Actors Who Are Introverts

May 18, 2012


When you think of Steve Martin, do you think wild and crazy guy? That’s the epitome of an extrovert, right? Well, not quite. Steve Martin is actually an introvert. And so are Glenn Close, Helen Hunt, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Noah Wyle, Julia Roberts, and Gwyneth Paltrow among others. How is it possible for an actor to be an introvert when, after all, his or her career is to “ham it up” in front of audiences?

Let’s first define what extroverts and introverts are. Extroverts are people who become energized in response to the presence of other people, and their energy tends to fade when they’re alone. A classic extrovert would prefer to talk with others instead of independently sit and think—especially because they’re known to think best when conversing. Their ease of making small talk makes them appear more socially adept.

Introverts, on the other hand, come most alive and feel most capable when they’re alone exploring their thoughts and feelings; being around the stimulation of other people expends this energy. This does not mean they are shy. Shyness is characterized by fear of social judgment. While introverts may or may not have good social skills, they will likely need to recharge their energy level by being alone after spending time with others–even those whose company they enjoy.

Although introverts make up 25-40% of the population, they often experience a general bias in our Western society which favors the more outgoing, bold, assertive style that extroverts exemplify over their quiet, introspective nature.

At first glance, the act of performing roles appears to be more about socializing, seeking attention, and being invigorated by the presence of the audience–qualities one would expect from an extrovert. However, quality acting requires a deep understanding of a character’s emotions as well as valuable introspection of one’s own complexities to convincingly pull off roles.

Both introverts and extroverts bring their own particular strengths and power to any given role. So, whether you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or anything in between, embrace your own style. Resist the notion that one style is any better than the other, and invest in your authenticity.

Susan Cain, a former corporate lawyer as well as an introvert, points out many ways modern society pushes introverts to abandon their natural style. Click here to hear her inspiring talk celebrating introverts and encouraging them to embrace their personal style and create positive change in the world.