HomeQ&AI threw it all away

I threw it all away

0
votes

I heard this sentence said by an American actor to an American audience.

This actor impersonates Nixon and he claimed he had made a thorough search about his life and could so understand him better and also respect him.

So he said: "I learned a lot about Nixon ...how he lived, what he felt...and then, when acting , I threw it all away. "

some people of the audience laughed and I guess they understood what I had understood: He forgot about it and simply acted as he had never heard about Nixon in his life.
However, the actor looked at the people who had laughed and was fast to explain:

"I meant....I applied all I had learnt about this man in my acting."

I was surprised at this phrasing. Is this a common way of expressing this? Would you as an American have understood the way he used it? What about British people'

6382 views
updated FEB 23, 2009
posted by 00494d19

27 Answers

1
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I don't know if I know anything better than you, but the reason i said that it made sense to me the way it was worded was that if you are portraying a fictional character, you are free to make up everything about that character that isn't written into the part or the work in which it exists. If you are playing a historical figure, especially a modern one with whom your audience will be familiar, you must study that person in depth, in order to create a character that is in keeping with, and not at odds with the historical record and people's memories of the person. The impressive thing about Langella's portrayal of nixon is that it doesn't ever try to imitate or caricature him, which would have been so tempting all things considered, but it does look like your memories of the man. And he is always good, and doesn't disappoint in this film either.

MJ said:

I think a proofreader made an improper correction. Read it again carefully. I'm sure Mr. Langella was saying -- at least intended to say -- that in portraying an historical character, like in portraying a fictional one, "You have to dive in with both feet ... to get to the essence of the character."

The only difference is, if you want an historical character to ring true, you have to research that character "who and what he actually was," not analyze only who you think he might have been or who you might have wanted him to be.

Doesn't that make sense?

From your posts I'm deducing you know perhaps even better than I that for every successful character portrayal in any depth, the actor has gone the length, breadth, and depth of character analysis, torn it apart, put it back together, likely done improvisational work with the material, et al.

Steve said: But I have to say it makes sense to me as I pasted it....

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updated AGO 16, 2010
posted by The-Steve
1
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From the point of view of a performer/interpreter the meaning I would take is that he used all he had learned but in an unconscious way. Instead of doing things intentionally to make himself more like the character he was portraying, he studied the man in depth, and let all that knowledge influence his spontaneous portrayal. Classical musicians say things like this a lot. A teacher in a master class will have someone work the hell out of a passage, and then tell them to throw it all out and just play it, knowing full-well that the work will show in whatever the student does with the piece

Heidita said:

This could have been it! He might have mispoken and tried to amend his mistake by explaining. Hmmm, possibly.

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updated AGO 16, 2010
posted by The-Steve
0
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I haven't seen Frost Nixon, and now I do want to! There is a clip on the net I listened to a few times. I'm old enough to remember those days......

updated FEB 23, 2009
posted by MJ
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I can't imagine that anyone still cares, but after reading the linked material in your last post, I was struck by the description of the gelatin nose. In the article I found he specifically says that there were no prosthetics. It seemed unlikely he would lie about such a thing. Then I remembered where that article had been published: Playbill. In other words, in the article I quoted he was talking about the London stage version, not the Movie. If you haven't seen Frost Nixon, I highly recommend it by the way.

MJ said:

"Mr. President...." Frank Langella as Nixon: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2008/12/scene...

--Thanks to Steve for picking up on that the actor in question was Frank Langella!

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updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by The-Steve
0
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"Mr. President...." Frank Langella as Nixon:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2008/12/scene-stealer-1.html

--Thanks to Steve for picking up on that the actor in question was Frank Langella!

updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by MJ
0
votes

Thanks MJ

MJ said:

Hi Gus, both spellings are correct but in the US we commonly do write learned with an ed. Learnt is British spelling, and I just stuck with it because Heidita had begun this thread with that spelling, and I was quoting her quote of something she had heard Frank Langella say.If Mr. Langella were being quoted in writing in any US publication, though, chances are they would have changed the spelling to learned.

Gus said:

I meant....I applied all I had learnt about this man in my acting."Is this correct..... I had learnt or should it be all I have learned?

PS I am SO glad español spellings are more consistent than ours en inglés. ~mj

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updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by 00769608
0
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Hi Gus, both spellings are correct but in the US we commonly do write learned with an ed. Learnt is British spelling, and I just stuck with it because Heidita had begun this thread with that spelling, and I was quoting her quote of something she had heard Frank Langella say.

If Mr. Langella were being quoted in writing in any US publication, though, chances are they would have changed the spelling to learned.

Gus said:

I meant....I applied all I had learnt about this man in my acting." Is this correct..... I had learnt or should it be all I have learned?

PS I am SO glad español spellings are more consistent than ours en inglés. ~mj

updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by MJ
0
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I meant....I applied all I had learnt about this man in my acting."

Is this correct..... I had learnt or should it be all I have learned'

updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by 00769608
0
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Steve, I think you are right, that he was making that contrast.

updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by MJ
0
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I think a proofreader made an improper correction. Read it again carefully. I'm sure Mr. Langella was saying -- at least intended to say -- that in portraying an historical character, like in portraying a fictional one, "You have to dive in with both feet ... to get to the essence of the character."

The only difference is, if you want an historical character to ring true, you have to research that character "who and what he actually was," not analyze only who you think he might have been or who you might have wanted him to be.

Doesn't that make sense?

From your posts I'm deducing you know perhaps even better than I that for every successful character portrayal in any depth, the actor has gone the length, breadth, and depth of character analysis, torn it apart, put it back together, likely done improvisational work with the material, et al.

Steve said: But I have to say it makes sense to me as I pasted it....

updated FEB 22, 2009
posted by MJ
0
votes

What I quoted was a cut and paste because the link wouldn't work. If it was improperly worded, then they did it. But I have to say it makes sense to me as I pasted it. I went to a conservatory and my son to a drama school, and neither of us had any problem with what was said by Langella. The misunderstanding is not cultural, but discipline oriented. This is a common idea for anyone who has done formal training in the performing arts. We forget that it isn't for everybody else.

MJ said:

Steve, I think you meant to quote Playbill as saying, "Playing a real, historical person is no different from portraying a fictional character [except it can involve more research~mj]...."

Or else there's an error in the Playbill blurb.

Everything else you've written in this thread agrees with all I know about this stuff, too.

steve said:

... ... this was at Playbill: Playing a real, historical person is (sic) different from portraying a fictional character... Langella says. "You have to dive in with both feet ....''

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updated FEB 21, 2009
posted by The-Steve
0
votes

Steve, I think you meant to quote Playbill as saying, "Playing a real, historical person is no different from portraying a fictional character [except it can involve more research~mj]...."

Or else there's an error in the Playbill blurb.

Everything else you've written in this thread agrees with all I know about this stuff, too.

steve said:

... ... this was at Playbill: Playing a real, historical person is (sic) different from portraying a fictional character... Langella says. "You have to dive in with both feet ....''

>

updated FEB 21, 2009
posted by MJ
0
votes

An actor's portrayal of a character, either fictional or historical, is grounded in having acquired a knowledge of that character's past, his or her imagined ranges of feelings, how the character lived life, their interests, and ideas of what things that character could be capable of.

But during the acting they "throw all that away," and simply "become" the character.

When the actor who played Nixon said he "threw it all away," he simply meant that during the performance he was not analyzing Nixon as he had done and did when not playing the role.

The actor probably learned this expression in drama school; it is part of theatrical jargon.

And he himself realized--even as he blurted it out, "...I threw it all away"--how that statement could be misinterpreted by people outside the theatre crowd, especially regarding the complex, controversial person of former US President Richard Milhouse Nixon.

Hence the actor's explanation, "I meant...I applied all I had learnt...."

updated FEB 21, 2009
posted by MJ
0
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Heidita: Remember, this man is an actor. I'm sure he is very good at expressing himself when he uses a script written by someone else, a professional writer. Conversely...

updated FEB 21, 2009
posted by Jaimito-Angulo
0
votes

Tuvo que esperar hasta el fin de semana tener el tiempo, pero busqué la cita en una entrevista con Langella. No quiero tocar la bocina mía demasiada furtamente, pero lo di en el clavo. I can't write in Spanish worth a darn, but this stuff I know.
I can't get a link to work here for some reason, but this was at Playbill:
Playing a real, historical person is different from portraying a fictional character, Langella says. "You have to dive in with both feet to who and what he actually was. I resisted that for a while. I came to London armed with a great deal of visual research and I read a lot of books. I watched him. And then I thought, 'I'm not going to go in that direction.' But as days went by, I had no choice but to try to create his physical type, and to some degree try to create a look, a sense of it. There's no special makeup and no prosthetics. Then I threw it all away, as a sense of the character took over. I don't want to imitate him. I felt that if I can get to his essence, he'll come out that way."

updated FEB 21, 2009
posted by The-Steve
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