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Adventures In Acting - Rest!

Updated: Jul 4

This month's collection of acting-related thoughts and feelings:

 

Afghan Girl
Japanese snow monkey resting in the hot springs. A study has shown that Japanese macaques' stress levels go down when they bathe in hot springs.
 

"Worrying is like paying a debt you don't owe."


Mark Twain - Writer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"


 

Rest - In Acting:


Actors without a job are either “between jobs” or “resting”!


But are they actually resting?


Aren’t we anxiously awaiting the next opportunity to act again and within a month doubting our own ability to ever “perform” again?


To spend this (hopefully rather short) period of time worrying about what may be in our future seems to be the opposite of "resting".


So what does it mean to "Rest":


“To cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength."

Or

“To be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.”


Maybe this sounds terrifying to you?

To "cease work" or to "stay in a specified position".

After all, we "creative types" like to think that we are either working or growing (both together's rather satisfying too!) so to relax might appear to be a waste of time, right?


Some poets and philosophers disagree:


"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." - Ovid


"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." - Zen Proverb


"There's nothing like a good massage to melt that tension!" - Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) Friends.


SO...


How do we know what is restful for us?

Are we supposed to schedule it in to our day/week/month/life?

How much is too much rest?


It's so uniquely personal isn't it?

Discovering your own personal "off" mode is like finding your favourite ice cream flavour. Try a bunch of all the best methods that people talk about (exercise, being in nature, reading, healthy hobbies, yoga/breathe work etc) and see what makes you go "Mmmmm"!


It probably is smart to pencil in downtime like it’s a VIP event in your planner and make sure that you do get to be a human being and not just an actor "doing" 24/7.


Also remember, while a little "laziness" is luscious, too much might make you lose the will to do anything at all.


Listen to your inner kind/nurturing voice and find that sweet spot between rest and play!


Like Martha says:


"Rest until you feel like playing, then play until you feel like resting, period.

Never do anything else." - Martha Beck


So chill yer boots!

Put your feet up!

Take time out!

Wind down a bit!

Take it easy on yourself!

Go in to go out!


Stay rested,

& Stay Playful People!


 

We can work it out:


I have been working with actors on a 1-2-1 basis now for about 5 years and have been loving the progress that can be made with the extra attention that can be paid over a longer period of time with a unique and tailored plan in place.


To get a better idea of the kind of support i can offer with your acting journey please email: Connect@tomsawyeractor.co.uk


 

What's my motivation?


This month's scene is from the Oscar winning Prequel/Sequel to "The Godfather", "The Godfather Part II"


Chosen by the Creative Director, Film and Media Producer and Distributor at LST Studios Philip West.


Philip West is a prolific film maker known for Halloween Jack 3D (2022), Uncut (2009) and Babe Camp (2023).


See Philip's IMDB profile here

Other links to Philip's work:


Philip says about the scene:


"One of my all time favourite performances in a scene by Al Pacino and John Cazale, from The Godfather part 2.


The setting with the sound of the shifting waters.

The blocking levels, Fredo , slumped on a lean back chair revealing his vulnerability and weakness, while his younger brother Michael stands holding status, barely looking at him, controlled, cold.


Fredo, helplessly yelling in pain and desperation as he wants respect and acknowledgement. A simple head move as he rests his head back realising it's all worthless now.

The hurt from both brothers, it's a powerful scene and a precursor to something that Michael knows will haunt him for the rest of his life."


Some context on the scene:

Michael (played by Al Pacino) now the head of the Corleone family, suspects that Fredo (played by John Cazale) has betrayed him by aligning with rival gangsters, including Hyman Roth, who seek to undermine Michael's business interests in Cuba. The tension between the brothers has been building throughout the film, exacerbated by Fredo's perceived incompetence and Michael's growing paranoia and ruthlessness.


Click on the video link below and then check my short interpretation underneath:





Rarely are sequels or "part 2"'s as good or better than the original and this film might be one of those rare gems that actually achieve that honour.


These two acting heavyweights slug it out in this scene, it's so good!

It just has that sense of heightened reality and intensity that keeps you on tender hooks, not wanting to blink.


So here at Adventures in Acting we always give our main actors a nickname, yet how do we shorten "Al" and "John"?

Well, we will pretend that these incredible actors are globe trotting USA basketball players and call them A-Pac and J-Caz ok?!, cool!


I will continue to pause and admire the work of A-Pac and J-Caz as we journey through this scene together as I honestly believe there is some subtle things in this short scene that really separate the good from the great acting.


Firstly notice how intimate it feels from the very beginning, so private is this moment that we feel we shouldn't be watching.

Also the very observable skill that is evident in this scene for me is their ability to hold such high stakes and deep feelings whilst seeming so composed on the surface.


This ability to master the contrast of big feelings with zero noticeable force is why I believe it is essential for the actor to train at the extreme ends of feeling and expression, to attempt to do "too much" and also "nothing/not enough" seems so integral to find this parameter of believable behaviour on both stage and screen.


There are signs that things are brewing here.

My favourite "tell" is when A-Pac slowly turns away as J-Caz raises his voice indicating he doesn't want to see his brother get upset but has to be the bad guy here.


We see how shocked J-Caz is at his own rage pouring out of him. The sheer volume and velocity of his voice and movements are kept in check by an almost apologetic, blinking and shrinking back into the chair.


Then there is the wonderfully awkward direction of keeping J-Caz in the very reclined lazy chair which reads as so uncomfortable given how irate he gets.

In a classroom, these actors would be nose to nose maybe, but this space and physical restriction gives the dynamics between the two an even more pronounced inequality.


A poignant moment is when J-Caz visibly gives in, gives up the fight and gives out the crucial info which reveals how much he has messed up.

It is then we see A-Pac swallow down his disappointment and muster the courage to coldly deliver the most shocking of speeches, maybe the most awful thing that a sibling can say to another sibling "You're nothing to me now, You are not a brother or a friend" OUCH!


Unfortunately we lost John Cazale to lung cancer in 1978 but some of our finest actors still talk about him in such high regard to this day.

Here is a very moving clip of Al Pacino explaining how he learnt more from John than anyone else here.

In this next kinda cheesy clip it highlights how Meryl Streep (John's partner at the end of his life) coped with the loss of her first love here.

Phillip Seymour-Hoffman calls John "Inspirational" and says his acting raised everyones game by being so "Uncomfortably vulnerable" here


I remember hearing on in interview somewhere that J-Caz would casually drop lines of his dialogue into conversations with fellow actors making them question if they were supposed to be running lines or chatting.

For me this was his genius way to blur the line between acting and reality for him and his cast mates; to make the end product as natural as possible however heightened the circumstances of the scene.


Rest In Play J-Caz!


Keep it Playful people!

 

Have a short scene you want to see analysed simply?

Click below to send link to scene:



 

Any acting related news or questions email me:


Thanks for your attention - stay playful people.


Tom


 

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