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Authenticity of Character in Film

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In Ten Things I hate about you, Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona share a first kiss.

The tension leading up to the moment is palpable. It’s awkward. But as Patrick leans in, the tension all but disappears and is replaced by passion, where Kat pushes away, as she fights with herself.

Like gravity. The two again embrace in passion.

And what we’re left with is a moment in history which transcends time.

Whether your definition of acting is to be a person such as Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, pretending to be the people seen in this alternate reality where two people are truly in love, or your definition of acting is standing in front of a camera, having your moments filmed, there’s something to be learned from this scene which is ripe with emotion.

What is it?

Simple Commitment and Engagement to the moment.

I’m currently watching “I will Follow You Down”, a movie about a married man who leaves his family for a weekend seminar in Boston and never returns.

In ’10 things I hate about you’ – It’s obvious this film isn’t acted and to someone like me – it’s evidence of an alternate reality and universe. But if it is acted – it’s acted so extremely well to make the moment so indistinguishably real that it becomes tough to tell the origin of the film.

In contrast – “I Will Follow You Down” is obviously acted.

Here’s why.

When someone’s been married a while, the initial passion tends to wane and is slowly eroded into a level of comfort that looks much like a friendship to some degree.

Everything changes about the relationship. Sex. Romance.

This isn’t a bad thing. It is what it simply is.

As many relationships mature. They tend to overlook extramarital affairs. They tend to not even discuss them. There’s no assumption they’re happening. But there’s no assumption they are not happening either.

And it’s all because the butterflies of the initial kiss, and awkwardness of the first moments of intimacy are wonderful to experience, but the comfort one feels with an established relationship where you know you get along and you know you can endure each other’s good side and bad side – is in a form priceless.

So as actors Gillian Anderson and Rufus Seawell have utterly failed to present a believable presence on the screen.

Put specifically, in ten seconds, there’s a kiss the two share.

It’s a first kiss. That’s utterly obvious. He’s clearly nervous with the way he’s acting, and it’s not the nervousness of a husband that’s about to leave his wife, it’s the nervousness of a man who is kissing a movie star and he doesn’t know how to commit to his character. And she – is devoid of all emotion.

And unfortunately, in these ten seconds, the movie lost me and my active engagement.

So now. I regard it as a story that I’m listening to. It’s not an alternate reality. It’s a screen with two actors who are pretending to be people they aren’t, all because they took absolutely no time to get to know the character they’re pretending to be.

Every character has a history.

And even when we’re pretending to be someone we’re not in real life.

What brings authenticity to this character isn’t just understanding that history.

It’s emotionally relating to the character we’re trying to portray, and keeping that active in our minds as we portray that character.

There’s something really bothering me about the state of the film industry in regards to sex, nudity, and the portrayal of intimacy and passion in film – and that’s simple inauthenticity – a lack of genuineness in character.

For instance, the vast majority of adult film produced right now has highly predictable elements to it.

A bedroom. A man. A woman. It starts with a blowjob and the woman eyeing the man adoringly. The man then engages the woman and goes down on her. Sometimes these two switch places. From there it moves to intercourse. And then. The cumshot, aimed squarely in her face. With rare exception.

But to be clear. It’s those RARE exceptions which are making me think…

Hollywood needs to learn from this…..

So take a look at Hollywood productions. And it gets even worse. Actors that dont like eachother. Fake sex scenes that make everyone in the audience uncomfortable because they’re so fake.

If I made major feature films and there was a sex scene, the FIRST requirement I would have with my actors engaged in the sex scene would be this: YOU WILL HAVE SEX and WILL ACT LIKE YOU ENJOY IT.

I wouldn’t care if you were Scarlett Johansson and Kevin Spacey. I might intentionally pair you up together just to make the awkwardness of the first moments even that much more entertaining, and should you sign up for a movie I created, you bet your ass you’d be having sex with eachother and every moment from every angle would be filmed.

There’s a reason for this:

Sex. Isn’t always comfortable. Intimacy. Isn’t always perfect. Coupling and Romance. IS often about differences. And while I know society would LOVE to make me wrong for this, I know I’m right.

So – that PG-13 movie featuring Jessica Alba and your truly (just because I could) would still retain it’s PG-13 rating.  That rated R movie featuring Brad Pitt and Queen Latifah. Would feature real sex.

Now you – as a movie goer would know that all the sex was real and unsimulated, and while the scenes themselves would appear roughly the same as the scenes you see now, you would know it’s all real.

Even though you saw nothing.

As an actor, to me, acting is a commitment of the body and mind to play a role.

And as the adult industry depicts the same stuff over and over again.

It’s my belief that Hollywood. Has a responsibility to the American public to depict sexuality, intimacy, nudity, and the ‘in the moment’ passion in different lights, from different creative angles.

For instance.

New places. New Locations. Variations for intimacy and relationships.

And REALISM.

Stories about a wife who brings home other women for her man. Stories about a couple that make out at a bar and have sex on the street in front of the bar.

You see. It’s one thing to depict the same ole act for real.

But it’s entirely another to toss it up. To introduce deviances and possibilities.

There’s a guy in Russia who bought a box truck and put one way see through plastic panels on it so you can see out from inside and not in – and he drives around picking up random women to then pay them to have sex inside the truck as it drives around the busy town. The ‘inside view’ is traffic and people all around, and meanwhile this guy’s utterly explicit with the women he’s with.

Another guy in the Czech Republic pays women to walk around nude throughout Eastern Europe. He’s got a web site devoted to it so where very attractive women walk pretty much everywhere – busy city streets, shopping malls, concerts, diners and restaurants, bars and nightclubs, etc. I actually ran into the guy in Romania as he was filming in a three very attractive nude women who had spent the evening there and left their clothes at the hostel as they walked everywhere.

Stories. In my opinion. Depicting humans and the male and female form. Need to vary.

I’d like to tell a tale of an alternate reality version of Star Trek where clothes were abandoned because of their high energy cost to keep and maintain on a starship, and resultingly, sex itself has evolved to serve a utility function, so emotionless and clinical sex scenes would look utterly foreign and weird compared to the current state of the adult industry.

But even then. Without going that far.

It’s my belief that actors need to actually BE their characters.

For instance… I’m Q. A man I’d like to play on screen who I’m already playing off screen. And the life I’ve led HAS been science fiction, weird at times, and highly emotional.

But I believe highly paid actors.

Who make millions of dollars a year.

Should be just as good at maintaining their image off screen DESPITE what they do on screen.

In “The Wolf of Wall Street” – Leonardo DiCaprio sniffed cocaine out of the ass of a prostitute in a scene that’s hard to consider ‘not real’.

Now. If he did indeed sniff real cocaine and not baking soda off this girl’s ass,

AND. It was all real.

I give the guy. AND the movie makers. ALL mad kudos for doing this.

This is exactly what I’m talking about.

Committing to a scene.

I couldn’t watch sex tape.

Why?

I knew it would be Cameron Diaz acting all demure in something she herself didn’t participate in and/or believe in.

Now. If Cameron Diaz agreed to a Sex Tape 2. And the sex was real.

She’d have a blockbuster on her hands.

Authenticity. Commit to a role. Live that role. Be that character.

And you won’t be able to help but reap the rewards from it.

And in real life. If people can’t believe you did what you did on the screen. Even though you did.

Let them believe whatever they want to if that gets them through their day.

There’s absolutely no reason you have to be that person you depicted on the screen.

Unless, of course, you want to be.


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