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Old 01-13-2018, 08:06 AM
JakeRS JakeRS is offline
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What makes an actor good or bad?

I don't think that I ever saw an actor who I thought did a "bad job", literally the only bad acting I saw was that in parody movies, like Extreme movie and so on, but I loved even movies like that, since that's the whole point of the movie, and yet, they have very low ratings..

If you took a random CSI or X files actor who appears in only one episode and not even as a main antagonist or something and if you took the main actors from the biggest AAA movies, I would see absolutely no difference in "believability" of their acts, in fact I'm probably going to prefer a no-name actor, than to see Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Sean Scott (Stifler), etc, since I am always going to associate their faces with their previous roles and genres.

I never disliked a movie because of the level of believability, I can dislike the storyline, the setting and environment, the pace (for example a boring movie that seems to never end), a genre,etc, I may even dislike an actor because I just dislike how he looks, he has an annoying role and so on, but none of those are related to believability, so I can't understand people that give low ratings to movies due to that.
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:08 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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If you can see the acting, it's not good.


mmm
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:13 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Sometimes I'm left wondering: Is that bad acting or bad writing? But on one level, a good actor is someone who, when you're watching them, you see the person they are playing, not the actor. For a bad actor, you see the actor, not the person they are playing. But there's a lot more to it than that-- an ability to convey different emotions, and different levels of emotions; an ability to use body language to communicate as well as words; and ability to relate realistically and convincingly with other actors.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:15 AM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is online now
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My wife directs a lot of community theater, so I've seen my fair share of bad acting. It has nothing to so with the writing since these are broadway plays, it's how the actor performs on stage. Do they know their lines or forget them? Do they deliver their lines at the right time? Do they speak clearly or do they mumble? Do they turn their back to the audience when they shouldn't, or mess up the blocking and are therefore in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are lots of ways an actor can do a bad job of acting. For a professionally trained actor they usually fail by being unbelievable in the character they are portraying. If I watch a film and the actor doesn't convince me they are the character they are playing I consider that bad acting.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:22 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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If you can see the acting, it's not good.


mmm
Basically this. I want it to look as if the person is actually just living the moment and not playing a roll.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:33 AM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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I think this thread is slightly better suited for Cafe Society. Relocated from IMHO.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:44 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Basically this. I want it to look as if the person is actually just living the moment and not playing a roll.
That Söze character in The Usual Suspects was good example of someone playing a roll.


mmm
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:44 AM
Leo Krupe Leo Krupe is offline
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I've come to the conclusion that everything in life boils down to a salesmanshiplike attitude. If you're a salesperson, the more you believe in your product, the better and more productive you'll be.

This goes for any walk of life: job interviews--you're selling yourself to a potential employer. Persuading someone to see a movie you want to see, or go to a particular restaurant.

I said all that to say this: acting is no different. The actor has to sell the performance. The more the actor believes in what he or she is doing, the more they, in their own minds, are the character, the better the chance the audience will accept it. There's more to it, of course, as mentioned (community theater). Talent goes a long way. But the point stands. If an actor is just in the production because of bills to pay, then the performance will suffer.

That doesn't mean every performance has be from an AC-tor!, but there was a reason Method Acting seemed to work.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:44 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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I think this thread is slightly better suited for Cafe Society. Relocated from IMHO.
An example of good directing!
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:01 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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I don't think that I ever saw an actor who I thought did a "bad job"
If all you've seen are professional actors, you haven't seen bad acting of the sort that dolphinboy describes. There are some basic rules that, unfortunately, not all amateur actors follow, like: the audience has to be able to hear you and understand what you're saying.

As for good acting, you might say there's two kinds: the "I really like seeing that guy act" kind, and the "I didn't even notice that guy was acting" kind.

A valid but not particularly useful definition of a good actor is someone who makes the movie/show/play they're in better than it would have been if someone else had had that role.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:15 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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If all you've seen are professional actors, you haven't seen bad acting of the sort that dolphinboy describes.
Yes, if you are cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are you are going to be a pretty good actor. To see bad acting, you have to watch zero-budget indie films, Youtube-based shows, and commercials for small local businesses that utilize employees or relatives. The first thing that comes to mind for me is this local commercial (which luckily somebody Youtubed.)
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:20 PM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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I consider broad, over-exaggerated, burlesque-skit type acting to be bad, unless it's supposed to be a burlesque-like skit.

The most recent that comes to mind is the mother on the show Mom (I don't watch it, but my husband does, so I've caught bits and pieces.) Nothing about her is believable to me - her lines, her postures, her expressions all scream "Bad SitCom Acting!!!" There's no subtlety of finesse - it's all in-your-face-here's-the-punch-line acting.

If I may take a cheap shot at amateurs - we saw A Lion In Winter by a local theater group. The guy playing Richard was apparently directed to be endlessly enraged, which he conveyed by clenching his fists and scowling... CONSTANTLY! So much so that I didn't notice anything else. That's a mark of bad acting.

Mugging for the audience is bad acting - in fact, unless breaking the fourth wall is part of the script, even acknowledging the existence of the audience is bad acting. Always playing yourself is bad acting (I'm looking at you, Diane Keaton.)

Mostly, tho, I agree with mmm - if you see that they're acting, it's not good acting.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:31 PM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
That Söze character in The Usual Suspects was good example of someone playing a roll.

mmm
LOL!

Something I've noticed many actors known specifically for acting skill that is superior and not because they always play a "type" well (thinking Meryl Streep, Christian Bale) is facial control. They seem to have control of every single muscle in their face, so that they can convey emotions by twitching one cheek, raising a single eyebrow, cocking their head, or doing all three at once. You certainly don't see bad actors who can do this, nor many people in general who can telegraph emotion so well without speaking.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:53 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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LOL!

Something I've noticed many actors known specifically for acting skill that is superior and not because they always play a "type" well (thinking Meryl Streep, Christian Bale) is facial control. They seem to have control of every single muscle in their face, so that they can convey emotions by twitching one cheek, raising a single eyebrow, cocking their head, or doing all three at once. You certainly don't see bad actors who can do this, nor many people in general who can telegraph emotion so well without speaking.
Clint Eastwood is the master of this. One twitch can mean, "What the Hell are you talking about", or "You're dead!"

Dennis
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:54 PM
Uniqueorn Uniqueorn is offline
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LOL!

Something I've noticed many actors known specifically for acting skill that is superior and not because they always play a "type" well (thinking Meryl Streep, Christian Bale) is facial control. They seem to have control of every single muscle in their face, so that they can convey emotions by twitching one cheek, raising a single eyebrow, cocking their head, or doing all three at once. You certainly don't see bad actors who can do this, nor many people in general who can telegraph emotion so well without speaking.
Maybe they know what microexpressions look like and they let them show on their face for longer than just a few milliseconds?
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:07 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Here is a good illustration of the difference between good and bad acting.

Star Trek Continues is a fan project to make new episodes of the original series. The stars are mostly amateurswith little zcting experience, working for free out of love for the show. Occasionally, though, they get a professional actor who appeared in the original show to recreate his role. In the episode Pilgrim of Eternity actor Michael Forest appears as Apollo. If you watch the episode the difference between fan and professional is instantly apparent.

The episode on Youtube
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:16 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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The first thing that comes to mind for me is this local commercial (which luckily somebody Youtubed.)
Ohh, wow. Similarly, here's an infamously poorly-acted ad for a Chicago auto insurance company, which ran for many years (possibly, in part, because it was so bad).

(And, don't even ask about male eagles laying eggs...)
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:34 PM
j666 j666 is offline
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Yes, if you are cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are you are going to be a pretty good actor.
Oh, I don't agree with that. I've seen really dreadful performances in professional television and moves, "screw this movie, I want to see the video of the producer that actor must have" dreadful.

There was a movie I completely misunderstood because one actor was so bad I assume the character was supposed to be lying the whole time. I wish I could remember it - mid to late '70s, American - no, I just can't remember.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:38 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Yes, if you are cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are you are going to be a pretty good actor.
To build on this: if you're cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are that you're an *extremely* good actor. (An exception would be actors -- primarily women -- who get cast more for looks than acting ability. And, even then, a gorgeous woman who has really limited acting ability at all won't last long in mainstream TV or films.)

Case in point: a friend of mine was a theater major in college. He was active in local / community theater, and in most of those productions, he was likely the best actor on the stage. He eventually got into his head that he was good enough that he could make the jump to the next level, and he moved from the small city where he lived, to Chicago, in hopes of doing just that.

Mutual friends of ours, who have also been active in community theater for a long time, and who have seen a handful of gifted actors from that level who *have* successfully made the move to the next level, have told me that, in their assessment, our friend is a talented amateur, but simply doesn't have the acting talent to stand a chance as a professional actor.

Our friend has been trying to get acting gigs for about five years now. He gets cast in community theater roles (where, yes, he's still among the most talented people on the stage), but his paying gigs have consisted of a Youtube comedy series, and a couple of non-speaking background roles on TV shows. He still goes out on auditions, he still has an agent, but I suspect it's finally dawning on him that he may not make it.

A relevant analogy would, I think, be watching professional athletes. Even the guy who's the worst player on a team (and likely won't last very long on that team) was almost undoubtedly one of the best players ever at his high school, and probably one of the best players on his college team. When you get to the professional level, *everyone* is an incredibly talented player, and the "bad players" are only bad relative to the amazing players at that level.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 01-13-2018 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:07 PM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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LOL!

Something I've noticed many actors known specifically for acting skill that is superior and not because they always play a "type" well (thinking Meryl Streep, Christian Bale) is facial control. They seem to have control of every single muscle in their face, so that they can convey emotions by twitching one cheek, raising a single eyebrow, cocking their head, or doing all three at once. You certainly don't see bad actors who can do this, nor many people in general who can telegraph emotion so well without speaking.
Geoffrey Palmer and Dame Judy Dench in "As Time Goes By.' Their faces tell so much of the story, and it's delightful to watch.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:10 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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When I was in college I was in a musical, as part of the orchestra. One of the male leads was supposedly this great actor, drama major, very serious, all that--yet he refused to cut his hair for the role (a '50s setting). Between the opening night and subsequent performances, he got busted for pot, and his role was assumed by another guy, not an actor, but he had been in the orchestra and knew all the lines, and he said he could do it, AND he was okay with looking the part, i.e., cutting his hair.

The difference was amazing. Not just for his part. He made everybody in the cast better. This amateur, who wasn't even a drama major, was so much better than the serious actor that it was probably really embarrassing for the original guy (I always wondered if he knew). Now, I think for me the first guy was kind of stagey and I guess that was okay, since it was on a stage. But the second guy made it look like a real slice of life.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:53 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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The most recent that comes to mind is the mother on the show Mom (I don't watch it, but my husband does, so I've caught bits and pieces.) Nothing about her is believable to me - her lines, her postures, her expressions all scream "Bad SitCom Acting!!!" There's no subtlety of finesse - it's all in-your-face-here's-the-punch-line acting.
That's Allison Janney, who has an absolute boatload of acting awards and nominations . Which doesn't mean you're wrong of course - that is certainly a very broad role played for exaggerated effect. To some extent good acting is a little subjective.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:41 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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What makes an actor good is if they can play a wide range of characters with vastly different personalities and personas.

I'm not sure who a good example of this would be. Maybe Samuel L Jackson. He can play an Uncle Tom character in Django unchained and then play a take no shit military major in the hateful 8. Totally different characters and he did both well (his hateful 8 character is one of my favorite pieces of acting). However in retrospect, his role in Django was still kind of authoritative. So maybe thats not a good example, he wasn't playing 2 totally different characters in those movies. Someone who can play opposite ends of the spectrum is a good actor. Happy, depressed, authoritative, submissive, angry, peaceful, etc.

Christian Bale's ability to do accents is uncanny. When you hear him speak in his normal voice you are surprised he has an english accent.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:46 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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To build on this: if you're cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are that you're an *extremely* good actor. (An exception would be actors -- primarily women -- who get cast more for looks than acting ability. And, even then, a gorgeous woman who has really limited acting ability at all won't last long in mainstream TV or films.
Excellent point, and it applies to all arts and sports.

There are things that a professions actor has to be able to deal with that most people just don't understand. Leonard Nimoy once spoke about being cast as Spock. In the pilot, with Jeffery Hunter, he played the role in one way. When Shatner was hired, he had to change his approach to the role to mesh better with Shatner's style of acting.

An amateur actor would not think of this, and may not be able to change their style to fit.

Sometimes a role calls for overacting. Sometimes it calls for the actor to play a type (even himself as a type). It's up to the script and the director to determine how to do it.

Ultimately, good acting is the ability to tailor your reactions to match what's needed in the work.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:46 PM
running coach running coach is online now
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What makes an actor good is if they can play a wide range of characters with vastly different personalities and personas.

I'm not sure who a good example of this would be.
Maybe Samuel L Jackson. He can play an Uncle Tom character in Django unchained and then play a take no shit military major in the hateful 8. Totally different characters and he did both well (his hateful 8 character is one of my favorite pieces of acting). However in retrospect, his role in Django was still kind of authoritative. So maybe thats not a good example, he wasn't playing 2 totally different characters in those movies. Someone who can play opposite ends of the spectrum is a good actor. Happy, depressed, authoritative, submissive, angry, peaceful, etc.

Christian Bale's ability to do accents is uncanny. When you hear him speak in his normal voice you are surprised he has an english accent.
Gary Oldman.
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:01 PM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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What makes an actor good is if they can play a wide range of characters with vastly different personalities and personas.

I'm not sure who a good example of this would be. Maybe Samuel L Jackson. He can play an Uncle Tom character in Django unchained and then play a take no shit military major in the hateful 8. Totally different characters and he did both well (his hateful 8 character is one of my favorite pieces of acting). However in retrospect, his role in Django was still kind of authoritative. So maybe thats not a good example, he wasn't playing 2 totally different characters in those movies. Someone who can play opposite ends of the spectrum is a good actor. Happy, depressed, authoritative, submissive, angry, peaceful, etc.

Christian Bale's ability to do accents is uncanny. When you hear him speak in his normal voice you are surprised he has an english accent.
The best actors are the one that you have seen in many different roles and didn't realize was the same guy. When you make the connection, you're astonished.
Dennis Haysbert is one for me.
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:38 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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The thing is, there are actors, and there are players. One isn't necessarily better than the other; they're two different beasts and there's a place for both of them.

Actors are people who transform themselves with each role. They lose or gain weight, they change accents, they do research on the person they're playing (if applicable), they inhabit their roles. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.

Players are people who can recite their lines in a natural way, and they're being funny or making you cry (although usually the former), but they're not really expanding their range. They're basically playing themselves, or a version we perceive as themselves, and it works because we like them, but they're not portraying a character that's too dissimilar from their own persona. Jason Segal, Kristen Wiig, etc.

If you can't do either one of those, either transform yourself or sound naturalistic, then chances are you're a bad actor.
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Old 01-13-2018, 05:15 PM
RickJay RickJay is online now
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Jason Segal is a wonderful actor. Fantastic. Kristen Wiig is better still. Better than 99.9% of actors, if not more. Again, you're comparing a professional to other professionals.

If you want to know what makes a bad actor bad, you don't start with Kristen Wiig any more than if I asked "what makes a bad hockey player?" you'd start with an NHL player.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:01 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Sigh. If I mentioned the other 99.9%, you wouldn't know who I was talking about, would you? Of course I'm not talking about the hundreds of thousands of people who do community theatre, local commercials, etc.; I'm talking about "of the people who are famous, there are true actors, and there are people who fulfill their place in the world by making us laugh, but don't do it by inhabiting the souls of different people".
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:05 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Plus, by your reasoning, no professional actor would be considered "bad". I know plenty of people who find Nicholas Cage, Keanu Reeves, etc. to be stilted and wooden. Again, of course they're better than the multitude of people we've never heard of who call themselves actors , but that doesn't make them immune to criticism.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:24 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is online now
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Here is a good illustration of the difference between good and bad acting.

Star Trek Continues is a fan project to make new episodes of the original series. The stars are mostly amateurswith little zcting experience, working for free out of love for the show. Occasionally, though, they get a professional actor who appeared in the original show to recreate his role. In the episode Pilgrim of Eternity actor Michael Forest appears as Apollo. If you watch the episode the difference between fan and professional is instantly apparent.

The episode on Youtube
The one who didn't convince me the most was the Spock actor. It made me appreciate even more what Leonard Nimoy could do (with just a raised eyebrow or the precise timing of how he delivered his lines).

The worst performance by a name actor I can think of would have to be Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:37 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is online now
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Check out some indie films, Christian or other ideological films or any fan-fiction on YouTube for examples of "bad acting". Even the acting in the funny Kevin Smith classic "Clerks" was actually pretty bad (he cast his friends who were mostly not professional actors). Things I notice:

Looking stiff or uncomfortable
Flat or emotionless dialogue
Over acting or trying too hard to convey emotion or intensity
Inability to realistically convey the appropriate emotion for the scene.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:38 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Saying that some who doesn't transform himself for every role is not a good actor is like saying that Jimi Hendrix was not a good musician because he was a lousy saxophone player.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:53 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Inability to realistically convey the appropriate emotion for the scene.

Oh Hai Mark.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:02 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Saying that some who doesn't transform himself for every role is not a good actor is like saying that Jimi Hendrix was not a good musician because he was a lousy saxophone player.
Yeah. In acting as in other things, versatility is impressive, but it's not the one defining characteristic of greatness.

And the actor "that you have seen in many different roles and didn't realize was the same guy"? Maybe it's just because he's boring and unmemorable?
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:42 PM
Jim's Son Jim's Son is online now
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A good press agent.
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:27 PM
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In a normal conversation its easy to tell whether someone is just nodding and saying 'yep, yep, uhuh', or being really engaged, and most of that comes from non-verbal cues, like the movement of the eyes, little facial tics and so on. A good actor can persuade you, in a movie, when their face is blown up to the size of a houseboat that they are really, really concerned about that dinosaur escaping, or that the professor has shrunk his kids, again, or the hero's journey has met a challenge. Even one with a distinctive face, say Gene Hackman, can make you forget its Gene and that he is not really the president or know how to drive a sub. Conversely a bad one will make you conscious that you are watching an actor in a movie on a set.

An actor friend said that for TV and movies the minimum standard expected of an actor is that they look like they absolutely belong where they are shown, because of their dialogue, their carriage and actions, clothing and setting [so a mix of actor's skill and the other countless peple in the credits]. Good actors then are set apart in making it feel like you've been watching and getting to know them for a long time, rather than just the past half hour. In other words the difference between good and better acting is being able to communicate more about the character, which also gives insight into why they are doing what they are doing on screen.
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:52 PM
RickJay RickJay is online now
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Plus, by your reasoning, no professional actor would be considered "bad". I know plenty of people who find Nicholas Cage, Keanu Reeves, etc. to be stilted and wooden.
Those people don't understand acting, then.

Keanu Reeves isn't the greatest actor who ever lived, and there's things he can't do, but he's a first rate actor. Very few actors could have played Neo that well.
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:00 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Saying that some who doesn't transform himself for every role is not a good actor is like saying that Jimi Hendrix was not a good musician because he was a lousy saxophone player.
I seriously wonder if people even read anymore. Let's go back and see what I said, shall we?

"...there are actors, and there are players. One isn't necessarily better than the other; they're two different beasts and there's a place for both of them."

Why you guys are interpreting that as me saying if you don't transform yourself then you're a bad actor, I have no idea. I said there is a place for both of them, and one isn't better than the other. What more do you want?

If you seriously want to make a case that the third guy from the left in a sex comedy from the '80s is as good of an actor as Philip Seymour Hoffman, then go ahead, be my guest. I threw out those names as examples of people whose names I knew and you're acting like I'm criticizing your uncle or something. I'm not going to sit here and throw my resume at you, but I do work on Broadway, and I worked on the upcoming Mamma Mia sequel film. It's not like I've never spent time around actors. But by all means keep defending Keanu, as if I'm the first person who ever described him as stilted.
  #40  
Old 01-13-2018, 09:44 PM
don't ask don't ask is online now
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I think the essence of good acting is making it appear that what is happening is happening spontaneously, for the first and only time. Not as if you are remembering lines and actions.

In a really good, very brief book, A Practical Handbook for the Actor, based on the acting classes run by David Mamet and William H Macy, the authors state the actor's job is to "find a way to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances of the play." And real actors have the time and skills to achieve this.

I always thought this anecdote, about the making of Marathon Man, from William Goldman's Adventures In The Screen Trade says it all:

Quote:
Last Olivier story.

He and Roy Scheider were rehearsing a scene. In the story they are very close to violence, but both are still trying to figure out what the other one knows. The dialog went like this:

OLIVIER We must, talk. Truthfully, Are you to be trusted?
SCHEIDER No.
OLIVIER Was that the truth? Or are you trying to upset me?
SCHEIDER I know why you're here - and I know that sooner or later you're going to go to the bank.
OLIVIER Perhaps I have already been.

Schlesinger interrupted them. He said, "Larry, that's supposed to go fast, and after Roy says the line about the bank, you're taking a pause before 'Perhaps I have already been.' Don't take the pause."

Olivier said "Of course," and they started into the dialog again. And then he stopped. "I have a problem about not taking the pause." We waited.

"I'm trying to find out information. Roy says, 'I know why you're here.' And I need to find out what that means. Then Roy says, 'I know . . .' And I'm listening. Then he says, 'I know that sooner or later . . .' And I'm still listening. Now he says, 'I know that sooner or later you're going to go . . .' And I'm still listening. Finally he says, 'I know that sooner or later you're going to go to the bank.' That pause I'm taking is to give me time to register the information about the bank."

"I understand," Schlesinger said. "But we've got to get rid of the pause."

Olivier turned to me, then. "Bill," he said, "could I suggest an alteration in the line? Would it be all right if I changed it so that the line went, 'I know that you're going to go to the bank sooner or later?' You see, then I could register the word bank while he was saying 'sooner or later' and I wouldn't need the pause."

Obviously it was fine with me and the line was altered and we went on without the pause. And probably this two minutes of rehearsal explained at length doesn't seem like much put down in black and white.But that moment-when the actor of the century asked me would I mind if he switched six words around - is the most memorable incident of my movie career. Olivier. Calling me "Bill." Olivier. Asking me would I mind. That's high cotton.
  #41  
Old 01-13-2018, 09:48 PM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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I watched a TV episode the other day that had some really seriously terrible bad acting in it. Everyone else was pretty good, for the silly inconsequential show that it was, but this one guy was putting on an accent that wasn't his native one, with a speech impediment, while playing a blind character. I think he had so many things to concentrate on he got a bit overwhelmed and managed to fail at all of them.

There are some actors who I think are just plain awful, but others think are really good*, so it's not an objective measurement. Then there are some actors that most universally agree are very very good, such as Anthony Hopkins or Cate Blanchett, those kinds of people who are always at the top of lists and get all the recognition. It makes me wonder why don't all actors just do what they do, but obviously it's not anywhere near as easy as that.

Stiff, stilted performance. Earnest melodramatic over-acting. Performing inappropriately for the genre. Not caring enough to convey realistic emotion ("phoning it in"). Not reacting to what's happening in the scene ("in the moment"). That's all different kinds of bad acting.

*Derek Jacobi
  #42  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:24 PM
Voyager Voyager is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
To build on this: if you're cast in a mainstream TV show or movie, chances are that you're an *extremely* good actor. (An exception would be actors -- primarily women -- who get cast more for looks than acting ability. And, even then, a gorgeous woman who has really limited acting ability at all won't last long in mainstream TV or films.)
And there is yet another level of filtering. Not only must the actor be good enough to get an agent, and be sent by that agent to calls, but he or she must also beat out all the other people auditioning for that role.

There are good actors and better actors. There are miscast actors. But it is unlikely that an actor who has made it to something we see in the movies or TV is a bad actor.
Not counting monster movies filmed in Wisconsin that you see on MST3K, of course.
  #43  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
What makes an actor good is if they can play a wide range of characters with vastly different personalities and personas.
Good actors do quite well playing to a type, and are often cast that way. And some actors do some things better than others - like accents. Like humor.
I think it would not be too controversial to say that Patrick Stewart is a better actor all around than Shatner. (Though Shatner is not a bad actor by any stretch of the imagination.) But Shatner does humor 50 times better than Stewart, and nearly any ending of TOS shows us.
If every actor could do any role, casting directors would be out of a job.
  #44  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
That's Allison Janney, who has an absolute boatload of acting awards and nominations . Which doesn't mean you're wrong of course - that is certainly a very broad role played for exaggerated effect. To some extent good acting is a little subjective.
People should remember that what they see on the screen is what got selected by the director. That "bad" performance you see might be just what the director wants.
  #45  
Old 01-14-2018, 06:47 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
I think the essence of good acting is making it appear that what is happening is happening spontaneously, for the first and only time. Not as if you are remembering lines and actions.
This is what impresses my about stage actors - how many times during the run of a play do they say and do the same things over and over? Yet when I show up at the matinee about 8 weeks after opening night, it doesn't feel rehearsed or rote - it's happening right then and there!! How do they do it??

Similarly, in movies, there's the matter of multiple retakes for whatever reason. It really hits home for me when I see a blooper reel - people cracking up over and over at a particular point, yet in the finished product, it's perfect. It amazes me.

And that's why I'm not an actor. Yeah, that's the reason...
  #46  
Old 01-14-2018, 08:54 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Some actors don't have the range to play emotional scenes.

Don't expect Chuck Norris to play the supportive husband of a cancer patient. He just doesn't have the depth to show that level of pain and despair.

I watched him every week on Walker Texas Ranger. The expression on his face almost never changed. Once in awhile he cracked a smile. That's why the the relationship with Alex(the DA) was so bland and sterile. Chuck wasn't capable of portraying a deep loving relationship. Watch him in scenes with CJ and then with Alex. Its no different! She's supposed to be his love interest.

He did get better with experience. His acting in the 70's & 80's action movies is outright wooden and stilted. I remember renting 5 of them one weekend before a ice storm. I didn't finish watch a couple. They were just so bad.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-14-2018 at 08:59 AM.
  #47  
Old 01-14-2018, 09:00 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Err. CD not CJ. CD was the retired Texas Ranger that ran the bar.
  #48  
Old 01-14-2018, 09:06 AM
bucketybuck bucketybuck is offline
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Seems like the answer is that with a bad actor you can, in some indefinable way, see that he/she is acting. You can see that he is repeating lines that he has learned, is looking in the direction he has been told to look and is speaking only when he is supposed to be speaking. A good actor doesn't do that, he makes it seem as if he himself decided to say those words at that time in a perfectly natural way.

Which gives me the chance to state how crap of an actor I think Gary Sinise is, because every time I see his gurning face it just looks like he is acting. He looks like he has said his line and is now staring at the other actor waiting for him to say his line while pretending to look intense or interested.
  #49  
Old 01-14-2018, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeRS View Post
I don't think that I ever saw an actor who I thought did a "bad job", ...
I will presume that you have never watched Mr. Selfridge. When an actor's portrayal of a character is so unbelievable and jarring that the viewer is constantly aware that he is watching the actor recite lines, and not a character living a part of a story, that is bad acting.
  #50  
Old 01-14-2018, 09:10 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bucketybuck View Post
Seems like the answer is that with a bad actor you can, in some indefinable way, see that he/she is acting.
Quoth the superhero movie, “acting is acting like you’re not acting.”
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