December 28, 2021
- By Kyle Secor
“When he talked about my part, I never understood a word he said. To this day…I suspect he was deliberately vague; he did it by keeping you off-balance…so you couldn’t protect yourself, so you couldn’t use the techniques you were used to using.” - Peter Falk on John Cassavetes
Peter Falk, 'at a loss' as the cameras began rolling during a scene with JC, zoned out. A nose came into his view and apparently the scene became about him exploring John Cassavetes nose.
Entertain the idea that there are no deep dives. No digging into your psyche, your emotions, or your history. No focusing on an action or an objective or putting your attention on another actor, or any number of other techniques or processes to reach somewhere, or have a full experience, or ‘make a scene work’.
Only apparently so. There is only, just what’s happening. Just this, is whole and complete as it is.
Many artists apparently feel the need to learn, explore, collaborate, clarify, and grow as we progress on the timeline of a path or career. There is nothing good or bad, right or wrong with that.
However, if there is no controlling 'ghost in the works', so to speak, then this apparent need to learn, explore or grow may be...what?
There is just this — timeless, placeless, intention-less…creating.
Meaningless, may be another word, as the 'ghost in the works' is the one apparently supplying any meaning.
For some, this may seem outrageous, complete bullshit. For others perhaps, a release of some contraction, or a sense of freedom.
If there is ‘digging into your psyche’ for a role or scene, then that’s what’s apparently happening. If it’s using ‘sensory recall’ or a thousand other techniques to engage the character, that’s whats happening.
Either way, Peter Falk disappearing into the landscape of Cassavetes magnificent nose during a scene from Mikey and Nicky, is brilliant, without thought or meaning, and deep as hell.
No one actually does it, and no one intended it - as it is nothing appearing as everything, but for no one.
An Unaware Actor. Not a term most actors would want applied to them. However... This is another way of saying there is no me. If there’s an actor, or a me, there will be an apparent sense of awareness. Of here-ness...
A young actor asked me about something they read online which encourages actors to cultivate awareness so they can sense when they are falling into old habits...
“This is no joke. This is the last instant of your life!! Hit the stage NAKED right now!!” That was the surreal internal direction I apparently remember having had each night before being pushed onstage, bare-assed, for apparently 30+ performances of Shawshank Redemption in Edinburgh and Dublin in 2013. No turning back. Drop your pants and step into the lights. But, what I didn’t realize is; the pants had dropped long ago...