You hear people talk about star quality...Actors…or, no, people, that have this magical, elusive superpower nobody seems to know how to get for themselves. (Ok, I’ll admit just typing “star quality” feels utterly ridiculous — but we all know there’s something to it.) And it isn’t just reserved for famous people.
I had the great pleasure of meeting actor Michael Stuhlbarg many years ago (before he was a mega-star like now) at LAByrinth Theatre Company’s Summer Intensive and I remember being totally captivated by him, just in conversation– And later I even called my husband after the reading he was in to tell him about this actor who had just read a role and was absolutely riveting and saying, “I don’t understand how this guy isn’t insanely famous”. Weeks later, the Coen brothers’ film “A Serious Man” was announced. I’m telling you, Michael Stuhlbarg had that dang star quality before he was a star.
While I can’t tell you what Michael Stuhlbarg does to capture us, I can say that actors who embrace and include everything that’s happening in their work get really present, free and magnetic in their work.
Star quality is simply presence and you don’t have to wait to get a script to practice. Getting really present in your everyday life will do wonders for you, both as a human and as an artist.
Do you include everything you’re feeling in your work?
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Maybe you woke up and you’re having a great day. You’ve got an audition and you’re like, “Yeah. I got this. This is good, I’m released, I’m feeling good!” Or, on my way to the audition, I spilled my coffee on my whatever and I’ve got some terrible text from my grandma, and all the sudden it’s like, shit! This is not how it’s supposed to be! And then all the sudden you’re out. And then you know you’re out. And it’s time to go, and you’re in your head, and you’re denying what you’re feeling in your body, and then you go and you’re either ahead of the text or you’re behind and you’re in your head and you flub. And then you have the thought of, “I don’t know this.” And then you forget a line! And then you can’t get back on track, right? This may sound familiar, to at least a certain degree.
Start to work with noticing what’s happening in your body and also allowing and embracing whatever is going on so that you can include it. The more you can do this kind of work…this is where you start to get impulsive and free auditions. You’ve done the work and you’ve got a really nice structure, format to work in that’s not a hard and fast rigid plan: “I’m gonna do this with my head, I’m gonna look exactly in this point…” You’ve worked that, you’ve made some choices to serve the overall idea of the story and what the writer put on there, and there’s some tone and there’s some things you want to work with. And then…you’re there.
You’re really embracing what’s happening for you, so that you can really be available to your impulses. Because if you’re shutting down and denying what you’re feeling, you’re blocking anything that comes up. You’re not going to be available to anything that comes up for you. You’re not going to have a moment of that free, that…it’s what casting directors love, where it feels like, oh they’re just so natural. It’s not just about natural. It’s you being alive and present. It’s presence. And that presence is so magnetic. It’s what people refer to as “star quality”.