Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ian McKellan says...

'How do I act so well? What I do is, I pretend to be the person I'm portraying in the film or play. You're confused. No, it's very simple, case in point. Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson comes from New Zealand, and says to me, Sir Ian, I want you to be Galdalf the Wizard, and I say to him, You are aware that I am not really a wizard. And he said, yes, I'm aware of that, what I want you to do is to use your acting skills to portray the wizard, for the duration of the film. So I said, okay, and then I said to myself, Hmm, how would I do that? And this is what I did. I imagined what it would be like to be a wizard, and then I pretended, and acted in that way, on the day. And how did I know what to say? The words were written down for me in a script. How did I know where to stand? People told me. If we were to draw a graph of my process, of my method: Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Action, Wizard, You Shall Not Pass!, Cut, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian. You see? Now you would be pretending to be John in this play, and, how would you know what to say? Well, the words would be in the script. And you would learn the words, you will not have the script on the night, and that goes for everybody, there will be no scripts on the night. You learn the words! You will receive them as if you were saying them for the first time. Because if you did have the script, it would break the illusion, and the whole thing is illusion, do you see, you are not really John. You are pretending. And acting.'

Ian McKellan (playing himself, 'Sir Ian McKellan', scene written by Ricky Gervais and Ian McKellan, Extras, 2006)

Note: This is my favourite thing that Ian McKellan has ever done. I never truly understood the craft of acting until he laid it out for me so clearly. As far as fake wisdom goes, this is perfect.

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