There are times when my thought-streams puddle and pool together and I must babble and type them out to free up some mental space in my head. And yes okay now that I’ve written that sentence I realize how weird it sounds…cool. Onward!
Illustrating an actor as a “talking prop” is both infuriatingly belittling verging on disrespectful but also blissfully grounding.
Acting is an art form unto itself and despite what commoners and spectators may think good acting is incredibly difficult to achieve and no you probably could not get off the couch you’ve molded to and do it much less do a better job at it. But the only reason why I don’t get overwhelmingly angry at this nickname is because a) it’s pretty funny and b) it doesn’t mean the actor isn’t important just not as important as some think they are (aka Prima Donnas).
Acting is an art form. As much as people imagine it’s easy it truly is not. There is so much technique, physical, emotional, and psychological work, research, practice, vulnerability, and bravery to acting. But as much of an art is acting so is the technical side of things. The crew aren’t just slaves there to do your bidding. No they are slaving over the behind-the-scenes stuff to cook up their own magic. You are a cog in the machine. I’m sorry, should I say that again? Okay. You are a cog in the machine. You are not the machine itself. Every cog, nut, bolt, and screw in a machine is essential but regardless of how much they need each other some get over-glorified and more credit. It’s like a clock. The pre-production team designs the clock, the actor is the painted face & ornate hands, the crew are the inner workings, and the director winds it up.
You act well, you look good, and you (hopefully) do your research and character work/study. But then the crew show up, they set up the camera angles, the lights, the sound, the costumes, the set. And then the editors get their hands on the footage and tweak here, a color balance there, a sprinkle of pixie dust on top and voila! You look gorgeous and your acting is super pro. The crew make the actors better but without good actors the crew can only (and will only) do so much. It’s a give and take. It’s a team effort.
The movie (or stage play) is NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about the story. And for a movie to tell a successful (and financially satisfying) story it requires everyone to show up, shut up, and do their job (wow I sound so harsh but it’s true). When everyone is working hard, respecting one another, and tossing in some joy, passion, and fun then you can create silver screen magic. If you get too big for your britches and think you’re what’s most important in this movie then you best get out. That goes for basically everyone and applies to both film and theatre.
Like actors I suppose the crew could also suffer from bloated egos but it’s a lot less common because they get very little credit from the world to feed it. The actors are the ones everyone will see and judge and obsess over. The actors are the ones sent out to interviews to endlessly promote the movie. They get no privacy or reprieve from the media and when the whole world keeps clamoring that they’re the reason for the season the more likely they will begin to believe it.
Okay so back to props. Props are important, I mean what kind of sword battle doesn’t have swords?? Okay don’t answer that, but you get the point. So yeah, calling an actor a “talking prop” makes me chuckle. Don’t belittle the acting profession (ugh which is a big thing to ask of people since it’s a career flooded with twerps, wannabes, and drama queens) but as an actor always remember that it’s not about you. It’s about the story.
Everyone has a role to play, a job to do, a piece to contribute and just because your job is the sought out glorified corner-piece to the puzzle doesn’t mean that you’re more important than the wands in Harry Potter (and if you haven’t paid attention or read the whole series then you might not understand just how important wands are to the whole freaking plot – wink wink to my fellow Potterheads).