Social media is one of the most effective marketing tools for actors, allowing you to promote yourself and the acting projects you are involved with. It is increasingly seen as essential for actors to be active on social media, both in terms of raising their own profile and the profile of the projects they are involved in.
To get the most out of social media, it is important to understand what goals it can help you to achieve and which channels can help you most effectively achieve those goals. In this article, we explain how to use social media for actors across different channels to help you further your professional acting career.
What social media can do for actors
At its most basic, social media can act as a free advert for your career, showing people what you are up to and what you can offer them. This might take the form of sharing what roles you have won, where people can see your work, reviews of your performances, or anything else which demonstrates your value as an actor.
Increasingly, social media is also playing a direct role in who gets cast for acting projects. The number of social media followers you have is often now seen as a plus by producers and other industry insiders. The logic behind this is simple: the more followers you have, the more of an in-built audience you are likely to bring with you for any new project you are cast in.
Finally, social media can be a highly effective way of networking and staying up-to-date with industry news and opportunities. By making the right connections and following the right sources for upcoming auditions and other industry insights, you can increase your chances of getting to the head of the queue when a new opportunity arises.
Which social media channels are most useful for actors?
The best social media channels for your acting career will likely depend on a number of factors.
In terms of popularity, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter are the most used social media platforms, with the following numbers of monthly visitors:
Facebook – 1.9 billion
YouTube – 1 billion
Instagram – 700 million
Twitter – 313 million
You also need to think about who you need to appeal to. If you are promoting a new film project, then it is worth bearing in mind that 64% of cinema-goers are under the age of 35.
While Twitter and Facebook are popular with all age groups, Facebook is the most popular social platform for older users, while younger people are more likely to be found on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. For theatre work, however, your audience is likely to be older, meaning Facebook may be a more effective way of reaching out to your target market.
What are you looking to share?
Social media for actors is all about sharing, but different platforms can be better for sharing different types of content.
One of the reasons YouTube is so popular with actors is it allows you to easily share your acting showreel and other video clips of your acting to instantly show people what you can do.
Instagram is obviously focused around photo and video sharing and this can be a great way of generating interest in both you and your acting projects. You will, of course, want to share your acting headshots, but to create a following you need to create posts full of personality.
Chris Pratt recently got a lot of attention for his funny on-set short Instagram videos about the strict diet he was on while filming Jurassic World 2. The videos didn’t directly refer to the film, but have generated hundreds of thousands of views and helped to strengthen Pratt’s personal brand as an actor and raise awareness of the film.
Facebook, on the other hand, can be great for sharing more in-depth thoughts as it allows you to post longer text-based content, as well as pictures, videos and links to your website, places to buy tickets for shows you are in and a whole range of other content.
Twitter, likewise, is great for allowing you to post links to external content, such as your website, blogs and relevant news articles. It can also allow you to be part of wider conversations relating to the acting industry which can be a great way to network.
Cross-promotion is the key to social media success
The key to effective social media for actors is to understand that you need to be promoting your acting and projects across multiple social media platforms at once, to make sure you get the biggest possible reach.
There are various social media management tools such as Hootsuite which can make this process easier, allowing you to post across multiple social channels from a single place. When cross-promoting, it is important to remember to tailor your posts to the different social channels you are targeting.
A basic example is that you might ask people to retweet something on Twitter if they agree, but this would make no sense if you posted the same thing on Facebook. It’s also worth taking advantage of the extra space afforded by Facebook to craft effective posts, rather than restricting yourself to the 140 characters allowed by Twitter.
Mastering the art of cross promotion means you can connect with more people, while making sure you hit the right demographics for different projects, depending on where your various target audiences are most likely to be found.
Master social media and much more to build your acting career
Understanding the importance of social media for actors and effective self-promotion is just one of the tools successful professional actors need to have at their disposal. To build a successful acting career that allows you to earn a living doing the thing you love, you need to have a complete understanding of the business of acting.
At the Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio, we specialise in both world-leading method acting coaching and teaching our students how to take those skills out into the world and find regular paid acting work. That’s one of the fundamental differences between our approach to teaching acting and what you will learn elsewhere such as drama school.
Our 1-Year Ultimate Acting Programme covers everything you need to succeed as a professional actor, so if you want to turn your acting dreams into your everyday reality, please don’t hesitate to apply today!
It would be impossible to have a conversation about history’s great method acting legends without mentioning Heath Ledger. The acclaimed Australian actor rose to fame in the late 1990s and over the next decade, he went on to receive high praise from film fans and critics around the world.
Heath Ledger starred in an incredibly diverse array of films during his career, and won a huge amount of prestigious awards in the process. One role stood out from the rest and that was also, tragically, his last. This was, of course, Heath’s performance as The Joker in the 2008 superhero thriller, The Dark Knight.
Heath’s dedication to this character is possibly the most famous example of method acting in film history. The final months of his life were devoted to the character of The Joker, something that clearly paid off as this ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed film performances of all time. After his tragic and untimely death, this incredible display of acting earned Heath the extremely rare posthumous Best Actor Academy Award.
It all begins with research
Heath Ledger was famously committed to the method and used method acting techniques for every role he undertook, one of the most important aspects of which is character research. In fact, it is possible that one of the reasons that his performance as The Joker was so groundbreaking was the sheer amount of time he had to prepare and research for the role.
Director, Christopher Nolan, cast Heath before the script had even been written. This meant that he had an unusually long amount of time to obsess over his character, conduct thorough research and get to know and create a back story for The Joker in an unprecedentedly detailed way.
Apparently, Heath’s character research included isolating himself, beginning an in-depth character diary (which we’ll talk more about later on) and studying other bodies of work which depicted psychopaths similar to The Joker. Christopher Nolan said that Heath closely read A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and studied the painting of Irish artist, Francis Bacon.
When asked about his preparation process and how he got into character for his role in The Dark Knight, Heath himself said that he locked himself away in his London hotel room for around a month, writing a character diary and constantly experimenting with different voices. It was extremely important to Heath that he created a truly iconic voice and laugh for The Joker, something that anyone who has seen The Dark Knight will agree, he definitely achieved.
All of this intense research and preparation led Heath to create a truly unique character which he described as a
“Psychopath – someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts.”
Get under the skin of the character
Method acting techniques teach actors how to draw on their own real life experiences, memories and emotions, and use them to whatever role they are playing. Heath Ledger was fully aware of the importance of seeking his own emotional awareness and applying it to his performance as The Joker.
After conducting all of his in-depth character research, Heath had created a deep and fully dimensional character that he could get under the skin of and understand. This allowed him to become that character for the time that he was filming, and meant that he could invoke the most natural reactions and mannerisms possible.
One of the biggest myths about method acting is that performers have to stay in character at all times. In fact, every performer is different and must utilise method techniques in the way that best suits them. Heath Ledger remained in full costume and make-up all day every day during production of The Dark Knight; however, he did not remain in character. Instead, he would keep the character diary close to hand and when it was time for the cameras to start rolling, he would consult this journal in order to get straight back into the mindset of The Joker.
Of course, The Dark Knight is not the only example of Heath Ledger displaying legendary levels of method acting skill. He also won multiple awards for his trailblazing performance in the 2005 romantic drama, Brokeback Mountain.
Director Ang Lee was completely blown away by Heath’s dedication to this role and has been quoted as describing his preparation as “really deep”. Ang even went so far as to say that the actor kept his teeth clenched and his face scrunched up for around two months, and that he refused to let go of the character. During this time, Heath also became very deeply immersed in the gay rights movement.
One anecdote about the filming of Brokeback Mountain came from Heath’s co-star, Anne Hathaway. She played Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife, Lureen, in the film and has been quoted talking about the incredible devotion Heath Ledger had for the script and for his character.
The story told by Anne Hathaway was that Heath almost broke his hand during filming. During one scene where Heath’s character walks away from his partner, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, he takes a sharp turn into an alleyway and – according to the script – cries with his face in the wall. However, according to Anne, Heath
“Really wanted to go there”,
So he ended up punching the brick wall with all his strength. Anne would go on to describe this scene as the moment she realised that Heath Ledger was one of the greatest actors that has ever been.
Act like Heath Ledger
There is no question that Heath Ledger has made a name for himself as one of the most iconic and celebrated actors of all time. He is a perfect example of someone that all new actors in training should aspire to emulate. If you’re inspired by Heath’s legendary performances, then you will need to study the method for yourself.
Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio offers world class tuition on method acting to suit every student’s availability. Whether you opt for the weekend Method Acting Boot Camp or the year long Ultimate Acting Course, you will learn everything you need to know to use your emotions and senses and transform them into a genuinely convincing performance in the same way that Heath Ledger himself did. We can help you master the method and show you the ropes in the acting industry so you can get started pursuing your dream of being a professional actor.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
Robert De Niro is one of the best-known actors working today with a career spanning more than 50 years. He has won 2 Academy Awards, taking home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Godfather Part II and Best Actor for Raging Bull. De Niro has also picked up a further 5 Oscar nominations, including most recently for 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook.
The secret to De Niro’s success is his reliance on the Method. As a younger man he studied acting with the highly respected acting coach Stella Adler and with legendary method acting teacher Lee Strasberg. This early grounding in method acting has helped to shape De Niro’s career allowing him to become one of the most successful and respected actors of his generation.
De Niro is a big believer in acting instinctively. Speaking to Esquire, he said:
“I always tell actors when they go in for an audition: Don’t be afraid to do what your instincts tell you.”
When auditioning, you’re not just selling your vision of that character, you’re selling what you can do uniquely as an actor. By following your instincts, you are showing a casting director what you have to offer them. Even if your audition doesn’t match the casting person’s and the director’s vision for that part, if your performance is good, they will remember. The examples of actors going for one part and ending up being offered another are too many to recount.
Acting instinctively might sound like the opposite of method acting or like something you could do without training. Nothing could be further from the truth. Learning method acting techniques is about training your acting instincts so that when you come to perform, you are capable of allowing those instincts to take over. This leads to totally authentic, unmannered performances. Method actors do their thinking and planning beforehand so that they don’t have to work out what to do next in the middle of a performance; they just know. This is what De Niro means about following your instincts.
Master of subtlety
Although De Niro has given some big, bold performances in his career, one of the reasons he is so respected is for his range. An important thing to understand about method acting is, it doesn’t always mean giving big, demonstrative displays of emotion. De Niro is capable of exhibiting great subtlety in his acting and method acting is often at its most powerful when used in a more restrained fashion. As De Niro once said:
“It’s important not to indicate. People don’t try to show their feelings, they try to hide them.”
This is a key lesson to learn: just because you are using affective memory and other techniques to generate real emotions on stage or in front of a camera, that does not mean you have to let all of those feelings out. With camera work in particular, feeling an emotion and then working to repress it can create a layered and deeply real performance unachievable by other means.
Committed to preparation
Method acting is all about grounding your performance in the real. This is something Robert De Niro understands deeply, which is why he has gone to exceptional lengths over the years to prepare for his roles by finding real experiences to anchor them in.
For his starring role in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic Taxi Driver, De Niro wanted to really understand what it was like to live the lifestyle of a New York cabbie. To achieve this, he went out and worked 12-hours shifts driving a real cab in New York. To play real-life boxer Jake LaMotta, De Niro spent hundreds of hours sparring with La Motta and even fought in 3 real boxing matches.
This kind of preparation is not strictly necessary for method acting as the Method teaches actors to use memories of experiences they already have. This means that you can produce an authentic performance based on a scenario you have never encountered by working out its emotional core and relating this to experiences that brought out similar emotions in yourself.
However, if you can more directly experience situations similar to the ones you are being asked to simulate, this can add an extra layer of verisimilitude. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, even if you can’t match the exact circumstances your character will be going through, you can still work out what emotions they are likely to be feeling and then look at what experiences you can seek out to stimulate the same ones.
No room for ego
People often remark that Robert De Niro is surprisingly humble for such a successful actor and many consider him to be quite shy. He once said:
“I’ve never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on whether I was to be an actor or a personality.”
This lack of ego is crucial to the method actor. Great acting involves truly becoming someone else and to do that you have to be willing to sacrifice your own ego. You can’t be thinking about whether you will look foolish or cast yourself in an unflattering light. You have to totally commit to the character and do what is right for them, not been constrained by your own self-image.
Putting your ego aside is also crucial for working effectively with the rest of the cast and crew on a production. De Niro is clear that acting is about being open to what others have to say:
“As an actor, it is important to be a good listener. You need to listen to what others have to say, the director, the producer, your co-actor… everyone. I try to listen to everyone and take their inputs on what I have to do.”
De Niro also offers really good advice about getting into acting for the right reasons:
“Don’t expect to be famous – do it because you really love doing it and have fun doing it.”
Learn method acting like Robert De Niro
If you aspire to be a truly great actor like Robert De Niro, you have to study method acting. The Method has been used by 80% of Oscar-winning actors this century and offers an unrivalled ability to bring emotional truth and an enviable level of professionalism to every role you play.
We offer both 3-Day Method Acting Boot Camps for those wanting to explore the world of method acting and a comprehensive 1-Year Ultimate Acting Programme. This year-long course of study covers everything needed to become a professional actor, including a full understanding of the Method and a practical insight into the business of acting, giving you the skills to start getting paid acting work right away.
To find out more, please take a look around the rest of the website and, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Born in 1901 to Jewish parents in what is now the Ukraine, Lee Strasberg’s family could not have guessed he would one day become the father of method acting in America.
He and the still-renowned schools he taught at are famous for coaching the “rebel heroes” of cinema to their greatest heights: James Dean, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Marilyn Monroe – the list goes on. These actors seethe with life – each character they inhabit is vulnerable, raw, and also powerful.
Tennessee Williams, who wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, said of the actors who came out of Strasberg’s intense tutelage:
“They act from the inside out… They give you a sense of life.”
One of Strasberg’s favourite students, director Elia Kazan, described the classes as similarly emotive:
“Actors often appeared to be in a state of self-hypnosis”.
Born to Teach
Strasberg discovered early on that training actors was his calling. He knew that he wasn’t cut out to be an actor himself: he was small, and not traditionally handsome by any measure (acting has been a vain profession for a long, long time!).
It was in 1929, while involved with community theatre, that he first saw the power an actor could wield. Our favourite, Konstantin Stanislavski, had brought his Moscow Art Theatre to the United States. The young Strasberg was blown away by their performance:
“…an ensemble like this with actors completely surrendering their ego to the work…. Some sort of unspoken, yet palpable, inner life”.
It was seeing Stanislavski’s System in action that inspired him to refine it and eventually develop the American Method; or, one of the best ways to win an Academy Award.
The American Method
Strasberg’s famous students demonstrated for the first time in film the psychology of their characters. Usually, this was the place of academics of theatre performers; Strasberg believed there was no reason theatre and film should be any different, at least not when it came to acting.
Acting, he said, “is the art that is closest to reality”. By this, he meant that the best way to create the art was to emulate reality; to be realistic. That’s why his Method’s techniques focus so heavily on genuine emotional and physical recreation of characters’ lives.
“If you don’t know what it is you’re trying to create, you will never in your life create it.”
Although the Method can come across as scientific and specific, it is actually more like a set of processes that an actor can apply creatively and dynamically to enhance their portrayal of a character.
At its core, the Method is meant to produce “psychological truthfulness”. To truly become a great actor, one must be simultaneously immersed in one’s own prehistory as well as that of one’s character. Simply knowing lines, Strasberg insists, is not acting.
“The only thing you will know is to remember your lines. That is not acting… Acting has nothing to do with memory. It has to do with how we do, how we behave.”
How you do and behave are, however, guided by memory; although not the same one that remembers lines.
Affective and Sense Memories are two key Method techniques. An actor uses them to better empathise with their character, by using memories of their own past. Although Stanislavski proposed these as part of the actor’s toolbox, it was Strasberg who developed them: he believed an actor must unlock their own emotion in order to understand their characters’.
Strasberg’s classes, Kazan has said, were based initially on arousing anger in the actor. The student, he explained, had to be aware of their own emotional resources before they could draw from them.
This resource awareness became a catchphrase in the classes: “take a minute!” Strasberg would yell this at the beginning of each scene, reminding his students to take time to concentrate inwardly, on the details of their characters’ and their own emotional experiences.
These techniques are often referred to as ways to “relive,” rather than “recall” – it’s more important to be in the moment and vulnerable than dwelling on your own issues. Your memory is a tool to be used as needed, not a one-way ticket to acting greatness.
Are You Ready?
Brian Timoney Acting can set you on the path to acting greatness. As the only drama school in the UK that’s built on the Lee Strasberg Method, we’re breaking new ground and hoping you will, too.
If you’re ready to be the next Brando or Fonda, consider our Ultimate Acting Programme.
Understanding ‘The Method’ – The History of Method Acting
Many modern-day movies that we watch boast outstanding performances by method actors. In fact, the technique of method acting has been utilised by 80% of Oscar-winners in the ‘Best Actor’ category since the turn of the century. However, it is far from a new trend; method acting has been around in one form or another for a very long time. We thought it would be good to take a look at the history of method acting so that we can better understand its origins.
The idea of acting and theatre began in Ancient Greece. It was customary at that time for generations to pass on mythical stories by word of mouth to their children. This tradition gradually became a communal sharing and retelling of those stories. Eventually during the 6th century BC, festivals which celebrated the god Dionysus began to include performances which resembled acting. Towards the end of this century, plays adopted more of a formal style and were written down but at the time only male actors were allowed to take part in them.
As the years went by, Greek productions began to fall into one of three categories – those that were satyr, comedies or tragedies. Due to the vast size and nature of the open-air theatres, actors were forced to use a largely exaggerated style of acting which held its emphasis in vocal projection and the overstated movements of the body.
When the Roman Empire took over from the Greeks, they also enjoyed the grand spectacle of the theatre. The Romans also added musical scores to plays but phased out the traditional Greek chorus. However, once Rome fell, acting ground to a halt for centuries during the Dark Ages. Performances were very much limited to religious morality plays.
A revival in the interest of acting took place during the Italian Renaissance of the 16th Century when a form of theatre known as ‘Commedia dell’arte’ was born. This style of acting focussed on the wearing of theatrical masks and presented the art of improvisation. Typically, these improvised characters would fall into various groups: Zanni were the servants, Vecchi were the masters or elders and Innamorati were the lovers. Actresses were also welcomed to the profession.
Commedia dell’arte was hugely popular and had an enormous influence on European theatre. Each country would take different aspects of the art form and adapt it into a method of acting that pleased their own native audiences. For instance, France held passion for the improvised ‘harlequin’ character whilst the works of England’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, were hugely inspired by the Italian movement.
The Emergence Of Stanislavski
By the late 19th century, a noble gentlemen called Konstantin Sergeyevich Alexeyev was growing up in one of the richest families in Russia. He was drawn towards the profession of acting, as his family had built a large theatre on their home estate. Whilst it was absolutely acceptable to enjoy watching theatre performances, it was completely taboo for a man of his birth to be involved in acting itself. Actors across Europe, but particularly in Russia hailed from an incredibly low social class which was the equivalent to a serf. However, Konstantin Alexeyev displayed sheer determination towards wanting to become a part of the theatre. He adopted a stage name of Konstantin Stanislavski which kept his performances and activities secret from his family.
Throughout his childhood, Stanislavski had kept a series of notebooks within which he would make detailed notes about performance styles, critique and self-analysis. It was popular at the time for actors to adopt a certain predetermined set of poses in order to suggest certain emotions or events that were taking place on stage. Stanislavski was opposed to this rigid style of acting and preferred to ‘live the part’. He set himself experiments where he would be disguised as a gypsy or a tramp and walk around in character. This was the starting point of his interest in method acting. The emergence of Stanislavski was an important landmark in the history of method acting.
The Birth Of The System
In 1909 Stanislavski produced the first draft of his ‘System’ of method acting. It was based upon years of research of performances by actors who he had great admiration for, playwrights such as Anton Chekhov and his teachings at the Moscow Arts Theatre.
Stanislavski was particularly interested in the psychology behind acting and its influence on creating realistic characters on stage. He studied the work of a French psychologist named Theodule Ribot who had come up with a concept named ‘Affective Memory’. The notion behind this concept is that an actor should recall a relevant emotional experience from their own life and then use it to summon up feelings which are associated with the event. These intense emotions can then be brought into the character that the actor is portraying. The result is a realistic performance that allows the audience to connect with the character on a deep level.
Stanislavski was also interested in the behaviour of actors before they took to the stage. He discovered that those who had prepared emotionally by relaxing into the part were more likely to deliver an outstanding performance in comparison to those who frantically buried their heads in their scripts to learn lines at the last minute.
The works of Stanislavski inspired a countless number of students. Many used the ‘System’ as a foundation from which to develop their own acting techniques. Notable examples include the Stella Adler and Meisner philosophies as well as Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting approach.
Strasberg’s Method Acting
Lee Strasberg was an American actor who grew up in the Ukraine before moving to the US. He set up the Group Theatre before becoming the director of the Actor’s Studio in New York. Whilst many acting approaches touch upon the idea of method acting, it is Strasberg who is considered to be the godfather of this effective technique and he is critical to any discussion on the history of method acting. He taught some of the most famous actors of our time including the likes of Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Marilyn Monroe and Dustin Hoffman. As the interest in film and TV productions has increased over the past few decades, method acting has allowed actors to command the screen under intense scrutiny from the cameras. As Al Pacino famously put it –
“The camera can film my face but until it captures my soul you don’t have a movie.”
Sadly Strasberg passed away in 1982 but his work and influence lives on and many actors have turned towards using method acting in their own careers. The technique allows them to use a proven process in order to create intricate characters and summon up emotion on demand.
If you’d like to join thousands of other successful actors in learning this technique, then why not consider applying to join our Ultimate Acting Programme. It is a one year, part-time course that will teach you challenging method acting, vocal and physical training. You will learn techniques for auditions and rehearsals as well as delivering excellent performances on stage or set. Students will be given access to top Hollywood and UK casting directors and will be coached on surviving the business of acting. If you’re serious about entering the top 5% of the acting profession, then apply for this exclusive course today.
An ancient saying, and the first thing on the list of our Ultimate Acting Rules. To know yourself is to have a deep understanding of who you are, not a vague list of likes and dislikes. You should know the psychology behind why you like and do certain things. Once you know this, you know which buttons to push to get the most out of your performances. Secondary to this is knowing others: if you can understand the types of people and actors your scene partners are, you can work together to make the whole performance greater than the sum of its parts.
We believe that part of “knowing ourselves” is being able to learn and grow as a person. We like our students to be true to their core self, but willing to push themselves and develop as people.
A great actor will develop quickly. To help you get a head start on your career, we’ve explained three types of approach to acting: risk-taking, method, and hobbyist.
The Risk-Taking Actor
He who dares, wins.
Daring, risk-taking performances are those that risk you being ridiculed, or failing. You will fail sometimes; no-one is infallible. They say the greater the risk, the greater the reward – and this is particularly true in a creative career, like acting.
Taking risks helps you to stand out from the crowd, for better or worse; and in your early acting career being memorable is one of the most important things you can do.
Risk-taking also shows a desire to further than just memorising lines. You’re creating an interpretation and showing casting directors that you’re a creative – someone who will help enhance their work, not just parrot it.
The Method Actor
We talk a lot about the method here, and that’s because we swear by it. When over 80% of Oscar winners are method actors, you know there’s something to it. If you study with us, you will learn how to use the method in your acting; but can you use the method to forward your career?
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
This saying speaks of tackling your aspirations in a way very like method acting: it says to actively become what you want to be instead of waiting for it to happen to you. When it comes to auditioning, there’s no better advice. Directors and casting agents look for actors who are prepared to commit themselves to a role, so turning up “dressed for the job” is a good sign that you’re the best choice.
Dressing for the job at an audition doesn’t necessarily mean turning up in character; that could be overkill. However, turning up with subtle allusions to the part you’re auditioning for will help them envision you in the role.
For example, Andrew Lincoln – the lead actor on The Walking Dead – wasn’t exactly a household name. When he went to audition for the now-famous role of Rick Grimes, a hardened leader of rag-tag survivors, he’d been coping with the birth of his second child. He naturally looked haggard, and was brusque. He got the part. He might have method acted his way to success by accident, but it was the method all the same.
The Hobbyist Actor
Not everyone who acts is able or willing to turn it into a career. Although my students are committed to acting as a career, there are plenty of people out there – you might be one – to whom acting is a passion and a pleasure, and who don’t want to go through the hard years of trying to earn a living off it before that big break.
As a hobbyist, you’re best off pursuing independent projects or joining community theatre groups. You could even do voice acting or advertising on the side of a full-time job.
In terms of a career, hobbyist acting can be a great choice. Not only are you improving your public speaking skills and charisma, but you’re also forming a network of other hobbyists from all kinds of fields. All that different life experience in one theatre is sure to help you develop an affective memory, and make you a local star!
If you’re currently a hobbyist actor and considering becoming a professional, you may have to re-brand yourself.
So Who Are You?
The best actors are also experts on human nature. When trying to decide what type of actor you are, you should first learn what kind of person you are. One tried and true way of doing this is by discovering your Jungian archetype. Carl Jung’s famous archetypes can not only help you understand your character, but also yourself. Try this quiz to figure out who you are.
If you’re passionate about the method or consider yourself a risk-taker, why not see what we can offer you?
Method actors have won over 80% of ‘Best Actor’ Academy Awards in the last decade.
Method acting is often looked upon as an extreme and mysterious way to improve an actor’s performance, but when it comes down to the bottom-line box office figures and academy awards, it’s hard to argue with its obvious benefits.
From Joaquin Phoenix to Meryl Streep, some of the world’s most respected and celebrated performers follow the Method and find great success as a result. To illustrate this point, we’ve put together some of the most revealing method acting facts and statistics…
Method Acting Facts, Figures and Awards
1. The Academy agrees
Method actors have won over 80% of ‘Best Actor’ Academy Awards in the last decade. With The Method being a technique that allows you to feel true inspiration at will, it has worked its magic on the big screen, leading to a whole lot of prestigious Academy Awards. It is a fact that The Method helps to create real, in depth, believable characters, and over 100 actors have won Oscars by following it.
2. The success of Daniel Day Lewis
One of the craft’s most cherished sons, Daniel Day Lewis is arguably one of the most successful actors in the world, and is widely known to be a method actor. He has won three Academy Awards for ‘Best Actor’: the only actor ever to do so in that category, most recently for Lincoln. Putting his success down to his meticulous preparation, using the method, he inhibits the role, and refuses to break character on set. Having reportedly tattooed himself in preparation for The Crucible, trained for a year and a half to portray Danny Flynn in The Boxer, and contracted pneumonia after refusing to wear anything but historically accurate coats on the set of Gangs of New York, his dedication to his profession is extreme yet inspiring, and it shines through in his performances.
3. The Pianist
Roman Polanski’s The Pianist was made on a $35m budget and starred Adrien Brody as a Polish- Jewish pianist during World War Two, based on the memoirs of Władysław Szpilman. It made a budget quadrupling $120.1m at the box office, and currently holds a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the best to be released in 2002. Many critics hailed the performance of Brody as particularly impressive and he won a ‘Best Actor’ Academy Award for his efforts, at 29 the youngest ever to do so. He achieved such a feat by taking heavily from the Method. He practiced piano for four hours every day, moved to Europe with few belongings in preparation and lost 30 pounds of weight to more accurately portray his starving character. He described his experience as fulfilling, and expressed that suffering in such a way allowed him to ‘find a greater connection to the material’, allowing him to be honest in his performance. The result is a powerful film that was both a great commercial and critical success.
4. Kate Winslet’s first Oscar
Kate Winslet had already been acting for quite some time when in 2008 she won the part of Hanna Schmitz in The Reader. The story of an illiterate woman and ex-Nazi told through the eyes of her 15-year-old lover, it is an extremely poignant film, with particularly impressive performances. Having taken from The Method to bring the character of Hanna to life, Winslet found it very difficult to return to regular life, saying in an interview: “It’s like I’ve escaped from a serious car accident and need to understand what has just happened.” It reportedly took her two months to feel back to normal, after connecting so deeply with her troubled character. The film made $108m at the box office, and Winslet won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress.
5. The Most Harrowing Joker
It is impossible to talk about the effectiveness of Method acting without mentioning Heath Ledger, and his career defining performance as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Now considered one of the best superhero movies of all time, audiences were captivated by Ledger’s terrifying Joker, and the transformation he underwent to portray the character. The Method was key to helping Ledger to craft his performance, and his preparation for the role was immense. From his erratic diary that he kept as he isolated himself and built up his emotional connection to the character, to the reports that he refused to break character on set and ran on two hours sleep a night, his commitment was unwavering, and the result is a performance so seamless, it is difficult to fault it.
6. It’s as popular today as it’s ever been
Method acting has been a technique in use in Hollywood since Stanislavski and Strasberg were around, throughout the Golden Age, and all the way up to the modern day, and it isn’t showing any signs of disappearing. It allows actors to create career defining characters, and many benefit hugely from the natural performance they can give due to the techniques that it offers them. And while some actors, such as Edward Norton and Christian Bale are ‘Method Actors’ and commit 100% to the technique, others find success by taking inspiration or aspects from the Method, such as Anne Hathaway did, when she famously had her hair cut for real on the set of Les Miserables, (a role for which she was also awarded an Oscar).
Though it continues to be misunderstood and shrouded in relative secrecy, ‘The Method’ has helped actors take their skills to the next level for decades, and will certainly do so in the future. Want to find out more about ‘The Method’ yourself? Why not apply for our 3 day Method Acting Bootcamp?
Many of the most well-known actors in the 21st century use ‘The Method’ in order to create outstanding and memorable performances.
Only about one or two per cent of the acting industry actually use Method acting but if you look at who’s in that group, it’s usually all the top creative actors in Hollywood. – Brian Timoney
Method acting is a technique that is used to draw upon life experiences and channel them through the part that you’re playing. Typically an actor will carry out various Method processes before, during and after being on-set or stage in order to really become aligned with the role. The result is a superior style of performance that creates in-depth and believable characters and produces electric chemistry between cast members.
Controversy Surrounding The Method
The Method has not been without its fair share of criticism and scepticism over the years. Even though the Method has been responsible for some of the greatest acting of our time, it is sometimes portreyed as being unnecessary or even dangerous.
Some co-stars may become irritated by a method actor’s refusal to break character between takes. Will Smith who is in the upcoming movie ‘Suicide Squad’ recently gave an interview about his method actor co-star Jared Leto who is hugely in-demand at the moment.
I’ve never actually met Jared Leto. We worked together for 6 months and we’ve never exchanged a word outside of ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’ We’ve never said ‘Hello’ or ‘Good day.’ I’ve only ever spoken to him with me as Deadshot and him as The Joker. I literally have not met him yet. Not a single word exchanged off-camera. He was all in on the Joker.
Here is Leto talking about the role:
Similarly, three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis is known to take his method acting to an extremely intense level in order to get to grips with the characters that he has played. He is thought not to have broken character for three months whilst filming ‘Lincoln’. He even insisted that the cast, crew and director Steven Spielberg address him as ‘Mr President’. Perhaps he went one step too far when signing off text messages with “Yours A”. Critics have pointed out that Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been able to send a text message in the 1860s!
The commitment and devotion that method actors display towards honing their craft can be hard for co-stars, friends and family to understand but it does create some truly fine performances that audiences all over the world can be thankful for.
Taking It Too Far
Of course, there are also well-publicised cases of method actors who have gone too far. Perhaps the most famous in recent times is the late Heath Ledger who became obsessed with his role of the Joker. He is thought to have locked himself in his apartment for up to a month before filming and could only manage a couple of hours sleep per night because he was so absorbed in the character. Unfortunately, Ledger overdosed on prescription drugs before the film was released and many believe that the role was too much of a mental challenge for him.
Yet even with the controversy that surrounds the Method, it is still the most successful acting technique that is practised at the moment. This is because method acting really works!
Does method acting work? Well, over 80% of Oscar winner ‘Best Actor’ awards have been won by method actors. This amounts to over 100 method actors who have taken home this prestigious award. This is far from coincidence and is down to the sheer perseverance and dedication that method actors apply to their work. Method acting is not a gimmick nor a simple trick of the trade. It requires a great deal of discipline and training in order to reach the level of quality performance that audiences expect from Oscar winners.
The Method requires an actor to build the inner life of a character. The technique is not just about trotting out some memorised lines, but involves awareness of a character’s ongoing thoughts, perceptions, emotional responses and sensations. In order to be comfortable doing this, an actor must first be able to master their instrument, which is their own self. By training an actor’s personal senses, it is then possible to combine those feelings with the character and event that are being portrayed.
Method Relaxation To Conquer Stage Fright
The Method requires total relaxation before a performance. This is critical to the success of an Oscar-nominated method actor such as Bradley Cooper. In advance of playing the role of Chris Kyle in ‘American Sniper’, Cooper noted down all of his dreams for a week –
It’s a way to prepare, to relax, to open up.
Stage fright is also a concern for many actors. Laurence Olivier famously said, “This is what it must be like to give birth”, whilst Stephen Fry told the Guardian that stage fright was like dying. It can certainly become crippling for some and threatens to entirely overwhelm the skill of an actor. These nerves essentially stem from a fear of getting it wrong – this is because the actor is concentrating on their own needs rather than the feelings of the character. Practising specialist Method relaxation techniques before a performance will ensure that your mind is occupied only with what is important in the mind of the character, rather than being preoccupied by your own ego.
Perhaps one of the aspects of the Method which is at the very heart of its success is the use of affective memory. This is the ability to recall and use a strong emotional experience from your past in order to recreate a specific emotion on-demand in a scene. It is an extremely effective technique to help actors find a parallel between their own lives and the character arc of the role they are playing. Christopher Walken remembered the feelings of abandonment and betrayal that he had experienced as a child during an unpleasant summer camp trip. He used those negative and frightening memories to play the shocking Russian Roulette scene in ‘Deer Hunter’ for which he won the Best Supporting Actor award at the Oscars in 1978.
Free Your Mind And Body
Method acting also works with actors by allowing them to free up various parts of their physical or mental being in order to become more expressive. Vocal exercises are carried out during method training to develop good diction and learn how to project the voice effectively. Actors who possess a natural accent can learn how to reduce it whilst developing other accents that are essential for a role.
Physical acting is also vital for creating an engaging performance. Movement training will teach method actors how to use their entire body, rather than just their head. One of the ways that method actors have a magnetic stage presence is by using animal exercises throughout their performances. This works by visualising the physical and psychological characteristics of a certain animal and then applying them to your role.
It may be surprising to audiences that animal exercises are not confined to shows such as ‘Cats’. Robert de Niro studied the movement of a crab to offer a unique angle to his portrayal of Travis Bickle in the 1976 movie ‘Taxi Driver’. He felt that the character of Bickle was shifty and indirect. Similarly Marlon Brando mimicked an ape for the role of Stanley Kowalski in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ whilst Dustin Hoffman acted like a weasel with a limp to play Ratso in ‘Midnight Cowboy’.
Method acting has many benefits to offer working actors of today. Aside from the wonderful performances that are promised as a result of following this incredible style of acting, the technique is also a useful toolbox for actors to dip into throughout their career. From gaining inspiration for a character, to the more mundane tasks such as learning lines, the Method offers clear processes through which to support an actor along their journey into character. Actors will become alive during their performances and will be able to summon self-awareness without then tipping into the unwelcome ground of self-consciousness.
Of course, many of the exercises associated with the Method are extremely powerful. Reliving past traumatic experiences through the use of affective memory for instance, can cause some deeply painful emotions to be uncovered. Therefore we consider it to be unwise to practice certain aspects of the Method without undergoing specialist training. Rather than dabbling in the Method to decide if it’s for you, it would be far safer and more effective to practise some of these exercises in the secure environment of a Method acting class.
Our Introduction to Method Acting Boot Camp is a 3 day intensive programme and is the perfect way to discover if you have the drive and determination to kick start your method acting career. You will become completely immersed in the Method during this short course. Want to know more? Apply for our next bootcamp which takes place in Central London from the 15th-17th July.
All I can say is that I wish that I had known about this course before I started three years of drama school because I spent a lot of time and a lot of money over those three years, and I’ve just learnt so much more in one year on the Ultimate Acting Programme.’’ – Moya Allen, Hitchin (Past Student)
Drama school is an essential foundation for your career as an actor. Professional courses are designed to give you physical, mental and vocal training for a lifelong career in acting. However, what is rarely touched upon is learning the ‘business’ of acting.
- What is it like trying to get hired as an actor?
- Do you need an agent?
- How do you deal with rejection?
These types of questions are not usually covered extensively during drama school training, yet are common issues that all actors face at some point during their careers.
The business of acting does not just rely on delivering impressive performances in front of the camera or on the stage. Real-life actors must put in the work outside of auditions and shows to ensure that they have regular work and are able to build up a solid CV.
If you have recently left drama school and are in the early stages of your career with little acting experience, then this is a great opportunity to dedicate some time to establishing your own personal brand. Build your own website to create an online presence as an actor. In the future when a casting director searches for your name they will be presented with your personal domain. Instead of scrawling through various social media profiles to collect information about you, they will see your headshot, CV, showreel, reviews, blog articles and all the information that they need to be interested enough to invite you for an audition.
As well as having your own site, you should also try to build connections with people, both online and in real life. Connect with acquaintances from drama school as well as actors, directors and producers and begin to share and communicate with them about your passion for the acting business.
Headshots And Showreels
Casting directors and talent agencies love actors who have an impressive headshot. This is simply a close-up photo of an actor from the chest up. It should be taken by a professional as it is an actor’s main marketing tool. Looks are important when it comes to casting, as often a director will already have a vision in mind of what they want a particular character to look like.
It is also important to have a professional company cut a showreel together of around 2-5 different scenes from your performance portfolio.
“For every successful actor or actress, there are countless numbers who don’t make it. The name of the game is rejection. You go to an audition and you’re told you’re too tall or you’re too Irish or your nose is not quite right. You’re rejected for your education, you’re rejected for this or that and it’s really tough.” – Liam Neeson
Newcomers to the acting world can find rejection hard to stomach. Yet it is something that all actors must deal with, so it is important to toughen up and realise that each rejection can teach you something about the business of acting. Work on building your inner confidence. This will serve you well, not just throughout your career behind the scenes, but also during your performances.
Getting An Agent
Many actors are stumped by the catch-22 of how to get a job without an agent, yet are unable to get an agent without any professional acting work. There are a number of things to do in this frustrating situation. Start by reaching out to small, local agencies who are more likely to be interested in signing young, raw talent with little experience than some of the larger well-known agencies. Always find out the name of a specific agent within the agency so that your contact is targeted and more likely to draw interest. Don’t contact an agency until you have a solid CV drafted with a personalised cover letter and are able to include professional head-shots and a showreel.
You should also attempt to supply recommendations from existing actors to help you get noticed. If at all possible, make connections with actors who are already signed to the agency and ask if they would be willing to recommend you. Always follow up your initial contact with the agency to see if they have reviewed your resume and ask if they have any feedback to offer. A reputable agency will never ask for money upfront, so don’t fall victim to any scams.
Continue Your Studies
Graduating from drama school is an excellent achievement. However, this certainly does not signal the end of your acting studies. Those who are serious about carving a career for themselves in the acting world must continue to soak up as much information about being a professional actor as possible. This means reading about the business of acting, marketing, talent agents and the acting industry in various key cities around the world such as London, New York and LA. It is also important to become as knowledgeable as possible about various different acting techniques, this includes method acting. This discipline is a process-driven approach which enables you to draw upon real emotion while on stage or set and become a much better actor as a result. Method acting is rarely taught in drama schools yet is responsible for some of the most iconic performances of all time. Those who fail to learn ‘The Method’ are missing out on valuable tools and techniques to enhance their acting abilities.
If you’d like to learn more about method acting as well as the business of acting, then why not get in touch? Apply for a sought-after place on either our 3-day bootcamp which is perfect for those with little or no acting experience, or alternatively audition for the Ultimate Acting Programme which is a 1 year, part-time comprehensive course and career launch into the industry. Want to know more? Apply for a brochure today.
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” – Meryl Streep
For aspiring film actors, winning an Academy Award (more commonly known as an ‘Oscar’) is the ultimate accolade. It shows that you are capable of performing at a level few other actors are able to achieve and is the ultimate seal of approval from the film industry. But what makes an Oscar-winning actor? What skills do they have in common that makes them first among their peers? Well, for many of them, it comes down to their familiarity with ‘The Method’.
Over 80% of Best Actor Academy Awards this century have been won by method actors who use The Method to take their performance skills to a level beyond what most non-method actors can achieve. There are many aspects to mastering The Method, but there are several key characteristics that we see time and time again in Oscar-winning method actors that are well worth emulating on your road to success.
Over 80% of Best Actor Academy Awards this century have been won by method actors
Dedication to character
Method actors will often go to great lengths to create an authentic performance. In preparation for his Oscar-nominated leading role in Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro actually worked as a cab driver, reportedly putting in 12-hour shifts driving fares around New York City to get into character.
Another common technique is to look to the animal kingdom for inspiration. Many followers of The Method base their physical approach to a role on different animals to give their characters unique and arresting ways of moving. For Taxi Driver De Niro based his performance on a crab as he felt his character was indirect and tended to shift from side to side. As Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando imitated an ape, while Dustin Hoffman referenced a weasel in Midnight Cowboy. Method Acting training includes specific classes focusing on animal work to help actors master this important dramatic tool.
Using genuine emotions
Affective memory is a technique method actors learn, which allows them to tap into their own memories to create real emotional responses during a performance. This is achieved by working out the emotion they need to portray and then using experiences in their own life that triggered similar feelings in order to produce a genuine emotional response that recreates those feelings.
To do this, actors need to really know themselves, their own psyche, and how to explore this for dramatic effect. Learning to be a method actor involves learning to better know yourself and your own emotions and how to use your life experiences to create truly raw, engaging performances.
Tapping into their own life experiences
Of course, most actors will be called upon to act in scenes that have no direct analogue in their own lives. The trick is to understand how to successfully relate the emotions you need to convey with a relevant experience in your own life, even if the connection is not immediately obvious.
When filming the famous Russian Roulette scene for the film Deer Hunter, Christopher Walken said he was recalling being sent to summer camp by his parents, which he hated. He was able to use those feelings of being betrayed, ostracised, and alone to inform his performance in a totally different scenario because it required the same feelings from his character.
All of this focus on emotions might make it sound like method actors are likely to be volatile or in danger of going out of control at the drop of a curtain. In fact, successful method acting requires serious self-discipline. Learning The Method involves a great deal of time, effort and concentration in order to be able to call up the right emotions at the right moment. Through this learning process, method actors become truly in control of themselves and their emotions in a way most regular actors will never achieve, giving them an advantage both as performers and in their overall work ethic.
Willingness to sacrifice their ego
Actors can have a reputation for being egotistical, but the truly great performers don’t worry about how they are perceived, only about the best way to play their characters with absolute truth. To lose yourself in a character like this, you have to be willing to put aside your own ego, no longer thinking about yourself and your self-image, but focusing purely on becoming your character.
Robert De Niro offers another great example here, with the extreme physical transformation he underwent for his role in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear. De Niro completely changed his appearance, including building an impressively muscular physique, covering himself in tattoos and even having a dentist grind down his teeth. This level of dedication to really becoming his character resulted in an incredible performance that shows just what a dedicated method actor can achieve with the right training and attitude.
Are you ready to unlock your hidden acting potential? Register your interest in one of our industry-leading method acting classes today and find out how to make your ambitions of a rewarding professional acting career a reality. We are always happy to hear from prospective students, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.