So why acting?

I could give you a simple, non-answer like, "It's fun." Or "I like pretending." Or "Why not?"

But let's get real.

My interest in acting has always been rooted in my interest in psychology and the human condition.

Why are people the way they are?
Why do they behave the way they behave?
Why do they make the choices they make?

Questions around identity... (What would it be like to be you? How do you see the world? Why are you the way you are? And how are we wired differently?) -

transformation (Are we the story that we tell ourselves? To what extent are we a collection of habits - the way we think/speak/feel/walk/behave..? How is the self permanent, and how is it malleable? And is it possible to break the habit of being yourself? Can people change? Can we intentionally evolve?)

truth and authenticity (what does it mean and what does it feel like to speak from a place of honesty and truth? And what is it to step into someone else's truth, and see the world through their eyes?)

creativity (What does it mean to be in a creative flow? How can we use divergent thinking to shake up our thought process and see things from alternate perspectives?)

presence (What is "being present?" Does it mean to "not be in our heads" and preoccupied with ideas? Is it to be "dropped into one's body" - aware of one's senses, alert to one's surroundings, and not thinking about the future or the past but being present in the immediacy of the moment? And how do we get there?)

perspective (We all see and experience the world through a unique lens, but where does that lens come from? Can it be altered? And how?)

To me, perspective is everything. It shapes our own unique experience of the world. And there are few things more interesting to me as a storyteller. It's why I love films like The Last Duel, Gone Girl, and even Tucker & Dale vs Evil - because they point to an aspect of life that is too rarely acknowledged: we all perceive things differently. We all live in very different experiences of reality, according to our own views/ beliefs/ experiences/ biases/ perceptions/ etc.

And films & plays have the ability to shift perspectives by presenting perspectives the viewer may have never considered. In this, we can become aware of possible biases, or open up our way of seeing.

These are things I was pondering long before I started acting, and would still be asking if I stopped acting.

I'm endlessly fascinated by - and curious about - the experience of being human.
And acting, for me, has always been a natural way of exploring these questions.

Every character - like every human - is uniquely specific. And each is different from me (or my general experience of being me): We have different lives, different personality types, different perspectives, different outlooks, different trauma, different wants, goals, needs, quirks, phobias...
We care about different things. We make different choices. We navigate life differently.

What would it be like to be you? To stand in your shoes?

My experience of being "me" in the world has always been quite different from my experience of being every character I've ever played.
More often than not, I wouldn't do what they do - and wouldn't be affected the way they're affected.

My job as an actor - as I see it - is to go beyond my own experience of self and open myself to the experience of being someone else.

It's experiential self-transcendence.

But not to the exclusion of what makes me playing the role different from another actor playing the role. Things about the actor will always, inevitably seep through - as it should be. Even though we step into someone else's shoes, we're also - on some level - sharing our own truth... which is something we're all here to do.

light that animates a character must first pass through the prism of the actor themselves. And so the truth & essence of the actor is also shared in the process.

My interpretations, choices, and instincts will always be unique to me, and will make a character different from another actor playing that character.

Secondly, I'm also endlessly interested in the craft, which asks the central question: How do I bring this person - who is not me - to life, so that everyone believes they are me - in order to tell a story?
And how do I do that while accounting for all of the technical requirements of the stage and screen.

And Im endlessly curious about how to do that "better" than I did it before. If I could go back, I'd play a lot of roles differently - because I know things now, I didnt know then. And so I'm driven by the challenge underlying the craft, and that learning never stops.

And thirdly - and more important that my own intellectual interest in the human experience and the craft of being an actor - what really compels me to act, is my desire to tell stories; stories to be shared with an audience.

Stories are an important part of the human experience.
Why do we read books? Why do we watch movies and TV?
Why do we become enthralled when other people tell us stories from their lives?

We do it to be entertained. We do it to escape. We do it because it broadens our experience of life.

We do it to feel connected, and not feel alone.
And sometimes we do it to gain perspective into our own lives- and our own experience of being alive.

How do I navigate this part of my life? Or this relationship? Or this challenge? Or these questions?

To watch a film or a play is to be a witness to someone else's story; a story we can potentially draw from and find application in our own lives.

"I'm not the same person I was one movie ago."

And certainly, I could give you a long list of films and plays that have had a profound impact on me as a person... where I walked out feeling differently, or seeing differently... or where I
felt seen, and less alone.

Movies and plays - along with other art forms - are not just a reflection of society; they also have the ability to move and shape society, by opening, altering and broadening perspectives.
They add to the conversation of who we are, where we came from, and where we're going.

So devoting my life to telling those stories, just seems like a life worth living.

But even that isn't the full answer to the question "why acting?"

The answer also includes the simple fact that once upon a time I was relatively poor kid growing up on a farm outside a small town... and looked out into the future and thought to myself: "I'd love to be an actor....but I dont even know if that's possible."

And my journey ever since, has been a journey to see
what's possible.

As Paolo Coelho once said, "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
If nothing else, it makes for an adventure -

But the simplest answer I could give you, is that acting for me just feels like home.

There's something about being someone else, that makes me feel like I'm being myself.

And plus: we could also all use a little entertainment.....

A few of the films that have had a lasting impact on me as a person:

  • Into the Wild

  • American Beauty

  • Fight Club

  • The Thin Red Line

  • Mr. Nobody

  • Run Lola Run

  • Nine Days

  • A Beautiful Mind

  • My Dinner With Andre

  • Waking Life

  • Before Sunrise / Sunset

  • Tree of Life

  • Patch Adams

  • Slumdog Millionaire

  • The Green Mile

  • The Matrix

  • It's a Wonderful Life

  • The Book of Eli

  • The World's Fastest Indian

  • Garden State

  • Dead Poet's Society

  • Life is Beautiful

  • Good Will Hunting

gray concrete wall inside building
gray concrete wall inside building