In part 1 of how to become an actor, we looked at what it takes to go to castings and auditions, and how you can improve your chances of getting a part. What about when you get a role?
Back in the early 90’s, Branfil Junior School decided to put on a grand production of the well-known and much-loved classic, Hiawatha. After grueling auditions and a long period of political bartering, the roles were publicly announced. The teacher read from the hallowed list as I waited with baited breath for my name to be read; but it never was. Dismayed and disillusioned, I approached the teacher hastily:
“Mrs. Bates – There must be a mistake, you missed my name”
‘’Ohh, errrm.. Russell, ermm, Okay you can be Cloud No.3”
“Cloud No.3? But I don’t see that in the script?”
“Yes, Cloud No.3; it’s an extremely important, special role”
“Yes – you just have to stand in the corner and be quiet”
I was the quietest cloud that Branfil ever saw. Needless to say, my dream of an acting career died on the Branfil stage as I waited patiently at one side of the arena. Clouds 1 and 2 lapped up the applause as they pranced around, delighting the excitable audience. I just stood there with a fake smile, covered in glue and cotton wool. I didn’t want to act again.
Fast-forward 20 years and I find myself in the artistic, expressive and flamboyant city of Prague where I am a regular at many theatres. I count many actors and actresses amongst my close friends and my partner is heavily involved in the acting scene. I admire what they do and I wonder if my life might have gone differently if it were not for that unfortunate casting at Branfil.
I have thought lately about going for more castings and trying to get myself into the world of commercials. I have tried a few times already but I didn’t perform anywhere near my best and I was overlooked. I previously spoke to a casting director and she told me what qualities are necessary in order to improve your chances. But what does it take to become an actor? Is it something you either have or don’t have? Does it take years of studying or can you just drop out of your job and start doing it?
I decided to speak to an extremely talented Czech actor, Karel Heřmánek jr, and find out what it means to him be an actor and why he decided to do it:
Who or what inspired you to start acting?
I knew I wanted to become actor since I was a little boy. Mostly because of the fact that I grew up being surrounded by theatre most of the time because of my family – my dad especially who is also an actor. So the decision of becoming one was quite obvious. When we were kids, we also used to do some short films together with my brother and I just totally loved it – creating stories, acting them and bringing our fantasies alive. That really was the thing I always wanted to do.
Can you learn to be an actor, or is it something you either have or don’t have?
I think that everybody has to act from time to time, so all of us are actors in a way. There is a difference between acting for film and for theatre. For a film they expect you to be as natural and true as possible and almost anyone can do it. But when you are on stage, you are being observed, you are in live contact with the audience. As an actor you need to be vulnerable and be open to share your emotions, which is not an easy thing to do. You need to be devoted to it. Even in the time when you don’t feel well you need to leave all your troubles behind you and be ready to work.
What’s the best thing about being an actor?
The freedom to create amazing things. The fun you have when everything starts to work.
And the worst?
The uncertainty of what is going to happen in the future. As an actor you rely on other’s people decisions. You don’t know if there’s going to be any other job for you once you’re done with what you’re doing right now.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start acting?
Be passionate about it and be able to learn new things. Learn how to support others so they can support you next time. It’s always team work so be a team member and never get above yourself. And most of all, have fun!
Here’s what 5 of the best actors in Hollywood said about acting:
MERYL STREEP – “I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.”
JOHN GOODMAN – “Actors are there to entertain people. We’re not up there to feel anything, nobody’s interested. Peter O’Toole told me that when you get the script, you just perform as though you were late for a train. Don’t get caught ‘acting'”
MARLON BRANDO – “Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It’s a bum’s life. The principal benefit acting has afforded me is the money to pay for my psychoanalysis.”
LEONARDO DICAPRIO – “The best thing about acting is that I get to lose myself in another character and actually get paid for it… It’s a great outlet. I’m not really sure who I am – it seems I change every day.”
JODIE FOSTER – “Acting just happens to be my skill, but I think I would probably be just as happy being a technician or entering into the film business in some other way.”
Good luck in your acting career!
If you have any experience in acting and have anything to add, please feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page