There were excesses or mannerisms in the Method, things like your not being able to hear what was being said; and its concomitant, the habit of the actors in forsaking the original "text" for the improvisations that came into their earnest heads and which were beyond reproach just because they had become their characters.
It's hard to exaggerate the impact of the Method. It was full of good work, but it was above all, sincere, American, robust and manly. Writing shifted to accommodate the search for a "true self." Thus, in "On the Waterfront," Mr. Brando wants to recover the crushed spirit in Terry Malloy the failed boxer, while in "East of Eden" the "bad boy" Cal Trask yearns to gain the paternal love he deserves. These models were imitated not just in movies, but in countless television dramas or episodes in which the story turned on so-and-so's rediscovery of his damaged human nature. It was quite close to psychotherapy and the Method, soul-searching and getting at your "process" all worked in harness. Almost as a matter of course, would-be actors went into therapy.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
David Thomson thinks capital-M Method acting is over; I'd guess he has never seen the inside of an acting class. Any acting teacher (or director worthy of the job) knows a trained actor will pull from different techniques as the situation arises.