Daily Dojo

Nothing Is Actor-Proof . . .

Lee Golberg has a great post up called What a Difference Acting Ability Makes and essentially it’s about a pilot Micheal Mann wrote called LA TAKEDOWN that didn’t get picked up.

But Mann liked the idea and in particular one scene, which would later end up in his film HEAT . . . yes, the famous scene between Pacino and De Niro . . . it’s almost the same, watch them.

Here it is with the TV actors:

And here is Bob and Al:

Watch them and be amazed at how bad the first scene seems, and how awesome the second is.

It shows you, nothing is actor-proof. Nothing.

In fairness to the TV actors, oftentimes on a TV show there is little time to prepare and shoot . . . so the actors may have had to memorize the dang thing that morning. They probably had little time to really dig in. It could be that. Or it could be that they just don’t get it. We don’t know.

But it underlines something I’ve seen a lot in theatre, with my work and with the work of my best friend. No matter how well a scene is written, it is not actor proof.

You need good actors and, I should add, you need to give them time to do their job well. If you don’t have either, you’re basically fracked.

I’ve shown up for readings and or productions of work I wrote that I did not cast and watched it fail, miserably, due to inexperienced or bad acting. And often the script would get blamed.

You need good actors, and more than that, you need the right actors.

Sometimes an actor has talent but they’re wrong for the part. Sometimes they haven’t been able to prepare. Sometimes they just are having a bad day.

And sometimes, just like with writers, sometimes they’re simply bad.

I love actors, because what they do is hard. And I appreciate the good ones, because I can’t operate without them. Nothing is actor-proof. Nothing.

So hug a good actor today. Heh.

4 Responses to “ Nothing Is Actor-Proof . . .”

  1. Kevin Says:

    We had a read through of a script I wrote in LA, not long ago. The good actors make your words sing. They make everything sound so natural, so perfect. It’s the greatest thrill in the world. Then, you get lines which you think are so simple to deliver and rather impossible to fuck up . . . and well, they do. And it’s gutwrenching. I love actors too . . . good actors, I might add.

    And those clips were amazing.

  2. RVCBard Says:


    That is the sound of my inner control freak dying a slow, agonizing death.

  3. jodi Says:

    absolutely positively, and truly with a capital “t” fascinating as all hell. It’s like a shift in POV and intensity, but it’s the same scene. Thank you so much for posting this.

  4. Empirical Pleasures » Blog Archive » Godless Killing Machines Says:

    […] Josh James wrote “How Drew is Going to Destroy My Movie” “Nothing is Actor Proof.” […]

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