This blog, brought to you by UPP Studios, discusses the importance of dropping one’s guard as an actor. Acting is a lot about vulnerability. Breaking down defense mechanisms, lowering one’s walls and bearing one’s soul. In most beginner acting classes, the instructor will do a series of trust exercises, to display to the group that they are in a safe space, free to explore their vulnerabilities. It’s not easy. It may sound silly to those who have never taken an acting class, but I’ve seen many of my peers break down in tears, because they were not prepared for other people to see them in such a raw way. That said, learning that dropping one’s guard is not only acceptable, but essential as an actor, opens a performer up to a whole new world of possibilities. Furthermore, it makes for truer performance, and therefore a more captivating presentation.
One of the most vulnerable positions one can be in is to be nude in front of other people. It is a combination of apprehension towards embracing such an uninhibited form of exhibition, and a skepticism as to the necessity of the nudity for the project, that prevents many actors from performing naked. However, there are projects in which an actor’s nudity absolutely enhances the production because it either reinforces or reveals something major about a character.
I recently watched the film Captain Fantastic. In the this movie, Viggo Mortensen plays a father of six who has raised his family in the wild, away from the negative impacts he believes uniform society has on a person. There is a clear sentiment that is present throughout the entire film that none of Mortensen’s children should ever feel any sense of shame or embarrassment. A sense that if one is intelligent, strong, confident and aware, there is never the need for bashfulness. To further facilitate this idea, there is a moment in which Mortensen appears nude in front of his children and some strangers. The strangers look shocked to see Mortensen in the buff. He replies to the mortified looks on their faces, “It’s just a penis. Every man has one. We’re all animals of the earth.” Mortensen absolutely did not have to get naked to pull this role off. However, it is something as small and as real as this moment that his character has in this film, that makes Viggo Mortensen an actor that an audience member has no problem distinguishing from his characters. He is an actor that truly transforms himself. He understands the benefit of dropping one’s guard to really commit.
What one must realize is that it is not the act of being nude that displays vulnerability, but rather the emotion behind that action. Vulnerability is rooted in emotion, and as such, there are many ways in which to display emotional vulnerability.
UPP StudiosDropping one’s guard is a sentiment that has never been an issue for UPP Studios. I have quite a bit of theatre education under my belt, and Adam C. Lively is one of the most naturally uninhibited people I know. Adam has stripped down to nearly nothing on camera for UPP Studios sketch comedy video shoots and photography shoots without hesitation. Yes, this is partially because Adam is a madman. More than that though, it made sense for the character, and he felt it would bring additional comedy to the scene. Adam’s sense of commitment makes him a wonderful dramatic actor as well. He is very connected to his emotions, and he does not allow fear to stop him from exposing himself physically or emotionally. I too am willing to put myself in very vulnerable positions for the sake of comedy. It doesn’t matter to me the sexuality of a character, the ridiculous outfit that character might wear, the horrendous things that character might say or the unforgivable things that character might do. If it makes sense for the scene, then I’ll do it.
As an actor, there comes a time when one must realize that dropping one’s guard, and displaying vulnerability for the sake of a character, is a reflection on that character, but not that actor. That is a hard thing for one to wrap one’s head around. Many actors fear accepting certain roles because they think that role will change the public’s perception of them as a person, and that will follow them in their careers and their lives. While I understand that fear, I believe that to truly grow as an actor, and to truly perform to the best of one’s ability, one must rid themselves of that fear. As the 32nd president of the United States FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Thank you for your interest in UPP Studios. There is a new blog every Friday, and an original new media sketch comedy video every Monday right here at uppstudios.com, so stay tuned!