Musing on vulnerability (OR What I learned from Chris Hemsworth about Acting)

When I decided to nudge my career along a different path at the start of this year and focus more on acting than music theatre, I began to go to as many workshops as I could with Casting Directors for film & TV. As an actor, the CD can be your greatest ally or your biggest door to crack open when it comes to getting work. They’re the first step on the path to getting booked, the people in charge of collating the hundreds of people suitable for a job and culling that list down to the final few to present to the creative team. I’ve found that as a rule, they are lovely, supportive, crazily hard working people and they deserve every ounce of credit they get. 

After a few of these workshops, I started to see a trend in the feedback I was receiving-

“What a strong performance”

“You were really in control”

What I was hearing was – I was too ‘theatre’, I had planned out too much of my performance, I was too ‘in control’.

I wasn’t allowing myself to be vulnerable enough.

Vulnerability is such a great asset on screen. And I think in life, too. Vulnerability, it’s the heart of the truth of who we are. The vulnerability of you doubting something, it’s usually based around a fear of showing who you truly really are. You put on some sort of bravado or mask or something – Chris Hemsworth

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Vulnerability is hard! It’s hard as a person, and it’s hard as an actor. I don’t want to let down my guard and reveal anything. I definitely don’t want to admit that I have doubts about something, or if my mental state is less than great. And maybe that’s what makes vulnerability so powerful.

As a human, it can feel necessary to build up an armour to protect ourselves from anything that might try to derail us. As an actor, it’s easier to feel confident if I’ve planned out every second of the audition I’m about to give. But is it really better?

Is it better not to admit when something is hurting us, and we need help? Or to tuck away our laughter rather than expose crooked teeth, double chins, or the way a snort can sometimes sneak in? (or maybe that’s just me).

It has been terrifying for me as an actor to leave my performance open and vulnerable to what could happen -terrifying, and much, much more interesting. My performances are no longer described as ‘strong’ or ‘in control’. I’m ‘interesting’ and ‘very talented’ (this one still makes my stomach flip, thanks amazingly generous CD). I can listen and react like a real person, and weirdly, if something goes wrong that’s okay. I was open. I gave it my all. I was humanDon’t you want to try it?


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Musing on vulnerability (OR What I learned from Chris Hemsworth about Acting)

Gratuitous Gratitude Time

I’ve been doing some writing recently for a great little startup that involved creating a series of emails to guide their customers through a very basic mindfulness practice. The most recent dispatch introduced the idea of gratitude and the importance of acknowledging the great things in life as you look back (or forward) over the day. It was only as I sat down to write this post that I realised that’s not something I’ve been practicing regularly in my own life! So here they are, the three things I’m grateful for today:

  1. That the $13 I have left in my wallet to last the weekend just means that I’m sticking to my budget and watching my savings grow
  2. That I can afford to rent my beautiful little apartment to share with my sassy little fluffball and no-one else (introverts unite!). It’s been 18 months now and I still get an overwhelming sense of peace every time I put my key in the front door.
  3. That I have a week in Tasmania coming up with a bunch of amazing girls! Two weeks to go until whiskey tours, endless cheese and late nights around a fire with the best company a gal could ask for.

You know what? It felt really great to write that list! I think it’s so easy to get swept up in what I still need to achieve, that it’s nice to sit back and look at what I’ve already got.

What are you grateful for this week? Let me know in the comments below!

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Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

 

 

Gratuitous Gratitude Time

Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

While enjoying my morning routine of interwebs and procrastination – yes, I know I’m trying to cut down, but sometimes a gal has a moment of weakness and that moment is every morning ever.

Anyway, while browsing I came across this fun nugget of trivia that I’m sure everyone but me has probably already stumbled across. Apparently Kingofthebritishgentlemen Tom Hiddleston originally wanted to audition for the role of Thor in the Marvel Universe.

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Oh, darling

According to rumours, he actually got close to the final audition rounds before director/Shakespeare God Kenneth Branagh pulled him aside to gently break the news that they weren’t going to be offering him the part-

“Ken told me that every actor has something for free. Jack Nicholson has an irreverence for free, Anthony Hopkins has a majesty and gravitas for free. Idris Elba, who plays Heimdall in Thor – and, by the way, anyone who’s been complaining about a black actor being cast as a Norse god is just crazy; this is a fantasy world, for goodness sake – has a watchful gravitas for free. He explained that what I have for free is that I can’t turn off my intelligence. Therefore Loki would be much more up my street.”

How cool is that thought? That there’s some trait that’s so inherently you, that it’s just suffused into every role you’ll ever play- no need to work for it, it’s always just there. And the more I think of it, the more I can list actors and their ‘freebies’. Morgan Freeman has that playful God vibe, Helen Mirran (my queen) has that edge of ‘don’t mess with me bitch’- And Hugh Grant? Floppy fringe. I don’t think he can act without it

Acting world aside, I got to thinking of my own Freebie in the real world- the part of my personality that is just waiting to burst out. I would say that mine is enthusiasm. Push the right buttons and I will gush at a hundred words a minute about something I’m passionate about (you don’t want to be near me when you’re complaining about an unexpected bill, or how you don’t have any savings). The same will happen if anyone even breathes about a theatre piece I love, or some passing obsession that I currently have. It’s like my brain is wired to thrive on that endorphin kick I get from being ridiculously over-excited about anything.

I think I look like this…

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But I really look like this…

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For so long I’ve spent time apologising for my random outbursts, or trying to pretend that I am waaaay cooler than I actually am by moderating my responses (sound familiar?).

Recently I’ve started to wonder if maybe it isn’t just better to embrace that side of myself. And if I come off a little manic (and maybe a little ax-murdery, as has been mentioned in the past) then phooey- playing a serial killer is definitely on my to-do list anyway.

And if I know what makes me a little more ‘me’, then maybe that will help me pinpoint when I’m losing myself a little. If I can’t be bothered to muster a kitten scratch or a suggestion than an actor should roll their fifteen super funds into one account, then something is wrong in my life and I need to identify it. Because not having the time to scratch a kitten? Definitely not me.

So what would your freebie be? Is it something that you’re happy to indulge in, or something that only your nearest & dearest get to see? Maybe you have the dryest sense of humour, or you can’t help working to turn any room you walk into into a place of calm. Maybe you don’t even know what yours is yet (Hiddles clearly needed some help). Or am I raving (with enthusiasm) on a topic that isn’t really applicable in the real world?

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Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)