Method Acting for Life

Back in my young days, I took an acting class taught by Mr. Rudy Solari. He was best known as a character actor appearing in many television shows such as Star Trek, Quincy M.E., Mission Impossible, and many others. However, he was also known in Hollywood as a gifted acting coach and teacher.

I took his classes to improve my ability to speak in public and was also learning a great deal about life as Rudy was also a wonderful life teacher.  Our class was the intermediate scene study class and a new student had recently joined. Normally one had to take the beginning class then graduate to the intermediate class. This was method acting and the foundation was important.  However, this new student (we can call him Phil) had already been cast in a couple of commercials and a few bit parts on television shows, so he was allowed to join the intermediate.

When it came time for Phil to give his scene performance, he delivered one of the most painfully awkward attempts in the history of our class. He over acted using every trope he could squeeze in. Large gestures and overblown attempts at emotion, it was torture to watch. We waited for the end expecting Rudy to really launch into this guy for his lack of authenticity and fake acting.

Rudy approached Phil and asked, “what part of that scene did you feel your best?” Phil answered, “I guess it would be somewhere about the middle.”  “Exactly!” shouted Rudy. Now what I want you to do is over the next week rehearse this scene but try to find the truth a bit earlier and hold on to it a bit longer.  We were stunned. He showed us an attempt to not shame a human being but rather help him find his own truth.

The next week Phil had done exactly as Rudy had instructed and did the same awful acting job as before but this time he did indeed capture that middle part a bit earlier and hold onto it a bit longer.  Each week he got better until he nailed that scene so well he could have been nominated for an academy award! Rudy had drawn out of this seemingly hopeless actor and superb performance.

The lessons I learned from Mr. Rudy Solari over the years continue to affect me to this day.  The surface is rarely the truth, lying just below is incredible depth and talent. Careful to judge someone at first glance, you never know what they may be hiding. Give people a chance and they might surprise you. And most important of all, most of us could use a really good acting coach to pull the very best performance out of us.  

The lesson I learned from Rudy was; Method acting is about finding the truth to play the character.  However, character is about finding your inner truth. Thriving is about living a generous life filled with wonder and amazement. And many times we could use a coach, a teacher, a mentor, a therapist, a clergy member, or even a wise family member to help us reach our best.