Is acting difficult?

It seems to me that it is. I know nothing about the subject, but to be able to memorize large quantities of script with the appropriate gestures looks like an incredible task. Any actors out there?

I was quite convincing in my sixth-grade play. I think acting is rather easy, compared to the time you put in to being a programmer, writer, or learning the nuances of various computer interfaces.

Acting is easy, making a career out of it is very, very hard. As far as memorization goes, anyone can memorize a couple of pages of lines and deliver onstage. True careers take years and years of study in the relevent fields.

I guess the science of acting is rather easy to master. The art of acting is something you either have or don’t have.

That’s the point of the (seemingly endless) rehearsals–to move the dialogue, movements, gestures, etc. into long-term memory, making them “second nature.” Given enough rehearsal, most people can learn the above; whether they’re good (or even bearable to watch) is another matter.

It’s a funny process. Usually, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday; but I can still recall elements of an extremely long monologue I had in Saint Joan thirty-four years ago.

i’m an actor, although i’ve never acted professionally, but i don’t find it difficult. which is not to say that it is an easy thing.

learning the lines is the easy bit. all it takes is a bit of effort. even the blocking is something that will come naturally with a few rehearsals. the hard part is finding the right way to perform your character, to make your part ‘come alive’, and to inject the required amount of energy into your performance. seeing an actor in a movie is a bit decieving - it’s difficult to comprehend how good they are because they seem so natural.

its truly amazing how exhausting it is, too. while gesture, lines and expression don’t seem particularly wearying, after a big performance or a day-long rehearsal, you’re well buggered. this is another fact of acting; once you’re are actually performing, it’s not difficult per se, however it does take a lot of concentration and is quite exhausting.

it’s a lot of fun though. getting up in front of an audience and performing may seem terrifying to some people, but i find it extraodinarily exhilirating. coming off stage after a good performance gives you an indescribable buzz, and it makes all thw hard work worthwhile. besides, i really like stage lights.

Although there’s a kind of mystique surrounding actors in the public imagination, acting is really no more difficult than any other pursuit. You get good (if you do) by practice. I’ve had a few lessons, but beyond the general instruction to “accept the given circumstance,” it’s pretty much a matter of rehearsal, that is, practice. That, and once you have the mechanics (for me that’s learning lines and blocking and hitting all your marks) you just keep doing it until it feels natural.

Gesturing, if it’s learned, looks learned. I know there are exceptions, but generally, actors who learn every gesture tend to look wooden onstage. I’ve always found it better to “behave” more than “act.” That includes gestures that come naturally from the given circumstance.

So far, I think we’ve all been talking about acting onstage. The thing that seems to impress most people about actors is that they do what they do in front of a lot of strangers. That’s terrifying for many people. So, at least as far as stage acting is concerned, I suppose the primary hurdle, more than the mechanics of speaking lines, is dealing with stage fright. I agree with gex gex that performing for an audience is exhilerating, but I have never done a play in which I did not suffer shortness of breath, dry mouth, and almost panic just before stepping onstage. Once I’m out there, though, the panic just goes away. I’m so concentrated on what I’m doing that I don’t even feel pain.

Somehow the audience brings out the performance. Speaking only for myself, I never achieve “performance level” in rehearsals, which is upsetting to directors until they see me onstage. The audience puts the final polish on the performance. They are really a large part of the whole theatrical happening.

I have absolutely no idea about acting for a camera. I only read for a movie part once and wasn’t called back. I was so self conscious in front of that glass “eye” that I stumbled all over myself. I love a live audience (the bigger the better), but a cold camera scares hell out of me.

I think it’s difficult. As a side-job I used to be an extra. I got the opportunity to make a commercial. I did and I stank.

Every once in a while the commercial is back on TV.

I’m sooooooo embarrassed by it. ** :o/ **

IMO acting is difficult. I am a singer and have to do a certain degree of “acting” when I’m performing. I was also going to pursue musical theatre so I thought I would try to take some private acting lessons to see if it would help. I took about 3 lessons and I hated it!!! I think the thing that bothered me the most was that the teacher gave me something to do and then just sat back and stared at me. I know that shouldn’t bother me considering I sing in front of people all the time and don’t care about that, but I just couldn’t handle this one on one thing! A few of the things I had to do was look in this book of pictures and come up with a description of what was going on in the picture. But the whole time I’m trying to think of something he would just stare at me. And then he would give me a scene and have me go outside the door and come back in and act it out. Ugh! Good thing I decided to become a singer! :slight_smile:

I have a degree in Theater Arts. I had intended to go into acting when I was younger. But I didn’t realize how difficult it actually is.

The hardest part is letting yourself go and exposing raw emotions in front of people. Bad actors pretend to feel whatever emotion their character is feeling. Decent actors do a good job pretending to feel emotion. Good actors actually feel the emotion, although they probably have some measure of control over themselves. Great actors feel the emotion and let it carry them, the same as in real life. The discipline of the craft and the rehearsal process allow them to still carry on with the show, but they are in the moment at that time. To be able to do it night after night, in live theater, or take after take, out of sequence, in films and television, is exceptionally difficult.

I realized I couldn’t make it as a professional actor when I saw a fellow student break through the emotional barrier in class one day. I knew I would never be able to expose myself in such a manner. At that point I was becoming enamored of the way plays were written, anyway, and I began to develop my writing skills instead.

Its a lot of work as those above have mentioned. But not difficult in the way that playing the piano is difficult and requires great skill. Either the audience/camera loves you and you are a success, or not. Just about anyone can memorize and deliver lines. Some people can’t do it smoothly and unself-consciously, but most can with a little practice.

I have done some amatuer acting and can testify that it is difficult work. The more I act, the more I realize that there is an athletic component to the art, even in relatively sedate roles.

Most of the parts I’ve done have required that I act pretty much continuously for two to three hours. With one or two momentary exceptions, intense concentration is required at all times. By the time one is in performance, the lines and gestures are not difficult; the hard part is being two people simultaneously. Some actors will say that they “become the character” but in my experience this is impossible, as you have to be the character while saying precisely the lines scripted and always be peripherally aware of the staging elements.

Because of this, as an amateur, I find Friday night performances nearly impossible. At the end of the week I just don’t have the stamina needed. I know that there a talented/skilled/dedicated people who can, but it is tough.

No it is not hard to learn lines and blocking. It is hard to act, to be a good actor.
I acted very little, I was a stage manager and saw all levels of the craft. Talent is hard to pin down but I know it when I see it. :slight_smile:
It takes a certain kind of person to let the emotions show in the way that communicates the written character to the audience. I can’t do it, no matter how much I rehearsed I will be a rotten actor. But you never know until you try.

The only thing an actor has to do recite lines from memory so they sound like someone taking, not someone reciting.

That’s it.

Not everyone can do it (there are very few things that everyone can do) but I can and so can about half of all the people I’ve ever met. It’s not that tough.

All this stuff about ‘getting into character’ is just silly. Actors talk about doing it to make their work sound more demanding than it is, and acting schools talk about it so they can make money out of aspiring actors. But it’s nonsense. That’s why when Sean Connery plays a Russian submarine captain, for example, he can only play a Russian submarine captain who happens to look, sound, move and behave exactly like Sean Connery. Alan Alda - great actor. Saw him in MASH, obviously, and saw him in the play “Art” in LA. Looked, moved, sounded just the same both times. In other words, he can play any character you want so long as that character happens to look, move and sound just like Alan Alda. You can make up your own examples.

So, no, it’s not hard. If you happen to have that basic knack of sounding like you’re talking instead of reciting, you’re there.

Ianzin Yes there are actors like those you mentioned and there are actors who disapear into their roles like Edward Norton or Christopher Guest. Connery and Alda are stars. That’s different from being an actor.

Acting is difficult. For one thing the idea of public speaking is the number one phobia of people. So the idea of being up on stage in front of an audience is terror to most.

Memorizing lines is difficult for some. It drives me crazy when an actor doesn’t know their lines. Acting is something a lot a people can do on some level. Just like I can run but you won’t see me at the summer olympics.

I guess the answere is acting well is difficult.

IMO, “Can you act?” is not a yes/no question.

Or at least it shouldn’t be. I’m not an actor, but I am a hack musician. Yeah, I can play the tuba, but so can Norm Pearson of the LA Philharmonic. To leave it at that and imply that we’re of more or less equal caliber would be ridiculous. Any artistic endeavor, in which I’d certainly include acting, is similar in nature.

In my relatively limited experience in viewing stage acting at various levels, I’ve come to a (possibly wrong) conclusion. It’s based on what’s seen/heard “out front” rather than whatever goes on in the actor’s head/psyche. Good actors appear natural (they don’t seem to be “acting”) to the layman. Bad ones don’t.

There’s a full spectrum in between, but it seems that making it look natural (to say nothing of compelling/entertaining) up there is a lot harder than a lot of folks give it credit for. Getting the objective mechanics down is necessary but hardly sufficient for a satisfactory performance.

“Hey, I got through all my lines with no stage fright-induced freezes, and I didn’t stutter!” Well, good for you. I hope the audience didn’t leave halfway through if that’s your baseline for success. Many folks can do that. Far fewer can effectively act.

I agree with this. I’m reminded yet again of my piano teacher in college remarking to me after listening to me play a piece, “Wow, you play piano pretty well for not being a piano player.” :frowning:

Needless to say, I didn’t have the “gift” of playing piano although I was able to hit the keys pretty accurately.

IMHO, acting is more difficult than you think.

If it were only a matter of memorizing the lines and then reciting them, there’d be no issue. I can memorize and recite large quantities of prose. I had my lines menorized for our undergrad production of 1776 before anyone else – and I had more lines than most.

But when you act you don’t just recite lines. You act. You have to convey the emotions and sense of that person in your voice. You have to express it through your actions – different people move in different ways, do different things with their hands, look at you different ways with their eyes. People say that the actorbecomes his character, but that’s not quite it. He has to convince the audience that he is that character, and do it with sufficient display to make that clear, yet enough subtlety to avoid being his own parody.

This is not trivial.
I realize it may make me sound like a Trekkie geek, but the best short example I ever saw of this was Ricardo Montalban showing the difference between his character of Khan Nonnan Singh from the Original Series episode and Khan from the second Star Trek movie. He did these characters in about five words, a couple of seconds apart, and you could clearly see and feel the difference, arrogant in the first, burning with righteous rage in the second, yet none of this overt. You try doing that. Then imagine what Olivier can do.

To be honest, I don’t think this is necessarily true at all. You’re describing method acting, acting accomplished by artifically causing oneself to feel the same emotion the character might feel. It’s simply NOT true that all, or necessarily even most, great actors do this. Many excellent actors just pretend. That’s what acting is. As Olivier told Dustin Hoffman, “Son, why don’t you just act?”

Acting is as hard to master as any other art. Acting is both verbal AND physical, so learning lines isn’t nearly enough. There’s a lot of technical things to learn, and it takes a great deal of practice to do them right, and acting in front of a camera is a completely different set of technical skills.

Furthermore, it simply is not true that the object is to act like a real person. The object is to LOOK like you’re acting like a real person, which on stage or on film isn’t the same thing. An actor in a film is doing a lot of things a real person would not do; they’re enunciating their words very clearly, they’re standing on marks, they’re craning their heads to stay in the camera, they’re positioning themselves based on the mise en scene the director wants - they’re doing all kinds of things to create the image on screen, not just acting like ordinary people.

Different parts of acting are difficult in different ways. The nuts and bolts part is technically hard (if you’re lucky enough to have a long role!). When I was acting, I memorized my script by doing this:

• read first line out loud
• read first and second linen out loud
• read first, second and third lines out loud

. . . and so on. Worked for me. As far as being GOOD, that is both learned and a talent you cannot acquire if you don’t have it—like being a good painter or writer. I was an excellent light comedienne, in a Claudette Colbert–Ina Claire sort of way. Unfortunately, light drawing-room comedy was NOT the way to earn a living in the 1970s and '80s, and I was the WORST dramatic actress since Suzy Parker had her mad scene in “The Best of Everything.”

Apply this line of reasoning to Gary Oldman and your take falls apart. See Dracula, The Professional and The Fifth Element, et al.

It really depends on what you consider “acting.” I’ve had roles that were relatively easy, not much depth to the characters. OTOH, some roles are complex, layered and much more difficult. There’s a big difference also between actors you see on t.v who only play one type, and “character actors” who can become anyone. (the Olsen twins vs. Dustin Hoffman).

Anyone can play a stereotype of themselves rather easily, that’s why so many singers, models, etc. seem to be able to make the jump to acting, but they almost always will play a character not too far from their own persona. Good actors study and learn how to grow in their art form. Although it seems like celebrities just show up on a movie set and get rich, most actors have a background in performing schools and started out as stage actors, (which is a good test of a true actor, IMO.) It takes a lot of preparation to be a good actor, (although some are blessed with natural talent) it’s the difference between your local community theatres, who will have some very talented people sometimes, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. There’s no comparison between someone who has been trained and the best untrained actor.

To see a great example of a character actor, watch anything by Anna Deveare Smith (Fires In the Mirror) and you can see the difference between all the people she plays (sometimes it is even hard to recognize her as the same person, and it’s not b/c of makeup.)