Chapter 75 – Ambitious Goals
Renly divided the male protagonist, Paul Conroy, from the movie “Buried” into two levels of performance.
The first part is the expression of emotions: fear when he is afraid, panic when he is in danger, despair when he is desperate. This is a typical representation acting technique. Furthermore, the presentation of the same emotion of fear differs in various stages. When Paul just realizes he has been buried alive, when Paul fails to seek help with his phone, when Paul realizes that death is imminent… These delicate and intricate portrayals are a rigorous test for one’s basic skills.
True representation acting techniques emphasizes control. From muscles to the corners of the mouth to the eyes, the whole person is a cohesive unit. The emotions conveyed by each detail’s changes will differ. Perhaps the audience wouldn’t be able to describe it in words at that moment, but after combining the character and the plot, that empathetic emotion will be accurately expressed, making watching the performance an enjoyment.
Alfred Hitchcock once stated that all of his works require the use of representation acting techniques and he refused the use of Method Acting techniques. The reason is simple: for horror, thriller, comedy, and similar genres, the accuracy of emotions is the foremost element.
Although this is a familiar field for Renly, it is still not a simple task because the emotions of Paul in “Buried” are under chaotic fluctuations. The turmoil in the confined space becomes increasingly intense and oppressive as time progresses, like a compressed powder keg. Performing under these circumstances is by no means easy.
Moreover, despite having lived two lifetimes, Renly mostly just knows about acting in theory; he is really lacking in practical experience.
The second part involves character exploration – testing the actor’s understanding of the character and interpretation of the script. This goes beyond the realm of the character alone and encompasses the relationship between the character and society, the background of the story’s creation, the source of the central theme, and so on. This requires the actor to transcend the techniques of acting itself and truly comprehend the character’s image, the era’s backdrop, and the social significance, and then infuse their own understanding into the performance.
In “Buried,” the Iraq War serves as a major backdrop, and the financial crisis caused by the real estate bubble in the United States becomes a hidden subplot. Paul’s decision to accept a job from an Iraqi contractor is not only relevant to him but also connected to society.
For example, when Paul contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), they requested that Paul does not inform the media. The ostensible reason was the concern that the media’s malicious speculation would diminish Paul’s chances of escape. However, the actual reason was the volatile situation in Iraq, where American civilians were continuously being killed. Within the United States, the government was already being condemned due to its involvement in the Iraqi quagmire, and the dire situation of the financial crisis had fueled public grievances. At this moment, the last thing they needed was news of “another civilian casualty.”
Therefore, the attitude of the FBI, Paul’s anger, anxiety, and helplessness all manifested differently. As Renly said, whether Paul is a civilian or a wealthy person, male or female, in the United States or in Iraq – it would all lead to different outcomes. Paul himself was aware of this, and his reactions naturally varied. The details, methods, and content of his performance would all deviate accordingly.
If the representation actors emphasize control, then the proponents of the Method Acting emphasize letting go. They truly abandon themselves and immerse their entire being into the role, blurring the boundaries between themselves and the character, and between reality and fiction. They empathize and display themselves from the perspective of the character. For the audience, their connection with the characters becomes closer, and the impact is palpable.
This is a completely new field for Renly. In his previous life, he spent ten years lying on a sickbed, and before that, he lived a routine and monotonous life. It can be said that all his experiences came from movies. But everyone knows that movies are a form of art and tend to be exaggerated or dramatized to some extent, ultimately differing from reality.
Therefore, in terms of experience, Renly is indeed only “twenty years old.” If he is to try the Method Acting technique, he would need to start from scratch, starting anew with each performance.
Now, however, Renly is about to attempt to combine both styles of acting, exploring a completely new way of performing and giving the character a fresh touch. If someone were to find out about Renly’s idea, they would either curse him as a madman or disdainfully dismiss his overestimation of his own abilities.
Setting aside Renly’s age, “Buried” is going to be only his second work, and his first film. Even his skills in the representation style of acting are far from perfected, yet he intends to merge two different acting styles. That is simply a pipe dream. Even seasoned veterans like Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis would hesitate to attempt something like that, let alone Renly.
However, Renly has no such concerns. Since he has already been reborn once and has decided to continuously challenge the limits of acting, since he has chosen this path, why not go crazy? Moreover, innovation is about breaking out of the box, boldly imagining beyond boundaries. If he were to simply follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, he could never forge his own path, right?
In his second life Renly is not here to be conservative.
In Renly’s opinion, the foundation of the representation style is undoubtedly an advantage, like the solid and steady base of a towering skyscraper. However, as a whole, the representation style imposes strong restrictions and excessive craftsmanship, lacking vitality. Eddie Redmayne is a typical representative of this, not that his performances are not good enough, but the patterns in his acting are too obvious and the framework is too evident.
On the other hand, the method acting style is too casual. It not only easily exerts excessive force but also leads to misinterpretation, resulting in the collapse of the entire character. However, from another perspective, without restrictions, actors can interpret things according to their own style and understanding. The kind of madness that walks on the edge of insanity will give the character an uncertain sense of mystery. Leonardo DiCaprio is a representative in this regard. Actually, his performances often exert excessive force, going overboard, but the viewing experience he brings to the audience is vivid and realistic.
Simply put, all performances of the representation style are rehearsed in advance. The actors know what they need to do and they deliver the correct performances at the right time, in the right position, and in the right way. Solid basic skills turn the performance into enjoyment. Constantly honing their skills, the craftsmanship of these actors is enough to move every audience member.
On the other hand, all performances of the methodical style are unpredictable. After truly immersing themselves in the role, actors abandon all restraints and immerse themselves in the performance. However, no one knows what effect will be presented until they see it on the monitor. They are prone to losing control and even losing themselves. Once actors enter the role, it becomes difficult to control it. It may not be entirely accurate, and it may be overly exaggerated or slightly inadequate. However, the fusion of reality and fiction can bring a soul-shaking viewing experience.
Therefore, Renly’s goal is to integrate these two performance styles, taking the strengths from each and compensating for the weaknesses, and creating a performance style of his own.
Rodrigo is a director. Naturally, he doesn’t have such a profound understanding of acting. However, he knows that presenting both levels as Renly mentioned is not an easy task. More accurately, it is an incredibly difficult task, and even A-list actors renowned for their acting skills wouldn’t dare to make such bold claims. However, once successful, not only will the depth and thickness of the characters undergo a qualitative change, but the entire work will also be reborn.
Having ambitious goals is a good thing, but it must be done step by step. Recklessly pursuing high aspirations can only result in utter failure.
Rodrigo looked at Renly, who appeared confident and composed, and his gaze wavered slightly for a moment, then he abruptly stood up. “Give me a minute.” Without waiting for a response, he dashed away in a hurry, disappearing into the crowd with a whoosh. After a short while, in the blink of an eye, Rodrigo reappeared within sight, his face filled with excitement as he rushed back to sit in front of Renly. “Here.”
Rodrigo handed Renly a small notebook, but before Renly could take it, Rodrigo took it back. “Wait,” he said, lowering his head to flip through the notebook. As he flipped through it, he deeply contemplated. After hesitating and pausing twice, he nodded to himself and then presented the notebook in front of Renly again. “Read the script and let’s give it a try.”
In front of Renly was the script for “Buried.”
Renly took the script and smiled, “So, are we finally getting to the audition?” His calm and composed demeanor made Rodrigo even more curious and excited.
In the formal audition process, the casting director would test actors in different ways. It could be a casual conversation, a performance based on a prepared act, or a discussion on a specific topic. However, the most common method was to perform a scene from the selected script on the spot, testing the actor’s ability to react in the moment and their script reading skills, as well as their proficiency with dialogue.
This was exactly what Rodrigo is doing right now.
He focused on Renly’s actions, feeling somewhat anxious, expectant, curious, and excited. Regardless of what Renly had up his sleeve, for Rodrigo, performing a scene on the spot is the best way to test him, to see how capable Renly truly is and whether he is a donkey or a horse, as they say.
Renly didn’t immediately rush into reading the lines. Instead, he quickly scanned both pages of the script, grasping the general idea of the situation. Then he chose a specific scene and started reading it attentively. By the third time, he quietly recited all the lines. The whole process was swift but not rushed, maintaining a steady pace. His professional demeanor immediately became apparent.
Suddenly, Rodrigo remembered something Renly had mentioned when they met – he said that he was relieved that Rodrigo hadn’t watched “The Pacific,” so he didn’t have a fixed impression of him. That was a good thing.
Is that really the case?
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