Alec Guinness: Don't Get Caught

Ernest Hemingway, Alec Guinness, and Noel Coward in Sloppy Joe's Bar, Havana, Cuba, in 1959, during the shooting of Carol Reed's Our Man in Havana. (Corbis)

Interview with James Grissom

I was taught--exhorted, I think, might be the proper term--to never be caught acting. Let the audience enjoy the effect of our acting, but never let them see the scaffolding, the affectations, that built your characterization. Hide within the art and the character. This is how I try to act, but it is devilishly hard: Sometimes you give in to the temptation to just aim for an effect, but this is shoddy acting.

Above all, love the craft, the A to B nature of stepping toward fulfillment of a character. Get lost in that work, and before you know it, you've achieved your character and you're sharing it with others.

But above all: Don't get caught.

I would not mind being praised as a cat burglar sort of actor: Stealthy, quick, sleek, and then gone.

© 2014 James Grissom


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