Having had some experiences in acting, both on stage and for screens, I developed my understanding of the relationship between the actor and the director more from an actor’s perspective. It is interesting to now look at it from a director’s perspective, and I am glad that there are a lot of overlaps between my understanding and Mackendrick’s opinion on the collaboration.
I have thought about the question whether actors are merely deliverers of directors’ sculped world or they create and contribute to the work as well. A good actor doesn’t act, they become. And I think for them to become, they need to know the rationale behind the design of the character and how the director is going to portray them. The performance would only look genuine if it is genuine, meaning that the actions, emotions, and dialogues are carried out from the inside. For example, by thinking about ‘I am sad,’ the performance will be superficial. But if the actor thinks ‘Why did she leave me’ as if himself is the character, then his thoughts would naturally drives his emotions. Therefore, as Mackendrick mentioned in the reading, I think it’s essential for the director to communicate his understanding of the character to inspire the actor. Then the actor develops his interpretation and becomes the character. A good actor would always add something new to the work because once he becomes, he carries out the performance by instinct.
It is brilliant to read about how the director can still somehow ‘instruct’ or ‘manipulate’ the actor to do certain things by using props. Someone’s unconscious actions always speak a lot about his personality. Props can stimulate an actor’s imagination of what the character would do with the objects. The actions don’t necessarily need to add any content to the story. But what the actor does with the objects, how long he plays it, what other things he does while playing with the objects (stare blankly or fully engaged), the motivation of the action (trying to avoid direct eye contact by playing with little things on hand), these all enrich the character and offer more space for the actor to improvise. Also by the placement of props, the director implicitly points out a pathway for the actor to follow in front of the camera.
Overall I think the director and the actor need to trust each other and admire each other profession wise to have a smooth collaboration.
Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p.179-194). London: Faber and Faber, 2004.