My life as an actor, part one
By Simon Barget
Whoever comes up with these scripts and these characters, I sometimes think they must be super-human. Because who can come up with whole worlds and characters and decide what the characters do, what they say to each other, I mean what kind of normal person has the capacity to do that, it really boggles the mind. So although there’s great skill in being an actor, or actress, it pales into insignificance when you consider that someone actually came up with the character in the first place, some poor sod sitting at home behind a computer, brainstorming, there is no comparison with that really to anything that I do.
And remember that however real my character seems to be on stage or on screen, it’s not really a real thing anymore than god or the Loch Ness monster, the characters that we play are plucked out of thin air, and god knows how some man or woman ever came up with them, setting aside (of course) all the things on film that are based on real life -- those are different and real life is real life-- but the best scripts are usually the ones that are completely new and unlike anything we’ve encountered before, fresh new worlds, not necessarily sci-fi, but situations where you find yourself playing this unique person plucked out of the blue.
Think of the person that actually sees through your eyes, that inhabits you, because when I act I don’t really think of the person who created the character at all, I just think of the character, I embody it, and it seems like these scriptwriters and filmmakers, these ideas-men, these are the real heroes, the ones who deserve all the plaudits, and it’s not really the actors who are indispensable, you’ve got millions upon millions of actors in this world, take one away and you’ll soon find someone else to play the part readily enough, in fact there’ll be a whole line of people waiting to play it, and we often have fourth and fifth stand-ins for parts just in case everyone pulls out.
I’ve worked with amazing directors, world-famous, I get to see them and interact with them, I’ve ponced cigarettes off and drank coffee with them, and yes they have some creative input, but I often never get to meet the creator himself. Most of the time, no one bothers to ask.
And there you have it. In the big productions, it’s pretty much the lead actor who gets all the credit, and that makes sense, because the actor is the person you see, the flesh and the blood, the one that brings it all to life, but no one really thinks about the person behind it all, the puppeteer if you will, some guy quietly pulling the strings just right of stage and suddenly the audience erupts in this massive outpouring of applause and the person who actually made the whole thing up, down to how big your nose is, or the exact distance between your eyes, how exactly you enunciate the word ‘what’, that person is nowhere to be seen, and not only that, it’s as if they don’t even want the credit, they just thrive on the very fact of creation, and then there’s me moaning about how I was overlooked for this or that part, not to mention all the times I act my guts out and the director or the assistants don’t even notice, don’t applaud me, and I feel somewhat diminished and yet the character is not really even mine to start with, and I suppose I am just lucky to have it for a time, on loan.