Notting Hill and Julia Roberts Revisited
A student recently addressed my post dated October 25, 2011 in which I commented on Ms. Roberts' performance of the scene in Notting Hill with Hugh Grant that takes place on the roof. I had discussed the actor's habit of rushing through scenes or sections of scenes for which they can't find the "action/objective" -- what the character wants to do, as it relates to Stella Adler's statement that there are no "throwaway" lines; every line each character speaks being intrinsic to the progression of the story. My student acknowledged Ms. Roberts' lack of attention to what her character really wanted to do in that scene, but then pointed out the scene toward the end of the film in which Ms. Roberts brought the Chagall painting to Mr. Grant's character and spoke lines to the effect: "...I'm just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." My student was moved by Ms. Roberts' performance in that scene, as was I, which gave me the opportunity to emphasize again that when technique isn't mastered, actors will perform correctly only when what their character is saying resonates for them; they make the connection easily. Their entire performance tends to look like this: ----/\----/\---/\, or, to put it in words: The straight lines represent a scene (or section of a scene) that holds no interest for the actor and we all wait for it to be over, and the peaks represent those moments when the actor comes alive, and we're all captivated, moved, and engaged in what the character wants.