Figures of Light: Actors and Directors Illuminate the Art of Film Acting

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Plenum Press, Jan 1, 1995 - Performing Arts - 387 pages
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It is a rare and remarkable book that provides a forum for actors to discuss, in their own words, their experiences, their craft, and the creative process that makes and informs a brilliant performance. This book of original interviews is just such a treasure. Tommy Lee Jones, Richard Dreyfuss, Aidan Quinn, Mary Steenburgen, Christine Lahti, Sydney Pollack, Lawrence Kasdan, John Sayles, and others - an impressive list of intellectual and articulate actors and directors - were interviewed for this book by Carole Zucker. Through these fascinating conversations, Zucker, a respected professor of cinema studies, explores the process by which talented actors and directors mold ideas and scripts into the living, breathing, and unforgettable characters that profoundly move and inspire us. Zucker explores the process by which these actors developed the skills needed for success. What drew them to acting? How did they train? What unique experiences did they have while rehearsing and shooting a film? She also asks questions of a broader nature. What emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual resources within themselves do these actors draw upon to enact an interpretation? What makes a great performance? What is the role of the actor in our society? This exceptional collection of honest and open discussions reveals a rich variety of backgrounds and training, and an even greater range of approaches to the craft of acting. In preparing for a role, some actors feel, as Lindsay Crouse, that "Most of what is required is inside me". Others rely on extensive research, the construction of elaborate character sketches, or, like Richard Dreyfuss, a deceptively simple, instinctual "mental image". Asfascinating as these differences are, a common thread emerges as well. As Zucker illuminates, each actor is steadfastly committed to reaching the "truth" of a character. "You're very translucent when you're on film", says Lindsay Crouse, "You are a figure of light; your soul comes through. You can tell, easily, when someone is really doing it or not". This book beautifully goes to the very heart of what makes acting so powerful and engaging. It celebrates the passion and intelligence, dedication and brilliance that fill and, ultimately, transcend the limits of the screen.

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About the author (1995)

Carole Zucker received her doctorate in Cinema Studies from NYU and is Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University. She also teaches acting workshops in Montreal and has written several other books on acting and directing.

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