Alec Guinness: The Benevolent Lie

By Phone
October 1998

It's a horrible quandary, really: In order to be a good actor, one must be honest and forthright and creative. And yet, it is really necessary to design yourself to be an actor--to train your mind and your eyes and your voice to create cha
racters and to also create a life and an environment in which you can live well and with some measure of calm and comfort. It is a life of lies, ironically, because you have to deny the reality of things--not the least of which is the state of theatre and film--in order to believe that you are, in fact, an actor, and a useful and salable one at that. So you are required to approach your work truthfully and clearly, but the foundation from which you pull this work is one of great and creative deceit. No wonder we are quite barking mad. But don't lose hope in us or patience with us. We lie and we postpone because we don't know which model of actor might be needed next season, so we are afraid to tell others what we really think or what we really want. We weave a bit too much, but we are terrified of giving the wrong answer and striking the wrong response. On such seemingly small matters careers might be shattered and an opportunity to share our creation might be snatched away. I can only tell you that our lies--at least mine at any rate--are benevolent ones: We only want to remain what you might most need.


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