Ever hear a director ask you to “go bigger?” What they are saying is that your movements are too small, not dramatic enough. For beginning actors, breaking out of a constrained physical style can be very hard to do. So I ask our actors to consider this…
Americans are generally exposed to three types of acting.
- The most commonly viewed type is probably TV acting.
- The second most common style we see is movie acting, originally filmed for screens that project a face (close-up) over eight feet high.
- The third type of acting American see is probably stage acting. Your local dinner theatre, for instance.
Rush Hour acting is closest to the third type (stage acting), but really over the top. Think of Lucille Ball in the famous grape crushing scene from “I Love Lucy.”
Most beginning actors hold back their physicality. This always looks like a “movie” acting style to me. If you filmed a Rush Hour actor, they would probably come across on screen looking like Jim Carey… big, over the top. A movie camera can pick up micro-expressions on an actor’s face, so less is more when acting for film. Unless you are doing an action or wildly physical comedy film.
Sit-com acting on TV is a mid-range acting style. It’s called acting for the “small screen.” The TV style of acting can be a little bigger, a little more physical. A TV set may have fewer cameras and a weekly production schedule that just won’t allow for take after take with multiple camera angles to get just the perfect shot like a film director can request. So a situation comedy (sit-com) may be shot from further away in a slightly more theatrical style than a movie shoot. With the camera farther away, actors can worry less about staying in the shot, and less about being over-the-top with a physical bit.
BUT! That style is STILL not “big” or “dramatic” enough physically to tell a story from a theatrical stage. The expressions and movements have to be much bigger on stage, because the audience is generally too far away to see the subtlety required for big screen or small screen acting (movies or TV). Imagine trying to flirt with someone who is across the room from you. A movie actress might just look into the strangers eyes and THINK about how much she wants to meet that guy. A TV actress might tilt her head and wink from across the room. A stage actress would probably use her whole body in a coy pose and smile. Taking things even further, for Rush Hour, I would probably ask the actress to wave a hankie in the air, coyly shift from one foot to the other and hollar, “yoooo hooo!”
Here’s another example… The actor reads this in a script: actor reacts to seeing someone cross the room wearing a duck costume.
The big screen (movie) director could simply film a reaction shot of an actors eyes and they watch an imaginary duck-man cross the room. The TV director might shoot the whole face. In Rush Hour, we would ask the actor to stand up, point, and follow the action with their whole body.
These video clips may help explain what I mean. hugs, v-