“An important element to being a true professional is irradicating the fear of making mistakes. Do not be afraid of being wrong. An excessive fear of failure or error blocks the free and natural instincts you will need in your performance. Give yourself the freedom to f—- it up.
Surprisingly, when you do, you are far less likely to f—- up,” Craig Archibald writes in a plainspoken manner with his new book, The Actor’s Mindset: Acting as a Craft, Discipline, and Business. “…When you are wrong or fail fast—admit it. Practice the integrity of accepting responsibility and you will be amazed at how fast your good moral code rebounds to service you in the most unpredictable and positive ways. Integrity brings integrity.” He continues, “One day, Philip Seymour Hoffman invited me to lunch. We talked about how people learn to act, and I asked him: ‘If you had one note to give to my acting clients, what would it be?’
He gave it a good fifteen seconds of thought before replying, ‘Don’t be afraid to think.’ I loved that note, especially from him. If you watch his film performances, you’ll notice that he was never afraid to think in character. He took the time to process information, or to make a decision. He didn’t rush. He took his time and was not afraid to think on camera. It was part of his genius.”
Part of Archibald’s genius is both highlighting his being a student of predecessors and peers alike, along with his own, distinctive brand of experience and how that informs him as a celebrated acting coach. He talks to the reader in a manner that feels irreverent and devoid of the typical “actory” vibe. Like celebrities a la Brie Larson, Francis McDormand, Johnny Depp, or John Cusack, he’s adopted the atypical everyman demeanor. The type fully aware of their success, fame, and privilege, but who manages to stay something identifiably human in spite of the process, not because of it or separate from it.
This makes his more authoritative stances on things feel reliable, and worthy of respect. “Many actors fundamentally misunderstand the casting process. It’s important that you do not,” he states in the latter vein. “…It’s helpful to anticipate any possible problems and prepare yourself with the knowledge that you can use those problems to your advantage…Nothing’s going to throw you off because you’re prepared for anything and determined to use whatever circumstances you encounter to make yourself better. This way of thinking will promote you into a place of confident wholeness and reality. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We all have tension. We all have issues. This is about using the energy around you, no matter how toxic it may seem, to make you better. Take perceived obstacles and turn them into opportunities.”
It’s through this kind of fatherly care that Archibald endears himself to the reader, making you feel taken care of, supported, and genuinely educated on issues related to one of the most exclusive creative echelons on the planet…