THINKING, FEELING, HOPING: LA FILM FEST’S ACTORS COFFEE TALK
Here’s the last of our guest blogger dispatches from the 2012 LA Film Fest. This one’s for all the actors in the (virtual) house, brought to you by guest blogger Pamela Ezell:
Actors Illeana Douglas (Grace of my Heart, Ghost World, To Die For), Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures, The Informant!, Win Win) and Jason Issacs (Lucias Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, The Green Zone, The Patriot) sat down to talk about their craft – even though Issacs said, “I find it very uncomfortable, talking about the craft of acting.”
Issacs was the moderator, and he started the questions with, “Tell us how you got into acting.”
“I was loose and nuts,” said Douglas. “No, seriously, I grew up in a theatrical family.” (Douglas’s grandfather was actor Melvyn Douglas.)
“I was painfully shy,” said Lynskey, “but once I found the courage to audition for a school play,” she was hooked. Lynskey’s first film was 1994’s Heavenly Creatures, when she was 15, and she’s never had another job but acting.
Growing up, Douglas did a lot of musical theatre. “Then I went to drama school at the Neighborhood Playhouse and relearned how to do everything.”
Issacs asked both actors to describe their technique, if they could. Douglas talked about her training with Sanford Meisner. “It’s listening and answering in the moment, not anticipating the next moment. I try not to suppress what’s actually happening.”
On Auditions & Techniques
Lynskey said she doesn’t have a technique, but she creates a playlist of her character’s songs to listen to. “It’s also a good way to stop people talking to you. I sit with my headphones on on set.” She does “work with a teacher on creative dream work,” which helps her “access the unconscious.”
What about secrets to a successful audition? “I make a strong, crazy, big choice in the first two sentences,” said Douglas. “I also take an incredibly long time before I start. I wait until there’s an uncomfortable silence, then I start.”
Issacs said it was important to “be off book, but carry the script, otherwise it implies you haven’t got another gear.”
Lynskey, who admitted her New Zealand accent sometimes makes people nervous, even though she may use an American accent in audition itself, often makes tapes at home.
On Favorites, Glass Ceilings & Branching Out
When asked about their favorite jobs, Lynskey said hers was The Informant!, because “Steven Soderbergh is my absolute favorite person I’ve ever worked with.” Douglas said her favorite was Grace of My Heart because, since she was a producer on the film, she could cast John Turturro, whom she really wanted to work with. Issacs chose his year performing parts I and II of Angels in America at the National Theatre in London, co-starring Daniel Craig, because “it was the best writing I’ve ever been around.”
On the question of how to deal with the lack of good parts for women, Douglas answered, “I write and produce.” Among other projects, for the past four years, Douglas has written, directed and produced the web-based series Easy to Assemble. Lynskey continues to pursue roles she cares about, regardless of the size of the budget. “The last time I made more than scale was 2005.”
Issacs has moved into the producer category too with his recent television series, Awake. Despite that show’s cancellation, he and his family will continue to live in Los Angeles.
There were many more questions, but time ran out, so almost the entire group reconvened in the lobby to continue talking and taking pictures. It was a funny, honest Coffee Talk and the actor-panelists were candid as well as generous.
—by Pamela Ezell for Film Independent
Check out highlights from this event:
July 10th, 2012 • No Comments