Don’t Be An Acting Idiot

BY CHARIS JOY JACKSON

I love acting. I love watching T.V. and movies. I love watching great actors. But I HATE watching actors – even great ones – make idiotic choices.

 

Please, for the love of God, if you’re an actor don’t be an idiot.

 

So how do you avoid being an idiot? Well here are a few things to avoid at all costs.

 

Don’t Pull a Gilmore Girl – Coffee Cups

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If you’re given an empty cup that’s supposed to be full of coffee, treat it like a full cup of coffee. I love Gilmore Girls, but this is something that seriously irritates me about the show. Every time they’re carrying a cup of supposedly full coffee, they throw it around as if it’s an empty cup, which it is, but the viewer shouldn’t feel like it’s an empty cup.

 

If it’s got a lid, ask the prop assistant to fill it with water for you. It’s an easy solve. If for some reason this is unavailable to you, then get out your mime skills (even if you don’t have any) and treat the cup right.

 

Imagine… there’s steaming liquid brimming right at the top of the cup. You don’t want that getting all over you! You’re gonna hold that cup carefully.

 

Don’t Advertise Deadpan – Line Reading

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Look, I get it, commercials have a lot of words and so using a prompter is often the easiest way to go. With that being said, man alive it bugs me to see an actor’s eyes scan the camera while they talk. All I can think is, “Oh, great, another line reading.”

 

Do your best to memorize the lines. Then you only have to pick out a key word on the prompter to know what you’re supposed to say next.

 

Make sure to add the product name as one of your key words, other than that, find what works for you. I always go for feeling words because they tell me where I should go with the sentence.

 

Don’t Be Happy As A Fool – Fake Laugh

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Oh my goodness. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE don’t pull a fake laugh. For all that is good and holy, I beg of you. It’s one of the easiest things to spot. Even people who don’t have a clue about acting can tell when a person is fake laughing and it makes us all cringe.

 

Try this. Get a bunch of your friends together and sit in a circle. Then start to laugh. Even if it’s fake, let it out. I guarantee within the next minute, your entire group will be laughing for real. Store this silly and ridiculous memory and use it on set.

 

Do yourself a favor and laugh. Really laugh. If you’ve got to fake it off camera until you actually laugh, do it. I don’t care how at this point, just make it happen. Please.

 

Don’t Overreact, Treat the Kid Right – Working With Kids

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There are so many times I’ve watched a film, where the kid has done something slightly unexpected especially if they’re really little. It’s great to have in a scene, but what ruins it is when the actor doesn’t know what to do with it. They do the awkward laugh and try to look off screen to see if they should keep going.

 

Be the kind that rolls with it. Expect the unexpected with kiddos. Act natural, pull out your motherly or fatherly instincts. If you can’t find those, then go back to your high school drama geek days and improv the crummies out of the scene.

 

Don’t Hate The Cat, Hold The Cat Like A Cat Lover – Working With Animals

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I’ve said this bit for the non-cat lovers, but it goes for non-dog lovers too. For those of us who love animals, we can tell when an actor is holding an animal wrong. I think the worst part about this is that the animal knows you’re uncomfortable and so they wiggle all the more to be free.

 

If you can, approach the animal trainer on set and ask if you can get acquainted with said animal. They need to get to know you and be comfortable around you, just as much as you need to learn how to hold them.

 

When in doubt ask the animal lovers in your life how they hold their pet and then use that for the scene. I can’t tell you how much relief I have when an actor treats the animal with the love a real owner would.

 

When in doubt do your research and don’t overlook the small stuff, that’s when people notice the most!
I hope you’ve taken away some vital lessons from this piece. I look forward to watching all the things now to watch excellent actors and not idiots.

 

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