Sunday, 17 April 2011

Inside the Actors Studio

You know what, I absolutely hate this time of year in terms of film releases. There is literally nothing on right now that I would like to see/spend money on. Literally. Which is really sad, because I am in a great need of a distraction, revising my poor brain out and all. So, instead, I am going to write about procrastination. We all hate it and love it. And I think that when this supposedly useless time is spent on something a bit more meaningful, it can be quite beneficial. Take Inside the Actors Studio videos, which you can find on Youtube, for example. In my opinion, they are the best and most insightful interviews with actors and filmmakers out there.

Inside the Actors Studio started off in conjunction with the Actors Studio at New School University as a television seminar for young actors, lead by the then president, Paul Newman in 1994. James Lipton, actor, poet and writer, presents it. He deliberately chooses a slow pace for the interviews, steering the guests in the right direction with occasional questions and remarks, but mainly leaves them to their own devices, which lets the guests speak freely and openly.

In the last 17 years the show had over 250 guests, all very respected talents, some of them are sadly no longer with us. The set-up is always the same; Lipton asks the guest questions about his or her childhood and parents, their breakthrough moment and some of their career highlights. If they had a formal training in dancing or singing, he asks them to perform right there and then - the results are often pretty impressive. Then they have to answer Bernard Pivot’s famous questionnaire:

1.     What is your favourite word?
2.     What is your least favourite word?
3.     What turns you on?
4.     What turns you off?
5.     What sound or noise do you love?
6.     What sound or noise do you hate?
7.     What is your favourite curse word?
8.     What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9.     What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Some of the answers are surprising and hilarious. After this part is done, Lipton leaves the stage and the students ask the guest a series of questions. Here, I always have to wonder if any of them actually make it in the business. The only person from the audience I ever recognised was the young Bradley Cooper. That’s it in a nutshell.

My favourite guests were:

Natalie Portman.

The video was recorded before her big Black Swan moment, but it is very interesting nevertheless. I also kind of fell in love with her, she is extremely smart, charming, beautiful and down-to-earth.

Ian McKellen.

This eloquent and talented Shakespearean actor turns out to be very humble, funny and a pleasure to listen to.

Jim Carrey.

Although I am not the biggest fan of his films, this interview changed my opinion of him. He makes a great stand-up comedian. So much raw talent!

Kevin Spacey.

A bit of a weird guy but his impersonations are dead-on.

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