Are Great Actors Born Talented

Great actors will be quick to tell you that acting requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Great actors begin every day with extensive stretching, a cardio-vascular work-out, and a wide range of specialized exercises that help increase flexibility, and improve form, balance and muscle tone, as well as building lung capacity. They also do rigorous vocal exercises to develop their abilities to project and enunciate with ease and clarity.

Great actors know how to handle the audition process. They know how to look for auditions, they know which auditions are appropriate for them, and spend a portion of every day looking for new audition opportunities (even if they have an agent). Their head shots and resumes are clean, clear, complete and professional-looking. They show up to auditions on time, having already booked a time slot, and don’t simply “crash” the auditions hoping to be seen. They have prepared an audition piece that is a polished performance unto itself and meets the audition requirements as they were posted. At the audition they are polite to everyone (not just the director). They perform their audition piece flawlessly. Afterwards they say thank-you for the opportunity to audition. If they are rewarded with a call-back they quickly confirm their availability, and make sure they walk into the second audition as prepared as they were for the first.

Great actors take the rehearsal process seriously. Simply being able to memorize lines is a skill, and they always, always, always have their lines memorized by the director’s deadline. They can read a rehearsal schedule and know when and where they will be needed. They arrive at rehearsal on time and ready to work, coming in early if necessary to do warm-ups, etc. They make themselves available for publicity interviews, costume fittings and other non-rehearsal activities that will help ensure the success of the project. At rehearsals they are a kind, respectful member of the team, ensuring they have met their obligations to the process and helping out others if asked to do so.

Great actors keep the director’s vision intact when the project leaves the rehearsal hall and goes to the stage or screen. They do not use the director’s absence to try out long-silenced ideas about their blocking, delivery or character, nor do they attempt to change anything merely to pander to the basest whims of the low-lifes in the audience. Instead they allow their performance to grow organically within the given circumstances of the text and the director’s vision. They are fully prepared for every performance or shoot, warming up, checking props, and doing whatever else needs to be done to get ready, even if it means arriving at 6am for several hours in the make-up chair.

Great actors talk about the project with everyone they meet, and do so in a positive light, constantly championing the show even if they don’t necessarily think it’s their best work.

This is what great actors do; gaining, perfecting and utilizing the skills of their craft. Talent doesn’t enter into it. Talent is something un-quantifiable. You can’t hold it in your hand and say “I’ve got talent.” At best, talent is a subjective label, applied by supportive mothers, star-struck fans and actors themselves, who believe they see something that may or may not be there. Too often the results of hard work, dedication and a smattering of good luck are mistakenly called talent by those who wish they had it, which has given rise to the whole notion of being “born with talent” in the first place.

A great actor born talented? No, of course not. There’s no such thing.