Friday, February 24, 2012
Geoffrey Rush has a peculiarly large head.
Not in ego terms. This is purely literal.
Last weekend, I attended a day of film seminars, from established and successful filmmakers, called 'Tropfest Roughcut'.
During a talk from a director who's debut feature film opened at Sundance this year, I heard someone whispering to someone else, on my right, with a voice that seemed oddly familiar.
I looked over and realised I was sitting directly across the aisle from Mr Rush.
I played it cool. I mean, how often do you sit next to an Oscar winner?
When I stole a glance the second time, I noticed it.
It was HUGE. Like a caricature.
And I remembered something from an episode of the TV Series 'Entourage' on this very subject. One of the characters in Entourage claims "the bigger the head, the bigger the star".
The simple logic of this statement is that a bigger head means an easier to perceive performance on camera and therefore bigger film industry success. Fairly straightforward, really.
It's funny how often, in the film world, the best answer is often the simplest.
So, you need to capture an actor's facial performance better? Find an actor with a bigger head!
Mr Rush actually illuminated this point on simplicity best when he spoke on stage. He was asked about acting, with a special focus on the difference between comedic and dramatic acting. He stood up and played out a brief scene. A man comes into the room and answers the telephone with a straight/slightly concerned face.
"Hello? Yes? Oh I see. Yes. I'll be right there."
The very essence of dramatic acting.
"And how to do comedy acting then?", Mr Rush was asked.
His answer was a perfect example of keeping it simple. He said:
"Well, you do exactly the same thing, but you do it with your eyebrows raised."
Then he played the whole scene again with his eyebrows raised. And it was funny. Somehow, that simple act made it funny.
For filmmakers, creatives and the general population, Mr Rush's performance demonstrates sage advice. We often make simple things far too complicated, especially in a script or film. In truth, however, it is the small simple moments (a frown, a smile, a raised eyebrow) that are often the the things we remember most, and the difference between a film we know and a film we love.
It is a principle that is definitely worth carrying into your film, script, book, painting, song, etc etc etc.
People may disagree with Mr Rush's simple 'raised eyebrow' acting advice, but it's hard to argue with an Oscar winner.
Even if he does have a freakishly large cranium.
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