PolitFlix 6: The Madness and the Method.
James is joined by what Richard Curtis rom-coms might call ‘An American girl’. Jennifer Doctorovich has seen it all: hurricanes, the rise of Trump, method acting and movies varying from the great to the terrible. She’s therefore an ideal podcasting guest to talk politics, movies and righting the wrongs of the world.
Relevance /Context? Politics and Film, intertwined. Acting is activism, by its very nature. The finest and most prominent actors frequently champion a cause and harness the good will from stage and screen to propel the awareness further. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it fails. And often, sadly, it is misinterpreted.
Star quality is subjective. But GREAT acting? It’s an almost objective and empirical science. And the ‘method’ process favored by DeNiro /Pacino (soon to reunite for NetFlix drama The Irishman), Daniel Day Lewis and many other greats, redefined the craft.
From Thespus to Garrick to modern method: What makes a ‘good’ actor take the next step to become truly ‘GREAT’?
There is still a place for the old heightened, theatrical, Shakespearean orthodoxy, though. ‘Haven’t you tried acting, dear boy?’: yes, that old story, where Laurence Olivier teased Dustin Hoffman, after Hoffman admitted to a self imposed regime of sleep deprivation, to simulate his character’s own onscreen torture.
And the best actors of all? POLITICIANS! Politics is perhaps the ultimate form of Theatre. President Reagan was an actor before he got into politics. Tony Blair was a natural actor but happened to play a ten year role as British Prime Minister. Politics is Theatre and vice versa. You get it.
From JFK to Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama and yes..Trump: all have something in common. They can play a crowd, a room and thereby win attention, votes and power. The ideology is almost irrelevant. Almost.
So: join us as we explore the acting craft and discern the ‘good’ actor from the ‘great’. Also: Hurricanes. Kingsman. Dialect Coaching Rebecca DeMornay and William H Macy. Michael Keaton. Jack Nicholson. Batman. Wonder Woman. Kevin Spacey. Harrison Ford. Will Poulter. John Boyega. Ken Branagh and Shakespeare on Film. David Mamet. Gene Hackman. Julianne Moore. Emma Thompson. Heath Ledger. John Cleese. Connie Booth. Fawlty Towers. Racism. Writing. Political Correctness. Could Charlize Theron or Nicole Kidman be a Bond Girl? And the usual. And more.
Just click below and listen. ‘Enjoy’.
Post-Script Show Notes:
James Murphy is Editor in Chief at Movie Viral
Jennifer Doctorovich is a Theatre actress and former dialect coach. Currently an athletic trainer and nutritional therapist. Background as a producer in NYC, worked with Genesius Guild starring Austin Pendleton. Veteran of film, commercials, Industrials and classically trained with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.
Method Acting is a discipline whereby the actor explores their character in a truly immersive manner. That sometimes extends to extreme tactics, such as staying ‘in character’ when the camera stops or curtain falls. Physical as well as psychological transformations are pervasive and core to the discipline.
Method is synonymous with Stanislavski: a character teacher. Stella Adler broke off to form a group based on her own technique. Stella eventually began Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Lee Strasberg was a founder of ‘the method’. Obviously, he is the most famous as his method is most beloved by film actors. Notice: he turns up in Godfather 2..starring…Yep: Pacino and DeNiro!
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro first appeared in the same film with Coppola’s masterpiece, Godfather Part 2. It is the greatest sequel of all time, in part, because it is also a prequel. But the two actors do not meet onscreen in that film, instead, waiting until Michael Mann’s crime thriller, HEAT (1996). They will reunite for Director Martin Scorsese with NetFlix’s The Irishman, where they will be joined by Joe Pesci.
Daniel Day Lewis is perhaps the greatest actor of all time. Multiple awards attest to that. A chameleon, different in EVERY role he inhabits, completely. Greatest hits include My Left Foot, There will be Blood, Gangs of New York, Last of the Mohicans and Lincoln.
Heath Ledger sadly died in early 2008, just after completing his own acting masterpiece, as the Joker in The Dark Knight. He was awarded a posthumous Oscar for his efforts, having constructed perhaps the definitive onscreen villain.
Jack Nicholson also played Joker, opposite Michael Keaton (another consummate actor), in 1989’s BATMAN (directed by Tim Burton). Jack is a rare mix of both great actor and movie star, whose gestures are recognisable, instantly: much imitated, never matched. Yet he also conveyed character, brilliantly, winning Oscars for roles including Melvin in As Good as it Gets. Whist he appears to have retired, aged 80, hope springs eternal for THAT script /role that might lure Jack back one more time at least.
House of Cards was a British political drama on BBC in the 1990s. It ran for 3 series and focused on a Machiavellian mastermind, Francis Urqhart, played by the late, great Ian Richardson. Characterised by breaking the third wall and our hero/villain, Francis, telling the audience of his nefarious schemes as he played his enemies against each other to win and then consolidate power. Created by Michael Dobbs, the format was reinvented in 2013 for NetFlix, with the action transferred to the White House, and the great Kevin Spacey playing Frank Underwood. Series 5 streamed this year.
Rebecca De Mornay is quite simply one of THE sexiest femme fatales to grace the screen, in films including Risky Business and Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Rebecca is a versatile actress, with impeccable comic timing and even showed up for a cameo in American Pie: Reunion.
William H Macy is a stage and screen actor /director. A face and name you will know, whether you prefer worthy arthouse or big budget blockbuster Hollywood product. He has been in everything from Air Force One to Jurassic Park 3, Fargo and Shameless (also a US based remake of a UK tv show).
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE is now on general release.
PoliFlix will return