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It is worse than a crime: it is a mistake.
Joseph Fouche
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Quotes on Acting.

Arranged alphabetically by author.

  • For an actress to be a success she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros.
    • Ethel Barrymore quoted in George Jean Nathan's The Theatre in the fifties
  • ACTOR: A professional exhibitionist who manufactures emotions in a manner convincing enough to earn a living, generally by reciting the daily specials to restaurant patrons.
  • It's not whether you really cry. It's whether the audience thinks you are crying.
  • For the theatre one needs long arms; it is better to have them too long than too short. An artiste with short arms can never, never make a fine gesture.
  • An actor's a guy, who if you ain't talking about him, ain't listening.
  • Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It's a bum's life. Quitting acting, that's the sign of maturity.
    • Marlon Brando, Halliwell's Filmgoer's and Video Viewer's Companion
  • Acting is the least mysterious of all crafts. Whenever we want something from somebody or when we want to hide something or pretend, we're acting. Most people do it all day long.
  • To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it his dedication.
  • The principal benefit acting has afforded me is the money to pay for my psychoanalysis.
  • You can sit there and have a universal experience, of fear, of anger, of tears, of love, and I discovered that its the audience, really, that is doing the acting.
  • If there's anything unsettling to the stomach, it's watching actors on television talk about their personal lives.
  • An actor is at most a poet and at least an entertainer.
  • If you're successful, acting is about as soft a job as anybody could ever wish for. But if you unsuccessful it's worse than having a skin disease.
  • If a studio offered to pay me as much to sweep the floor as it did to act, I'd sweep the floor. There isn't anything that pays you as well as acting while you decide what the hell you're going to do with yourself. Who cares about the applause? Do I need applause to feel good about myself?
  • The close-up says everything, it's then that an actor's learned, rehearsed behavior becomes most obvious to an audience and chips away, unconsciously, at its experience of reality. In a close-up, the audience is only inches away, and your face becomes the stage.
  • When an actor has money he doesn't send letters, he sends telegrams.
  • Pray to God and say the lines.
    • Bette Davis, Advice to the actress Celeste Holm. Attrib.
  • I do not regret one professional enemy I have made. Any actor who doesn't dare to make an enemy should get out of the business.
  • Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.
  • [T]he question actors most often get asked is how they can bear saying the same things over and over again night after night, but God knows the answer to that is, don't we all anyway; might as well get paid for it.
  • Unlike writers or painters, we don't sit down in front of a blank canvas and say, 'How do I start? Where do I start?' We're given the springboard of the text, a plane ticket, told to report to Alabama, and there's a group of people all ready to make a film and it's a marvelous life.
  • Acting is frivolous, but frivolity is a big part of our society; so we might as well relax and enjoy it.
  • It is easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor.
  • If there wasn't something called acting they would probably hospitalize people like me. The giddiness and the joy of life is the moving and grooving, the exploration.
  • You're an actor, are you? Well, all that means is: you are irresponsible, irrational, romantic, and incapable of handling an adult emotion or a universal concept without first reducing it to something personal, material, sensational — and probably sexual!
  • All actors are cattle. Actually, all actors are not cattle, but should be treated as such.
  • When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, But what's my motivation?, I say, 'Your salary.'
  • Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, actors!
  • Movie actors are just ordinary mixed-up people -- with agents.
  • An actor onstage can no more act upon the order 'Be happy' than she can upon the order 'Do not think of a hippopotamus.'
  • By the time an actor knows how to act any sort of part he is often too old to act any but a few.
  • Acting is therefore the lowest of the arts, if it is an art at all.
  • We used to have actresses trying to become stars; now we have stars trying to become actresses.
  • Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express emotion.
  • In music, the punctuation is absolutely strict, the bars and rests are absolutely defined. But our punctuation cannot be quite strict, because we have to relate it to the audience. In other words we are continually changing the score.
  • The art of acting consists in keeping people from coughing.
  • An actress must never lose her ego — without it she has no talent.
  • Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him.
  • Every now and then, when you're onstage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live.

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