Contact Kathryn at: kathrynspira60@gmail.com

Kathryn Spira

Friendship Roots Inside the Actors Studio

After speaking to you guys last week about viewing “Inside the Actors Studio,” and sharing with you how much I thoroughly enjoyed the series, I went online with Netflix. I was able to get the first interview on “Inside the Actors Studio” with Paul Newman that took place in 1994.

That first disk also had an interview with Robert Redford, who became friends with Newman after they appeared in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and later “The Sting.” Those interviews gave great details about little-known things that happened on the sites and how the movies came to be made in spite of studio short-sightedness.

Redford said the interference of studios was a major reason for starting the Sundance Film Festival and the independent film school there.

What really struck me when Newman talked about being a cerebral or intuitive actor. He labeled himself as a cerebral actor and his wife, Joanne Woodward, as an intuitive actor, although he said as he got older, he hoped he had “gone over to the other side.”

As an actress with most of my experience being in plays and musicals rather than film or television, I was trained “to listen to your inner voice.” Let me give you an example. I don’t know what it is like to be Hamlet, but I have had stressful times in my life that could be used to show the angst I imagine he must have felt.

This is what’s known as “emotional recall,” in other words, as an actress I had to parallel my emotional memory with that of the character I was playing.

This “sense memory” is part of the intuitive approach to acting. When Newman spoke of approaching his work as cerebral, I’m thinking he must have thought it through and re-rationalized what the motivation that drives his character was.

In fact, Newman said he used to lock himself in a hotel room prior to filming a part to come up with different approaches to the character he was playing. He joked that 90 percent of the time it was a waste, but that 10 percent sometimes came up with something he could use.

In closing I will tell you that Herman went to our local store in Caroga Lake and got me a copy of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which I never saw, and I intend to report next week on how I think Newman and Redford worked as a team to make it the classic it has become and for which the Sundance Film Festival was named.

 

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com.