Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"And above all, don't act!"

Some encouragement, criticisms, & suggestions about acting from director Charlie Chaplin:
Remember, they're peeking at you.
Don't lay an egg.
Make it simple. Make it sincere. All this lousy singsong. I loathe that singsong. It hurts me.
Break through.
Don't give the audience the impression you've just read the script. It's phony now. We don't talk that way. Just state it. Don't make it weary....We don't want acting. We want reality. This will be maudlin as hell if you act. 

Only use your hands when you want to make a point--that's when it becomes effective.
[Speaking to the player of a villain's part] I don't want any of the conventional business of the usual cinema traitor. Just get yourself used to the idea that you're a rascal who isn't an out and out bad one, but simply hasn't got any moral sense. Don't put on a savage look. And above all, don't act!

Too many gestures are creeping in. I don't like that. If the audience notices a gesture, you're gone.
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Because when you make a mistake, they love you.
Trying to make you act is like writing love letters on butcher paper.

Sources: Lillian Ross, Moments With Chaplin; Dawn Addams, Films & Filming, 1957; Louis Delluc, Charlie Chaplin; Adolphe Menjou, It Took Nine Tailors; Jerry Epstein, Remembering Charlie; Harry Carr, Motion Picture Magazine, 1925


  1. 'don't lay an egg!' -- i'll put this on a coffee mug!!! this is just too good to pass up. i've heard of all the other ones, but this is new to me. XD