisoners) who has taken over the blog for a day! -Editor


-by David Dastmalchian

The following are some rad people that I had the chance to work with or work near or at least stand across the street from – and the cool stuff that I learned while watching them.    I’ve kind of fashioned my entire life that way: honing in on the people who are really good at what they do and, well, trying to copy-cat them.

PAUL RUDD.  
LESSON: ‘Keep the scene rolling until they yell ‘cut’.  And be nice to everyone. And always carry cash’. 

It’s very intimidating to work on scenes with an actor who can continue to improvise past the text until every single person within a hundred feet is laughing out loud.  I had the opportunity to work with Paul on his upcoming Ant-Man for Marvel Studios directed by Peyton Reed.  Paul had an extreme amount of physical work to do with his preparation, as well as re-writing the project and he was incredibly focused.  He came to work each day prepared to make the most out of the scripted text – while being simultaneously open to improvisation as soon as the director gave him the green light.  It was amazing.  He is an endless well of ideas and he’s also very generous, so he would turn to me sometimes when he was on a riff and toss me a golden line.  I dropped as few as possible.

More Paul and other cool people after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec162014

Open Thread & Roundtable Madness

I have been comically beset by obstacles this year so even though I'm roughly three weeks behind, I have to laugh a little at the strange stumbles and ouchy falls and just go... okay, well then. This is an interesting view of the floor! (apologiez: Oscar chart editing functions are somewhat on the fritz. trying for workarounds to fix)

Angelina Jolie talking about directing plane crashes and visual effects. Mike Leigh, hilariously also in this shot.

One of the victims of this impossible season for me at least has been THR's roundtables. I literally haven't watched a single one of those sometimes highly enjoyable if aggravating celeb gatherings. Not even the Actress Roundtable! (I'm certain it was its vibe of "The Amy Adams Show: Episode 5"  that killed my will to press play on the only day I had 50 minutes free on weeks ago. Important distinction: Amy Adams the actress is often very exciting to watch. Amy Adams the celebrity is like wallpaper.)

So consider this an open thread in which you can complain about all the Oscar stories we haven't covered this past couple of weeks (the charts WILL be updates tomorrow, damnit) and which exact minutes of these roundtables you would recommend that everyone including your host here must watch RIGHT NOW. The Hollywood Reporters six awards season roundtables to date follow. All five plus hours of them in case you've missed one. Or all six like me.  Along with the videos after the jump are the single questions per roundtable that I am pretending they answered...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec142014

"As You Wisssssssh" - Missi's Favorites

Favorite Movie

-by Missi Pyle

I have seen The Princess Bride about 200 times. I remember I saw it in the theater as a Double Feature with my friend Christy Brown in the 8th grade. It was playing with Dirty Dancing randomly. And when both movies were over. My friend Christy was totally floored by Dirty Dancing and I thought she was an idiot. I was like - wait the Princess Bride is the Best Movie ever Made. And she was like - no- Dirty Dancing.

The friendship didn't last.

But I just kept watching that movie over and over. I think it's where I developed most of my sense of humor. I have gotten to meet several people from that movie: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn. I never know what to say. I just can't even handle it.

I know its a lot of people's favorite movie. I don't care. If there is a heaven that movie will be playing on a loop in the background.  

Favorite actors?
There are zillions but a random top 5...

Christoph Waltz -Fuck me. He is so good. I kind of think I should just quit. He blows me away

Robin Williams -Pure magic. Good Morning Vietnam? What? Who can do that? Again. I should just quit. I got to work with him on The Crazy Ones. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. 

Judy Davis -Her performances in Barton Fink and Husbands and Wives just slaughtered me. 

Ryan Gosling - I did a table read with him once. A table read. That is all. He looked at me across the table and... no he looked INTO me. Yes. he's hot. But that wasn't it. All the sudden there was this moment happening. It was some of the best acting I have ever done. What is it they say about acting? It's all about the other person? Anyway. That was what he did. He made it all about me. And all the sudden it was real.

(sigh)

Madeline Kahn- Genius. I bow down to and sometimes talk to now that she is in the spirit world. I often get into a character and think WWMKD? And that is how I go about the character.

 

Editor's Note: We hope you're enjoying today's celebrity guest blogger Missi Pyle. She'll be back tomorrow afternoon for two final and truly awesome posts (after a brief interruption for awards business and Critics Choice Award Nominations). Are her favorites also dear to you?

Monday
Oct132014

Viola Davis, Vanquisher of the Unspeakable

Manuel here with your daily reminder that this is Viola Davis’s world and we’re just living in it. Remember Jessica Chastain (she, champion extraordinaire of actresses all around) telling us that "Viola Davis is one of the greatest actresses in the world"?

Well, it shouldn't surprise us, but Ms Davis is as graceful a person as she is a performer. She was one of several women celebrated by Variety this past weekend at their “Power of Women” luncheon. The roster alone should get you excited: Davis, Reese (don’t call it a comeback) Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and producer Donna Langley. That they all got beautiful covers and editorial photo shoots is just an added bonus for us readers.

But it was Viola, being recognized for her work with the Hunger Is initiative, who once again showed us why she’s so fearless and magnetic on and off camera. Her speech below is a brave and touching call to action, and I won’t shy away from mentioning that it made me shed a tear or two. As she notes, she’s intent on getting rid of the word “unspeakable,” for everything should be spoken about, including one’s shame and one’s maybe-not-so-happy childhood. Watch her follow her own advice:

What can one say after that? Do you also wish we knew what it is that Viola's husband says to her every day? Are you just as happy that Davis is being feted left and right these days?