Dumb Actors

My friend was telling me at one point that he had read a study, actually a newspaper report about a study, that said that how good an actor you are is inversely proportional to how intelligent you are.
The theory, or his kinda vague retelling of it, went like this: The ability to act stems from your ability to shunt your real personality aside and put a different one in it’s place, and only dumb people can do this. Smart people on the other hand, have trouble with it for the opposite reason.
Now you can pencil me into the “Doesn’t buy it” column on this one, but, just in case I’m wrong, let me just say now that I never got a lead role in any pageant in my whole elementary school career.

Didn’t Brooke Shields go to Princeton? Have you ever seen an episode of “Suddenly Susan”?

On the other hand, though, you have Dustin Hoffman and the like.

“We’re gonna have lawyers here. It’ll be a fun time.”

Ronald Reagan was clearly a counterexample. Lorne Greene also was rumored to be “thick as a whale omelet,” but certainly was not an exceptionally gifted actor. Actually, I can’t think of any examples that support this claim, besides Brooke Shields of course. I’ll grant you that one.

That’s the way that it is on this bitch of an earth."
– Pozzo, Waiting For Godot

One can graduate from Princeton and still be stupid. I work with many people who have degrees from “prestigious” universities, yet could not think their way out of a paper bag.

My opinion only, but I feel the study you read may have used “self-consciousness” as a guide for “intelligence.”

Think Keanu Reeves can act?

Then again this would explain the popularity among actors of things like magnetic copper healing bracelets and Scientology.

I believe James Woods attended MIT and got a 1600 on his SATs (or the equivalent of his day). I don’t know if he graduated from there.
I will let others here debate the value of an education from MIT.

This is a kinda hard one. How can we know if an actor is intelligent? Interviews??
Let’s not confuse intelligence with education. (heh heh, new toy.

As a former actor and sometime stage director, I can tell you that your discussion is going to be meaningless as long as your examples continue to discuss spokesmodels instead of actors. Intelligence is an outstanding asset to an actor, as it is to anyone in any other profession. The notion that an actor at work must abandon his or her own personality in order to adopt another is a case of overmystifying the work of the actor. One draws upon one’s own experiences, imagination, and yes, one’s own personality to create an illusion. In casting, if I had two people who auditioned equally well and had no other way of deciding between them, I’d always give the part to the one I thought was more intelligent.

Well some examples of well (prestigous) educated people who are bad actors: Brooke, Mira Sorvino, Cindy Crawford, Lisa Kudrow, and a couple of others who I can’t think of.

A better litmus is the right brained/left brained theory. I would accept the idea that analytically inteligent people make bad actors, your stereotypically “intelligent” engineers, scientists, and the like. Then people who graduate from Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford etc in fields like english, poetry, acting, etc. may be good actor, but considered intelligent. It all boils down to what is intelligence? I say its the ablity to solve problems, and therefore yes intelligent people can’t act. I’m sure lots of people would consider Mozart, Picasso, and Shakespeare intelligent. I don’t (based on what they are famous for), but they are geniouses in a sense. So I guess you need to clarify what you and this article consider intelligence.

The facts expressed here belong to everybody, the opinions to me. The distinction is
yours to draw…

Omniscient; BAG

It’s really not intelligence but emotional response. A good actor does not convey his/her true emotion. A great actor has the ability to mirror other emotions.

Emotional strength is the key. I suppose this implies a certain degree of insensitivity.

Try playing poker. The mathematician who is solid on all probabilities will be beaten by the ignorant actor.

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Probably a game of celebrity Jeopardy could shed some light onto this subject. I haven’t seen one in so long I don’t remember who was even playing.

When will there be a Celebrity “Win Ben Stein’s Money?” That “Daily Show” thing was no help, those guys aren’t exactly actors.

Well some examples of well (prestigous) educated people who are bad actors: Brooke, Mira Sorvino, Cindy Crawford, Lisa Kudrow, and a couple of others who I can’t think of.

I personally think that Lisa Kudrow (and along the same lines Cristina Applegate (back in the days of MWC)) are both great actors and from what I hear pretty smart too. I don’t know why you think Lisa Kudrow is a bad actor, unless thats her real personality (which it’s not) you gotta be pretty good to be stupid that convincinly

Formerly knowen as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

I was going to mention that.
They should call it Dumb Jeopardy instead of Celebrity. Even with all the questions made easier they can’t get them right.


I consider Jodi Foster to be not only an incredibly gifted actress and director, but highly intelligent and well-educated to boot.
There are others, some who even have breasts.

Once again, the “I heard it from X who read it somewhere” preface is a sure warning sign of drivel to come.

Can you find that article Surely? We would need to read it to see what it says…

Acting requires a lot of brain to memorize lines. An average script is around 114 pages, that is a lot of memorization. Course, they also have cue cards.

Isn’t it more important that an actor/ess be able to sympathize? In order to do that they must have similar life experiences to what they are portraying. Like Marilee Matlin, who didn’t have to act cause she often plays who she is in real life.

I believe that Geena Davis is a member of Mensa, if that helps. Also, why do you think that Mira Sorvino is a bad actress. She did a great job in Mighty Aphrodite, for which she won an Oscar.

Also, while Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, and Brooke Shields belong to the acting profession, they are not actors. They are actresses.

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”
–Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

This is probably really stupid of me, but I love SNL’s parodies of Celebrity Jeopardy, particularly when they have Sean Connery misreading the catagories.

“I’ll have ‘Swords,’ Alex.”
“That’s ‘S words,’ Sean.”

“I’ll take ‘The rapists,’ Alex.”
“That’s ‘therapists,’ Sean.”

Those slay me :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Nope, it doesn’t. I’m a member too, and from the people I’ve met, the group’s membership requirements don’t mean as much as you may think.

In English, the “male” form of a word is used as the default. Any person who acts is an actor. (Hey, if a woman graduates from medical school, should we call her a “doctress”?)

If you are talking about people in general, then yes, you can use the term “actor” to describe women like Mira Sorvino, but I believe that when you are describing an individual performer, then such a person is either an actor or an actress.

I will admit that it is an outdated mode of language, but it still does not seem right to me to call a female thespian an actor. The reason we don’t refer to doctors and doctresses is because until very recently, the medical profession was male-dominated. When they finally did allow women in, it was old fashioned to call female doctors “doctresses.” However, we have had female thespians around since the Restoration, and we are stuck with the word “actress.” Although we do have actors playing female roles and actresses playing male roles, the sex of the individual thespian is usually critical in determining what roles they play. After all, acting is the only profession I know that divides the awards they give based on the sex of the performer. We don’t see Tonys given to the Best Male Costume Designer or Oscars given to the Best Female Cinematogropher or Emmys to the Best Female telewriter. Since it doesn’t look like the term “actress” isn’t going away, we ought to use it, and use it properly.