OK – you ready?
Every role that you play…
Every part that you audition for…
One key element will push it over the edge.
This element will pull out the best in you.
In a word it is…
Your reason WHY to do this part.
But, this WHY must transcend what doing this part could do for your career.
You must find a WHY that will enlighten your audience.
Ask yourself – “How can I help mankind by doing this role?”
Even if you’re playing a villainous, evil person – have a WHY that will show your audience what happens to any of us when we lose our way, when we hold a grudge, when we are heartbroken.
Having this secret WHY will not only demand that you dig deep – but you will know you are offering a gift.
Find the lesson you want to teach with each role.
Dig deep into your WHY, and you are going to create from your source. That is your job.
What do ya think?
Do you have other ideas to help all of us create from our source? Let us know below.
Are you willing to give this WHY a shot?
Happy day to ya
PS. You dig this – let your peeps know.
Lisa Robbin Young says
I love this, Josh. I teach my clients about tapping into what I call their “Essential Why” and you’ve translated that beautifully to acting.
Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world!
Jonathan Haidle says
Any thoughts on how to avoid having this question slip into another “head game” (what you’ve talked about avoiding by simply being present)? Maybe just asking the “WHY” question and seeing what comes up – without internal pressure to come up with “something good?”
Honestly, can totally see my mind grabbing this and running for the end zone, grasping it as an opportunity to prove/remind me about the exalted importance of thought – and….to stop focusing so damn much on simply being present, telling me that’s not enough and you better come up with the “best” WHY possible.
Jonathan, I feel you on this one. I can get in my head so much about things. I think this is more about feeling why you are doing something, not so much thinking of why you are doing something. I have found that if I am in my heart about something my mind naturally has no chance to get involved.
Hope that helps.
Alicia Bernbaum says
This is so true. If my heart is guiding me than my head just knows what to do and how to go with the flow. I feel like Josh’s concept comes down to WHY you should be in this role, why you are the right person mentally/physically/spiritually to play the role – whatever type/size/character it is. Its like Natalie Portman – she turned down the role in Doubt which Amy Adams took because she just couldnt understand abstaining from sex as a nun – there was no WHY connection for her so she didnt take it.
I see the WHY as something you do early on in your process to inspire you to commit fully.
And part of committing fully is to use the CI tools ( or whatever else works for you) to engage you into the moment while at the same time fulfilling the obligations of the what you are working on.
One part of the process – the WHY and choosing CI tools is the creative more intuitive/intellectual part. And then it’s all about surrendering to the truth and whoever you are working with.
Ya see, the CI tools are designed to engage you fully – but choosing which tools to use is a creative decision. And having the WHY at the base will power your engine to do the work you are meant to do on the planet.
Hope this makes it clearer.
Jonathan Haidle says
Thanks Josh – that’s clarifying.
What I could see being helpful for me (using the CI tools) is simply “holding” that WHY question, being present with how that question feels and noticing what comes up……letting the truth bubble up from a deeper place, so that I’m not forcing it or mentally stiff-arming it into place just to have a “strong” why. And also…..not judging myself if it doesn’t come up, or if my mind judges what arises as being “lame.”
Love this Josh! A bonus I have found, is that I can apply this trick to anything I am creating in my life as well. Taking a moment to really check your motivation for something or to set your intention is a great way to put your heart into something and benefit others.
And even though I direct a lot of the Committed Impulse to acting – it’s absolutely true that this work applies to everyone.
Thanks for your words.
On set today and read this in the makeup chair. I love the simplicity of this. One very direct question to open a wealth of knowledge about a character. I had already done all my early work on this woman, but was still reserving a bit of judgement about her choice to have a long term affair with a married man and then to reveal it quite cruelly to his wife. But the question of WHY took me away from judgement and into purpose and action. It colored her with much more humanity than I had accessed before. And I could leave the judging for the audience. Thanks for the hump day nugget Josh!
Congrats on the gig as well!
Thanks for this. Totally agree, though I wouldn’t have been able to say it so clearly before reading this! Thanks for putting it out there so simply.
And, for me, really figuring out “why” is not just as important but actually even more important when playing villainous, evil people. Really answering “why” in the deepest most personal and immediate way (maybe even in a different way every rehearsal, or at different moments in a single performance) connects me in the most direct, visceral, and primal way to the role and the world of the play/film/whatever.
Actors are natuarl teachers.
In every way.
This is what we do.
Because we empathize with others who crave to do it naturally too.
Make them happy.
Their smile – your bliss.
This is all I got 🙂
…oh, and BIG HUGS, Josh!
…sorry for the typo, I must be hungry 🙂
Actors are natural teachers…
Really love this insight. I know that in asking this WHY question, I will get back to the basics of why I truly value acting as a craft and as a result, both my heart and head will be in a good place.
Thanks for sharing this!
Great advice, Josh for NOT getting in my head but in the game because it stops being about me and if I’m good enough, tall enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, etc, and becomes about serving something bigger than me=me in action=full engagement=creative explosion=the best contribution I could give (but would never been able to plan it). Thanks!
Mark Lanham says
Dear Josh: Love this advice. We’ve had a great run of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, but I’ve been wondering how to go even deeper with what I’m doing. You provided the answer! I know after reading your suggestions that this week’s shows will be even more amazing than the last.