Jon Favreau recently stated in an interview that he didn’t have to learn much about cooking for his film Chef because he loves cooking in real life. However, for the Iron Man movies he needed to read books filled with technical jargon for guns and computers to ensure that he and all the other actors kept it as believable as possible.
Stephen King almost threw out his first book Carrie because he found it silly to write about a teenage girl when he was the exact opposite of that. His wife eventually encouraged him to finish the novel, and thank God for that.
Hollywood teaches writers many lessons, but the most important of them all is that the best writers are actors at heart. Many writers are introverts who would never dare step in front of a camera or on stage, but in order to reach into the mind of other characters you have to act out their lives in your head.
How do the best writers use acting to their advantage?
Your Time is Limited
Actors have a short lifespan. One day you’re walking the red carpet and the next day you’re booked into rehab. Although you can argue that when writers hit it big they tend to keep rolling, this isn’t the case for most of us. You write and write and write, but how much of it is true to yourself?
Chances are you’ll end up writing one or two great articles or books that you can honestly look back and smile at. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that you don’t put your all into everything you create, but it’s rare for people to unload the insecurities or realities of their lives into their writing. It’s rare to connect with everyone in your audience with all of your art.
You write for the love of it, but your time on this earth is limited, so you can’t possibly put everything in your mind to paper. Even so, this gives writers motivation to put love and passion into all their work. It could be your last piece, or it could be the only one that gains any traction. I personally think that everything I write is pure gold. The truth is, some of my work sticks, while most of it flops. I still put my heart into each line I create, because maybe, just maybe it’ll touch someone. And when I’m done with that line I can say that I believed in it. If I get hit by a truck after that I’m content with myself.
Some of the Best Actors Fly Under the Radar
Look at Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman or Emma Stone. They are all considered pretty damn good actors and actresses, but they don’t receive many awards or even nominations. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t exactly fly under the radar, but he puts in the effort and provides great work without gaining the awards like other similar actors.
The truth is, although you see loads of celebrities on commercials and billboards, most actors don’t get much recognition. In fact, most of them are quite poor. The same goes for writers. Writing isn’t about awards or fame or money. Jeff Goins is a testament to that. He claims that he started picking up steam on his blog when he simply started writing for himself. He forgot about his readers and critics to learn about what he truly wanted to share with the world.
Method Actors Consume Themselves in Character
Daniel Day-Lewis is known for staying in character for the extent of a shoot. He even lived separately from his wife during the shooting of The Ballad of Jack and Rose in order to connect with the character’s isolated life. He also claims that he was a nightmare to live and work with while shooting Gangs of New York.
Commitment like this comes with a price, but when you transcend the idea of simply learning about a character you can actually become that character. This way, the people in your stories reach realism no one can imagine.
Let me know in the comments section below if you see yourself as an actor when you write.