Chapter 93 – Barcelona
When people mention Spain, they always involuntarily associate it with words like passion, sunshine, olive oil, bullfighters, flamenco, and festivities. It seems like every day there is a delightful vacation filled with joy. Nestled along the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona is particularly hailed as the pearl of the Iberian Peninsula, attracting attention from around the world.
Apart from sunny beaches and eye-catching beauties, this city boasts a globally renowned football club, enchanting Mediterranean seascapes, and the most imaginative architect in history, Gaudí. The “century-old unfinished” Sagrada Família remains as one of the world’s most famous architectural wonders.
Compared to the bustling La Rambla, Renly has always been more interested in the Gothic Quarter. Originally a Roman fortress village, it gained its name from the many Gothic-style ancient buildings. Strolling through this area, each building seems to tell its own story, and every street appears to be carved with traces of historical winds and frost. It’s as if fingertips could touch the beating heart of this city.
Everyone can find their own way to experience Barcelona and discover a reason to stay there.
The night descended slowly, but the lingering heat of midsummer persisted in the air without dissipating for a long time. However, it was only now that the moment belonging to the people had just begun. Department stores, clothing shops, and so on closed one after another, yet the crowd on the streets was gradually increasing. The pubs and coffee shops were lively, with even Plaza de Catalunya being filled to its capacity. Laughter and cheers filled the streets and alleys as if after a whole day of slumber, the city had finally awakened.
Someone once joked that a day in Spain begins at nine in the evening. Renly agreed to that wholeheartedly.
“The daytime belongs to the tourists, and the night belongs to the Spaniards, right?” Renly was looking at the lively scene on the small street before him, as he was lifting the glass of Sangria in his hand, savouring the funkiness of the alcohol drenched in the sweet and sour taste.
In the narrow alley where only one car could pass, there were more than a dozen bars, and each one was already full of customers. Even the steps at the entrance were occupied, and some people simply held a bottle of beer, chatting happily with friends at the door, seemingly unconcerned about whether or not they would be able to find a place to sit down.
The stars were reflected in the brilliant hazy halo of streetlights, as the tide rose and fell.
Rodrigo looked at Renly in front of him. The tapas in his hand was unable to enter his mouth, and after much hesitation, he finally put it back on the plate. “Yes, Spaniards always love the night, it is mysterious yet passionate, making people can’t help but want to take off their mask and reveal their true selves.”
“This is why Spanish beauties always have a unique charm,” the smile in Renly’s eyes gently spilt onto the light curve of his lips. A layer of alcoholic blush covered his cheeks, adding a touch of laziness to him.
Rodrigo opened his mouth, then closed it, and then opened it again, but after repeating this process several times, he couldn’t hold back his words any longer. “Renly, are you serious?”
“About what?” Renly raised an eyebrow while smiling, and he then asked, “About beauties? Of course, I couldn’t be more serious.”
Rodrigo couldn’t catch his breath in one breath. “I mean, the thing about you lying in a coffin all day. Are you serious about that?”
Earlier, Renly had earnestly inquired to Rodrigo about how he could find a funeral parlour in Barcelona. He explained that before the official shooting of “Buried” started he needed to inspect the location and he planned to negotiate with the funeral parlour to allow him to lie in a nailed coffin for one night. At first, Rodrigo didn’t think much of it, but as he listened further, he became more and more horrified, feeling as if his jaw was about to dislocate. However, as the person involved, Renly was just now casually discussing nights in Spain. Rodrigo felt a bit breathless.
“Of course,” Renly casually replied, “if I were still in New York now, I would be willing to spend a night in a cemetery. You know, bury the coffin underground, cover it with a layer of soil, just a thin layer. No one wants to suffocate, right?” Renly chuckled lightly, “But as I am currently in Barcelona, and because my Spanish is only average, I don’t want any unexpected incidents to happen. So, let’s skip the cemetery part.”
Rodrigo looked at Renly’s regretful expression and couldn’t help but tug at his own collar. However, he found that he was wearing a crew-neck T-shirt tonight, not tight around the neck at all, but why did he feel like his head was starting to lack oxygen?
“Renly, are you sure?” Rodrigo’s brain turned into a mess of mush. He knows that Renly is a talented actor, which was also why he gave up on Ryan Reynolds, but… he didn’t expect Renly to be so bold, even borderline crazy.
Renly put down the glass of Sangria that was in his hand and asked teasingly, “Rodrigo, have you ever experienced entering a narrow space and feeling like you can’t breathe, like an elevator or a bathroom? You know it’s a safe place, but deep inside, you’re constantly screaming, and desperately wanting to escape?”
Rodrigo felt his mouth become dry, and Renly’s lips, stained with red wine, shimmered with a seductive red gloss as if a vampire had just finished a meal. The dangerous dark aura made him involuntarily swallow saliva, his heart rapidly beating, pounding in his ears.
“…” He couldn’t find any words to answer him, only shaking his head to indicate denial.
“I didn’t either.” Renly’s lips formed an elegant curve. “You see, on paper, we can understand this phenomenon; it’s called claustrophobia. From a psychological perspective, every reason for it seems plausible. But when a person is actually experiencing this kind of fear, all theories become useless because the person cannot control themselves. Paul in ‘Buried’ is the same.”
As analyzed by Renly, Paul’s character has two levels. If he was only aiming to meet Ryan’s standards, Renly could already commit to the performance with absolute confidence, doing it better than Ryan. However, to further elevate the quality of his acting, he has to immerse himself in that despair, the feeling of the Grim Reaper’s hands slowly tightening around his throat, the sensation of being trapped no matter how one struggles.
This nuanced difference is very difficult to express in simple language. Even professional film critics and acting teachers might struggle to articulate it in words. However, during the viewing process, the nuanced feeling of breaking free from the constraints of the big screen provides a vastly different cinematic experience for the audience, it is almost like night and day.
The Representation School and the Method School of acting actually represent two different understandings of acting. The former represents the traditional academic viewpoint. They firmly believe that so-called actors must be able to handle different roles. Through the methods, techniques, and rhythm of acting, they can present different characters and different meanings. The boundary between reality and drama is clear-cut for them. They can enter and exit their performance at any time. Acting and personal life are two independent parts for them. Acting is a constantly refined skill and a true master of this craft should be “a person with a thousand faces”.
The latter represents the viewpoint of the new era and trends. They believe that to play a role, one must immerse oneself in it, blur the boundaries between reality and drama, or even go mad and become obsessed with it, abandoning all technical constraints, truly letting the power of the soul burst forth in the essence of performance. Generally, as long as an actor plays the role of just one character well, that is a success for them. Once immersed in the role, they may never be able to break free. After reaching the peak, there is a possibility they wuill never have another great performance like that again, but it doesn’t matter because they have given that one character life, even if it’s just one.
For his new role, Renly is going to attempt to integrate these two styles of performance, allowing the Representational acting to deviate slightly from its track and increase its shock value. At the same time, he will try to impose some constraints on the Method style of acting, ensuring that the expression of his emotions accurately outlines the character.
Renly is not the first actor to try this. Al Pacino began experimenting trying to do this in the later stages of his acting career. However, the results were not entirely satisfactory because the core ideas of the two styles of performance are contradictory. One emphasizes control, while the other emphasizes losing control; one values clarity, while the other values being lost. Even Al’s performances weren’t as good as they could have been, as his hesitant and constrained approach caused his acting to lose the sharpness and substance he had before, which was disappointing.
In addition to Al Pacino, many actors have also tried accomplishing this, hoping that they could break shackles and create history. Unfortunately, up to the point of Renly’s rebirth this still only remains as a theoretical possibility.
Renly is not a genius, and so for him creating a history seems too distant. He’s not even sure if his acting talent is real. He just wants to discover a style of his own on this path of acting.
During “The Pacific” period, he mostly used representational acting skills in his performances. There was only one scene, in the ninth episode, when he witnessed the crying of a baby and embraced the death of a woman – this was the first time he truly felt the struggle, pain, confusion, and sadness deep within Eugene’s heart – a point where his faith collapsed. His inner world was crumbling, but outwardly, he remained as calm as water.
If given the chance, he would be very willing to have a conversation with the real Eugene Sledge. What he is more curious about is how Eugene managed to come out of it, how he returned to the normal course of life, or perhaps if Eugene never truly came out of it.
In that particular scene, the usage of the fusion of representational and method acting was extremely ambiguous, as if it was a fleeting moment of inspiration. The only thing that can be confirmed is that Renly did indeed feel the difference in his performance at that time, the balance point between losing control and maintaining it – this truly does exist. Therefore, this has further strengthened his determination to continue trying!
“Buried” is such an opportunity for him; truly understanding Paul’s impending emotions while he was buried alive is the first step towards achieving that.
Rodrigo felt that his brain was having trouble catching up, “Renly, I know you want to deliver a brilliant performance, and that’s what I hope for too. But… but this is just a movie with a budget of less than three million dollars, and your salary is only a hundred thousand dollars. God, it’s not worth it for you to put in that much effort.”
Renly laughed heartily, “My friend, so are you implying that you are going to give me a rise?”
T/N – So we are finally getting closer to our boy’s second acting gig. This should be fun.
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