Ask Alexandra – April 2005
Do you think that someone with no acting ability can be taught to act and become good at it, or do you think that it is an innate talent you must already posses? –Denise R.
I think that the incredible talent of someone like Sean Penn (my favorite actor) is innate, but I do think acting can be taught. You need to have some skillsets, because acting onscreen is unnatural. Among other things, we shoot out of sequence, and in a closeup we have a huge camera inches from our face with another actor hunched next to it delivering lines. There are at least a dozen people in the room with you who are not part of the onscreen scene. The challenge is to be natural! Acting class is a lot about how to be as real and human as possible when a makeup artist is hovering every 5 seconds to spray your hair into place, the sound guy has told you to speak louder even though the scene is very intimate, the lighting person has told you not to lean more than an inch to your right, and you can see the ugly, red shirt of the camera assistant in your periphery.
They say that humans only use 10% of their potential, so I do believe that people who think they “could never act” underestimate themselves. Being willing, being courageous and being open are 3 traits that are important to being an actor. After that, study and practice can make you excellent.
I would just like to know what movies you’ve seen recently. Also who, in your opinion, is the most underrated actor/actress these days?
Thanks for sharing your talent with us and for being so kind in replying to all these questions.
Ian’s coaching partner gave us Netflix for Christmas, so I have recently watched the documentaries “Some Kind of Monster” (following the band Metallica and the making of their last album) and “Word Wars” (about 4 contestants in the National Scrabble Championships). Both were interesting as I learned to worlds with which I was not familiar, but I preferred “Rivers and Tides” (following the artist Andrew Goldsworthy and his work) and “Spellbound” (about 7 Spelling Bee contestants). I haven’t been out to the cinema in at least a month! My favorite film of last year was “Closer” – so human and messy, and the performances were terrific.
An actor I really like is the British actor Mark Rylance, who starred in a wonderful, gritty, sexy film called “Intimacy” and a period piece called “Angels and Insects”.
Thank you for writing!
What was it like working on Melrose Place? Did cat fights really happen on the set, as the media portrayed?
Oh dear, is that how the media portrayed it? I never saw any evidence of that at all! Everyone seemed very comfortable with each other and not at all competitive. I was on at the very end of the decade run of the show, but I had a very close friend on for 4 years and she never encountered any of that either. Heather Locklear has a reputation of being exceptionally nice, so I cant see how it would happen on that set. Don’t believe what you read in the media, that is for sure! On the Baywatch set, which had even more women, there was never any animosity between anyone. All that stuff is just the magazines trying to sell magazines…
I had a very nice experience on Melrose Place. Everyone was very professional, and it was nice seeing Jack Wagner again, after I had starred in a the tv movie “Echo” with him. We, unfortunately, had no MP scenes together, but I would see him in the makeup trailer. Melrose often shot 2 shows at the same time (!) so you could cross paths with an actor every day and they would be shooting an entirely different episode.