Top 20 Quotes about Acting that Make Fun of It

March 31, 2010 | Celebrities

"James Lipton"Anyone watching Inside The Actors’ Studio for the first time would be forgiven for assuming that the interviewees did at some point within the past 24 hours regenerate a spinal cord or help a leper perform his morning ablutions. James Lipton – him of the fawning and sexually ambiguous interview – treats his guests as gods descended to Earth, who can only stay for as long as it takes to tell us mortals what their least favorite sound is. For his part, Lipton often seems on the verge of a central nervous system collapse, so overcome is he at the gift of being able to bask in Mickey Rourke’s whiskey fumes.
While he might be the most consistent source of ego-stroking for actors outside the moochers who surround them, he is not alone. The veneration in which actors hold themselves was clearly demonstrated in our blog detailing the Top 10 Most Obnoxious Oscar Moments.
It’s also evident whenever actors get carried away talking about their craft and the schools of acting – classical, in which an actor’s life experiences differ drastically from those of the character being played, and method, whereby you draw upon your life experiences for a scene – conjuring up images of Slippy the Hamster distending the belly of the neighbor’s python to bring the tears needed for a scene in which your love interest is run over by a car.
Acting in films looks fairly easy— at least when you compare it to landing a plane or removing a gall bladder. Theatre would be tougher as a live audience gives immediate feedback—chatting during the main course, sneaking out for a smoke, being on a different plane of wakefulness—than the relatively small, indifferent group (nude scenes notwithstanding) assembled on a movie set. While stage actors have to memorize say, the soliloquy from Richard II – which contains more dialogue than the Transformers trilogy – most actors rarely have to remember anything longer than the lunch specials at the restaurants employing them.
Some actors do believe the hype surrounding them and while they may be enjoyable to watch on screen are unbearable to hear interviewed. Others have a more realistic outlook on the profession and are willing to express it. Here we have assembled 20 of the best such observations on acting: Top 20 Quotes about Acting that Make Fun of It.
Actors are cattle.
Alfred Hitchcock
That said, a blank bovine stare often communicates more than an entire performance by Vin Diesel.
Michael Caine in Jaws

Jaws 4: Should have been a Caine mutiny

It’s much harder to act in a bad film than in a good one. A terrible script makes for very difficult acting. You can win an Academy Award for some of the easiest acting in your career, made possible by a brilliant script.
Michael Caine

Jaws 3D must have been his King Lear

[Editor’s note: Oops. It was Jaws 4: The Revenge. We apologize as Sharks for this grievous error. However, in our defence, movies featuring large fish eating people tend to blend together] 

Only a few of us will admit it, but actors will sometimes read a script like this: bullshit…bullshit…my part…blah, blah, blah…my part…bullshit…”
Michael J Fox


To be honest, I don’t usually do very much research, especially if I’m working with a director who also wrote the screenplay. They’ve usually done a tonne of research. And they’ll tell you about it from their perspective which is better than doing your own research…
Christina Ricci


for every In the Heat of the Night there are 50 Kindreds

Film acting would be about 80 percent better than it has been lately if actors did their homework, if they didn’t have egos that took the size of their talent for granted.
Rod Steiger

Mama gave me only one piece of acting advice: ‘Don’t do anything. It’s better than doing it wrong or badly. There will always be violins to give your character the right mood.’
Isabella Rossellini (referring to Ingrid Bergman)

So the wisdom that one of the legends of the silver screen had to pass on to her daughter, a famous screen presence in her own right, was basically: Be quiet and hope they don’t notice.

It’s really basically really easy. We’re not curing cancer—wish to God we were—we’re not. And it’s not rocket science. We’re just interpreting what somebody else who’s much cleverer than me, has written.
Malcolm McDowell

Silent Night Deadly Night 5, working title He Who Smelt It Dealt it

Clark Gable once said to me, “‘Acting school?’ [If you go,] I’ll kill ya!”
Mickey Rooney

Show me a bad script and I will show you a big payday.
Al Pacino

And for punishment, we’ll show you the lousy film that has been inflicted on the public.

My daughter used to sit and watch Murder, She Wrote. I tried to watch with her, but I fell asleep.
Angela Lansbury

Anyone not wowed by the opening credit sequence of Murder She Wrote — where Lansbury rides around her hamlet on a bicycle — is a narcoleptic.

I don’t see that anybody needs to earn $12 million for three months’ work, quite honestly.
Helen Mirren

Not unless that person has invested time and effort into establishing a successful drug cartel.

Movies today are like fast food. Today’s names won’t become legendary and lead to the next generation
Angela Lansbury

It’s a business you go into because you’re egocentric. It’s a very embarrassing profession.
Katherine Hepburn

Broadway producers are happy to have a big Hollywood name they can post on the marquee, but most of them assume that television and film stars really can’t handle stage work. Too often, they’re right.
Rue McClanahan

Who could handle making adolescent males watching TV with their parents uncomfortable by playing a promiscuous senior citizen on a popular sitcom.

There is only one thing that can kill the movies and that is education.
Will Rogers

That is especially true about when it comes to terrible movies about education, like Dangerous Minds.

An awful lot of actors who are considered very good actors are not very good actors. There are people who just strike gold, they have intrinsic talent but the point is that if they did train…it would only broaden them more.
Martin Landau

The actor is merely a crude empiricist, a practitioner guided by vague instinct.
Antonin Artaud

Artaud was best known for his Theatre of Cruelty manifesto—best experienced as the director’s cut of Batman & Robin.  

I despise those prick actors who say ‘I was in character’, and ‘I became the character’ and all that stuff…It’s hideous. It’s just masturbation at the highest level.
Johnny Depp

Technique is something that you use if you need it. Otherwise, to hell with it.
Sanford Meisner

Remind us not to visit his barber.

The performances you have in your head are always much better than the performances on stage.
Dame Maggie Smith

Also better in your head: The pool of people interested in having no-strings sex with you.

[Reference: The Quotable Actor by Damon DiMarco]

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6 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Not to be too nit picky, but Michael Caine was not in Jaws 3D. He was in Jaws 4.

  2. I don’t know about “actors are cattle”, but if I owned a cow that earned $12 million in three months – even a year – by transporting drugs in its udder, I would also easily forget about the technique. (Imagine her poor little calves too…)
    Fun commentaries to fun quotes, good job.

  3. As soon as the sheeple stop being willing to pay $10.00 or more to see whatever piece of crap the studios decide to foist off on us, the faster those $12 million dollar paydays will go away.

    But so long as people are going to stand in line and fork over their money to see a second-rate remake or a third-rate sequel simply because it was made with actor X or actress Y or director Z, the infection will continue to fester.

    As “Captain Planet” used to say, “The POWER is YOURS!”

  4. Some actors’ egos needs to be taken down a notch or two.

  5. I see a lot of interesting articles on your website.
    You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of time, there is a tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in couple of minutes,
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