Top Actors Describe What They Believe Makes a Good Actor

October 28, 2016

Being an exceptional actor takes a whole lot of skill level, dedication, experience, and sacrifice. Add to that, the mysterious “it” quality that great actors always seem to possess. But what do actors, from their unique perspective, say is important to cultivate what it takes to become a truly great actor? Although the required personal qualities or habits could fill countless books, here are a few examples of what actors have mentioned among their various interviews over the years.

Set a clear goal to become a great actor

Gary Oldman: “Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.”

Pierce Brosnan: “The word ‘star’ doesn’t mean an awful lot to me. ‘Good actor’ and having the respect of one’s peers means more.”

Tom Sizemore: “I didn’t come to Hollywood to drink or get high, and I don’t want to be considered a cool actor–I want to be a great actor.”

 

Take Risks

Lena Olin: “To be a good actor, you have to be very smart. But to be a great actor, you also have to have a streak of, ‘I’m an idiot, a complete lunatic.'”

Nicolas Cage: “To be a good actor you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules to strive for something new.”

 

Stay Open to Life

Lane Garrison: “To be a good actor you have to feel life and observe life.”

Sarah Bernhardt: “He who is incapable of feeling strong passions, of being shaken by anger, of living in every sense of the word, will never be a good actor.”

Peter Berg: “You know to me, being a good actor, the most important quality is you’ve got to love to play, and to just be open to anything.”

 

Be on the outlook for opportunity

Denzel Washington: “Black or white good parts are hard to come by. A good actor with a good opportunity has a shot; without the opportunity it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

Bryan Cranston: “When you’re an actor in grade school, high school, college, whatever, you start to realize what you’re really good at, what you’re kinda good at, what you’re okay at, and you start to compartmentalize. But if you know yourself and what you’re capable of, it’s just a matter of opportunity.”

Kristin Stewart: “I really, specifically, love acting, and I think it’s a really cool thing to be really indulgent and follow that. I have a lot of ambitions in life, but for the next few years, I just want to be an actor. That’s a lucky opportunity, and that drives me to want to be good at that.”

 

Keep acting in perspective

Gary Busey: “There has got to be more to life than being a really, really, ridiculously good actor.”

Katherine Heigl: “If I spread myself too thin, I’m not a good actor, I’m not a good mother, and I’m just really high-strung–and everybody hates me.”

Shia LaBeouf: “If people perceive you as a good actor then they’ll wish for you to be a good actor and they’ll root for you when they watch you. But if you come out and you’re going to clubs every night, people don’t root for you anymore.”

James Dean: “Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done.”

Daniel Radcliffe: “There’s no blueprint for where I should be. I see myself as a young, good actor who still has a lot to learn. There’s nobody at any point in their career who is the finished article.”

Anna Faris: “Blythe Danner is somebody whose career I admire. She’s a great actress and does good work, but also has a life of her own. I love my job but, at the end of the day, I want to come home and watch a movie and drink a bottle of wine with my husband.”

 

A Dose of Ego

Robert Redford: “I had just arrived in New York from California. I was nineteen years old and excited beyond belief. I was an art student and an acting student and behaved as most young actors did–meaning that there was no such thing as a good actor, ’cause you yourself hadn’t shown up yet.”

Jean Anouilh: “A good actor must never be in love with anyone but himself.”

Sibel Kekilli: “Acting for me is like a ping-pong game. That’s the secret of acting. When you have a really good actor, I always want to be as good as he is or she is.”

What personal qualities or habits do you feel are critical for actors to have in order to become great actors?

Joy from an Actor’s Perspective

December 20, 2015

We hope you’re having a joyous holiday season! As the dictionary states, joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” But what exactly is joy from an actor’s perspective? Here are a few quotes from a variety of actors who give us a glimpse as to how this highly sought emotion comes into play in their lives and careers.

“The joy of acting for me is to be able to experience emotions in a safe environment. You can’t scream and cry in the street because everybody will look. If you do it on a movie set, you get applauded.” — The Social Network actor, Jesse Eisenberg

“If you’re not having a good time, find something else that gives you some joy in life.” —Laverne and Shirley actress, and director, Penny Marshall

“Whatever it is that I feel, I express it! I am free with my joy, my laughter, my pleasure, my pain, and I am blessed in that way as an actress that I can access those feelings within myself and not be ashamed to show whatever that is that’s appropriate for the character. ” — For Colored Girls actress, Kimberly Elise

“Things never go the way you expect them to. That’s both the joy and frustration in life. I’m finding as I get older that I don’t mind, though. It’s the surprises that tickle me the most, the things you don’t see coming.” —Boardwalk Empire actor, Michael Stuhlbarg

Meryl Streep says developing the capacity for empathy had given her the ability to “feel the exquisite living pleasure of transmitting [a character’s] feelings to an audience. It’s an actor’s singular joy.”

“Musical theater is great; you get painted up, you get to play princesses and witches, and you sing. The joy alone of that can really carry a lot.” —Into the Woods actor, Chris Pine

“Life is a series of punches. It presents a lot of challenges. It presents a lot of hardship, but the people that are able to take those punches and able to move forward are the ones that really do have a lot of success and have a lot of joy in their life, and have a lot of stories to tell too.” –country music singer and actor, Josh Turner

“People in day-to-day life tend to skim the surface of things and be polite and careful, and that’s not the language I speak. I like talking about feelings, fears, and memories, anguish and joy, and I find it in music.” –Scottish songwriter and actress, Shirley Manson

“People see me laughing and telling jokes, but they had no idea after the show was over, I had no joy in my life, in my heart.” –comedian, television host, actor, Stever Harvey

“The thing that I’ve learned is that there really is no joy, and nothing ever good is going to come from negativity. Those are thoughts that, even if you were presenting an honest version of yourself, there’s just no point in sharing.” –Canadian actor, Stephen Amell

“My mother is a big believer in being responsible for your own happiness. She always talked about finding joy in small moments and insisted that we stop and take in the beauty of an ordinary day. When I stop the car to make my kids really see a sunset, I hear my mother’s voice and smile.” –Jennifer Garner

“When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.” —Tootsie actress, Teri Garr

“My motto is: Enjoy your life.” –Jack Nicholson

“I’m no expert. I have no psychic powers, and I sure don’t possess any secret wisdom. I’m just Janet. I have strengths, weaknesses, fears, happiness, sadness. I experience joy and I experience pain. I’m highly emotional. I’m very vulnerable.” –singer and actress, Janet Jackson

“Make sure that you always follow your heart and your gut, and let yourself be who you want to be, and who you know you are. And don’t let anyone steal your joy.” –Broadway actor, and voice of Kristoff in Frozen, Jonathan Groff

Tell us about the joy that acting has brought to your life!