Actors have a lot to balance in their pursuit of finding worthwhile roles. They’re told how critical it is to “Be confident,” when auditioning or meeting agents and casting professionals; but then again, they’re told how important it is to “Remain humble” as this will sustain them for years during the arduous auditioning process which is based on a system of rejection; and all the while they’re told to have charisma–you know, that “It” factor–which can be described as the fruit of a healthy ego. But, oh yeah, watch out for that ego because actors with big egos can be a problem on set–and arrogance isn’t a welcome sight in the audition room.

Every actor has to forge a unique path as he or she seeks the right personal balance of confidence, ego, and humility. Here are some actors who share their insights or struggles with these three important aspects of themselves while developing a career as an actor.


“I learned early on as an actor that confidence can be faked, and it’s not always a terrible thing to do. A lot of times if people feel you’re confident, then they’re confident.” –George Clooney

“I think naturally, if you’re an actor, there’s a high level of assertiveness that you need to have to survive this business. There’s boldness in being assertive, and there’s strength and confidence.” –Bryan Cranston

“The big gap between the ability of actors is confidence.” –Kathleen Turner

“I lack confidence as an actor.” –Charles Durning

“I think with actors, if you just don’t set about trying to crush their confidence immediately, you’re usually okay.” –John Malkovich

“I don’t possess a lot of self-confidence. I’m an actor so I simply act confident every time I hit the stage.” –Arsenio Hall

“There’s a confidence that comes from youth and not knowing better. But there comes a point, as an actor, when you do know better, and that is when the fear starts.” –Kiefer Sutherland

“American actors are all muscular, tanned, white teeth, and they have this indestructible confidence. We British are all…dare I say it? Pessimistic.” –Max Irons


“I’m in the acting business. That’s the ego business.” –Betty White

“I have to tell you, you can’t have an ego when you’re an actor. A lot of actors have them, but in reality most of those people are just sensitive artists dying for a hug and a compliment.” –Josh Brolin

“When someone bestows something on you, no matter how true it is, when someone says, ‘Sexiest Man Alive,’ I’m honestly going, ‘Thank you. Right on.’ For me, it’s never canceled out anything, it’s never made me go, ‘Does this make me less talented of an actor?'” –Matthew McConaughey

“Actors are a lot like professors on dissertation committees–it’s a lot of ego, a lot of rallying for position, there is a lot at stake in every single interaction.” –Mayim Bialik

“Actors have these delicate appendages called Egos.” –Maynard James Keenan

“When actors give their input, it can be very ego-driven, and directors are scared of that.” –Michael Pitt

“An actor is totally vulnerable. His total personality is exposed to critical judgment–his intellect, his bearing, his diction, his whole appearance. In short, his ego.” –Alec Guinness

“I want to be respected as an actor. There’s my ego. But I don’t have a great need to be liked by an audience.” –Eddie Marsan

“As an actor, I’m always critical watching others; it’s just the nature of the beast. For me, any performance that doesn’t cause my ego to say, ‘I can’t do that’ really signifies that it’s spectacular.” –David Alan Basche

“If directors, actors, and writers have the ability to drop their alpha-male egos, you will always get better work. In terms of my own demands, I actually want fewer lines. If I can lose a line and do it with my face, I’d rather do that.” –Max Beesley


“An actor should always let humility outweigh ambition.” –Anna Kendrick

“If you catch me saying ‘I am a serious actor,’ I beg you to slap me.” –Johnny Depp

“What I do quite honestly and seriously and not in any way being humble is not as important as what the garbage collector does. People make actors important.” –James Caan

“But I’m not a tough guy or a street fighter for real. I’m just an actor.” –Channing Tatum

“If you want to be an actor, you should keep confident. Don’t get too much of an ego and become not humble. But you should have esteem and not feel bad when you don’t book something. So I think you should just stay humble, but you also need to have some esteem to make yourself keep going.” –Nolan Gould

“As an actor, you get humbled all the time. Everyone is a critic.” –Joe Regalbuto

So, it would seem that an actor must absolutely strike a delicate balance of confidence, ego, and humility in pursuing the craft. However, that balance is different with each individual thespian. Your instincts as well as feedback from friends and industry professionals will light the way as to how much is too much and how much is too little when it concerns the perfect constellation of the the three. And as you grow your skills and experience, the balancing game might need a little adjusting.

How do you adjust and maintain a healthy balance of ego, confidence, and humility?