Great actors make themselves out of the stuff they are born with and all that they experience as their lives unfold. They challenge themselves to make the most of those assets and transcend those limitations — to make sense of all they have been given.
It is not enough to have talent, but talent is important. Talent can mean many things. Each extraordinary artist possesses a unique combination of gifts and must work to bring them to fruition and to compensate for the ones he or she lacks. Authenticity, sensitivity, imagination, empathy; a good ear, clever tongue; a resonant voice; physical coordination, flexibility, strength; courage, vulnerability — all these are key. Perhaps you are born with them; perhaps you must cultivate them. Probably it will be some combination of the two.
As Herbert Berghof was fond of saying, “Never mind your talent; do you have the determination?” You must be truthful with yourself and not rest at what comes easily. Each effort to communicate something meaningful and human presents new obstacles and demands. Each performance depends on a unique fusion of the intentions, efforts, and talents of the artists involved. You work as hard as you can to build a lightning rod, then hope and allow that lightning may strike.
If you are expecting to be great, you will likely miss the mark. If you are diligent, honest, and passionate about your work, you will do well. The reward: Sometimes, sometimes — through the temerity of your efforts and some accident of grace — something extraordinary will be revealed.
– “Are Great Actors Born or Made” – June 9, 2008, Backstage