Ashton Kutcher Shares Insiders’ Secrets

May 22, 2015

Ashton Kutcher has always gotten a kick out of revealing the unseen human nature of celebrities in his hidden camera, practical joke series, Punk’d. But when he won the Teen Choice Awards’ Ultimate Choice Award, he surprised the teenage fans by exposing something about himself: that he felt like a fraud, and admitting his first name is actually Chris–that he only switched to using his middle name, Ashton, when he started pursuing acting at the age of 19. Although Kutcher is not necessarily known for his powerful cinematic performances, what followed at the awards event was a heartfelt and insightful motivational speech. And even though it was given in 2013, his words of encouragement to aspiring hearts bear repeating. He lists three basic keys to help a person create a quality life. Ashton himself has managed to navigate a career in the entertainment industry starting as a successful model in the late 1990’s, moving to acting with That 70’s Show, and then branching out to several popular roles in both TV and film as well as working as a producer.

“In Hollywood, in the industry there’s stuff we do. There’s a lot of like insiders’ secrets to keeping your career going, and a lot of insiders’ secrets to making things tick,” Ashton asserts. Then he goes on to share some of the “really amazing things” he learned when he was Chris. “And I wanted to share those things with you guys because I think it’s helped me be here today.” He then lists three approaches to life that he credits for his success, starting with making the most of opportunities. “I believe opportunity looks a lot like hard work…And I’ve never had a job in my life than I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job.” He also has some ideas about what makes someone sexy (being really smart, thoughtful, and generous). And he shares some basic ideas about how you can build the life you want. Take a listen, and see if his words speak to you.

Kutcher never seems to stop working; he’s currently filming the upcoming indie The Long Home directed by and starring James Franco to be released in 2017.

Michael Caine’s Screen Acting Tips and Demonstrations

April 16, 2015

It’d be hard to miss Michael Caine; he has appeared in over 115 films, and is one of only three actors who has been nominated for an Oscar at least once in five consecutive decades (the others being Jack Nicholson and Laurence Olivier). And as of 2014, he has appeared in four films–Alfie, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Cider House Rules, and Inception–that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. And heck, in 2000 he was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll in honor of his contributions to cinema. Caine has weathered both his share of flops and great critical successes, and he’s learned a lot along the way.

Here is an hour long class lead by Michael discussing a number of worthwhile tricks of the trade in regards to film acting.

At one point he shares with his students, “Once you’re in front of that camera, nobody exists, nobody, except the other person in the scene. And what we do, we actors who are in the movie, we hang on to each others’ eyes. That ‘s the most important thing in film: Eyes.” Being that eyes are so critical in film acting, he both informs and demonstrates how to most powerfully use your eyes to communicate authority or weakness, and how to draw in audiences more closely.

Caine talks about how small shifts in facial expressions and slowing down your words can make a world of difference on camera. “The camera is like somebody who loves you deeply… because it will love you forever in spite of the fact that for the rest of your career…you ignore it,” as long as you maintain eye contact with your scene partner and listen closely to what he or she is saying.  A theater producer once gave Michael advice that he never forgot. When his character was merely listening to another character’s lines, the producer enlightened him with the enormous potential that the act of listening can hold: “Of course you’ve got things to say. You’ve got wonderful things to say. But you sit there and listen, think of these extraordinary things to say, and then decide not to say them. That’s what you’re doing.”

Ultimately, Caine asserts, “Movie acting is relaxation. It’s easy. If you are knocking yourself out, you’re doing it wrong.”

Michael can be seen currently in the action thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service alongside Sofia Boutella, Samuel L. Jackson, and Colin Firth. And if you’ve got an hour, Michael’s positively reviewed lecture is well worth the time.