Criticism, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is, “The act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.” Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Handleable. However, criticism can be a sticky wicket–so much so that both Jennifer Lawrence and Adam Sandler do their level best to avoid their own movie reviews. In a sit-down for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Lawrence and Sandler agree that negative reviews are just not worth the headache, nor the heartache.

Indeed, Jennifer says, “It’s not healthy. I’m not going to do it because if I read it, I start getting defensive.” Speaking of her widely panned horror-thriller film mother!, and her relationship with the film’s director, Darren Aronofsky, Jennifer says, “Dating the director was different because we’d be on the tour together. I’d come back to the hotel, and the last thing I want to talk about or think about is a movie. He comes back from the tour, and that’s all he wants to talk about. I get it; it’s his baby. He wrote it; he conceived it; he directed it. I was doing double duty trying to be a supportive partner while also being like, ‘Can I please–for the love of God–not think about ‘mother!’ for one second?'” 

For his part, Adam Sandler seems absolutely horrified by negative reviews. “When I did Billy Madison, I read some [bad reviews], and they hated it. I was like, ‘Whoa. What the hell is happening, man?’ I thought they were going to be right with me.”

The interesting thing about criticism is that, in one sense, it’s necessary. How can anyone improve if they are not challenged by insightful commentary and seasoned deconstruction? If you’re not willing to take an honest look at your shortcomings and failings, how will you know how to improve? And how will you know how you’re being perceived? On the other hand, if an actor is constantly trying to please and impress his or her audience or critics, it might be tough to be in the moment; to fully commit to the character or characters being portrayed. In fact, commenting on reading negative reviews with Lawrence, Sandler confessed, “It screwed up my thinking a little bit.” Negative reviews, as well as positive ones, tend to stoke up the ego and give the impression that it is all about the actor rather than the role. This can be an enormous distraction–not to mention a trip down a very dark road.

In any event, it’s hard not to be heartened by positive reviews and crushed by negative ones. But at the end of the day, whether you read the reviews or ignore them altogether, it’s all about focusing on the craft and pouring yourself into your characters. Giving it one hundred percent, moving forward, and trusting in the process.

How about you? How do you choose to handle feedback and, specifically, negative reviews? 




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