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10 Acting Tips From Established Performers

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner//Getty Images
Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner//Getty Images

Hey there, fellow aspiring actors! Ever wondered what tips seasoned performers swear by to nail their roles and captivate audiences? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve rounded up advice straight from the pros themselves. So, why not soak up some wisdom from the best in the biz!

Discover the Joy – Jonathan Groff

As “Looking” debuted in January, Groff conversed with the magazine that kickstarted his career (“I have faith in Backstage. It transformed my life.”). Amidst the HBO series and his part in Disney’s blockbuster “Frozen,” the actor has unearthed abundant opportunities to perform fueled by sheer delight. “People draw inspiration from different wells,” he remarked on his creative process. “Some thrive on turmoil, others on bliss. And when I’m transported back to being a 5-year-old in my backyard, lost in make-believe, that’s when I’m truly content.”

Embrace Study – Keith David of “Enlisted”

The esteemed voiceover maestro shared with Backstage in January that “voice acting is still acting.” In a comprehensive interview, David stressed the significance of studying theater as a cornerstone for actors. “Delve into theater because it’s the finest training ground available,” he advocated. “While some excel on screen without a theater background, it all hinges on your preparation. Natural instincts are a boon, but they require refinement.”

Cast Aside Concerns – Insights from Michaela Watkins of “Trophy Wife”

“[Auditioning is] akin to teenage dating,” Watkins quipped to Backstage in February. “You invest so much energy pondering their thoughts. Truth is, they’re not dwelling on you.” With casting experience under her belt, Watkins confirms this firsthand. “All you desire is someone who solves your puzzle. They may be exceptional, but if they don’t solve your puzzle, you bid them adieu.”

Dare to Fail, Discover Truth – Lupita Nyong’o

Amidst the whirlwind of awards season, the “12 Years a Slave” luminary conversed with Backstage about gracefully embracing failure, her journey at the Yale School of Drama, and collaborating with director Steve McQueen on her Oscar-winning role. “As actors, we become adept at starting afresh,” Nyong’o reflected. “Each role brings forth ignorance and insecurity, demanding a curious and humble approach. I’m always apprehensive. Regardless of experience, I remind myself it’s because I care. Steve’s mantra was, ‘Fail, then fail better!’ That atmosphere was incredibly freeing. It’s not about perfection; it’s about authenticity.”

Uphold Your Aspirations—No Matter How Grand – James Wolk of “Mad Men”

During his time at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, casting directors warned of the industry’s challenges. Wolk shared with Backstage that his unwavering belief in a different outcome propelled him forward. “That uninformed optimism is pivotal—otherwise, who’d pursue acting? But if you believe, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it? Because if you don’t believe, it definitely won’t happen.”

Relax in Auditions – Insights from Sam Rockwell

In a chat with Backstage, seasoned screen presence Rockwell touched on stereotypes, prioritizing craft over networking, and advice for acting hopefuls: “Don’t aim to secure the role. Simply enter, enjoy yourself, and present your interpretation. This is my offering. If you’re interested, great. Have adjustments? I’m open. But this is fundamentally what I bring. It’s a ‘whatever’ attitude. Not dismissive, but carefree.”

Trust Your Director – Wisdom from James Franco

Tackling Broadway in “Of Mice and Men,” the multifaceted Franco emphasized to Backstage the importance of aligning with a director’s vision. “When shaping a character, it’s a collaborative effort with the director,” he asserted. “I view it as much their creation as mine. And I credit directors generously: if I deliver a strong performance, at least 50 percent of the credit goes to them. Collaboration is the essence of our craft.”

Auditions as Rehearsals – Comedic Insights from Amy Schumer

With experience on both sides of the audition table, the creator-star of “Inside Amy Schumer” understands what makes a lasting impression. She disclosed to Backstage that when casting her show, she seeks performers committed to authentic delivery, a principle she incorporates into her own approach. “I approach auditions as rehearsals,” she shared. “I act as though I already possess the role, treating it as a rehearsal session.”

Pursue Passion – Advice from Derek Hough

The “Dancing with the Stars” alum stressed the importance of genuine passion in one’s pursuits. “Be honest with yourself and don’t gravitate towards what’s popular or earns respect,” he advised. “Ask yourself the right questions, and you’ll receive meaningful answers.”

Embrace Experience – Insights from Patrick Stewart

With decades of stage and screen expertise, Stewart shared personal revelations during the filming of “Match,” notably regarding his father. “I believed I understood him,” he reflected. “How mistaken I was. Such realizations captivate me now. An actor’s journey is enriched by every experience. None are wasted.”

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