Follow Your Instincts

A little advice from Ozark star Jason Bateman. Follow your instincts. It may seem like an, “Easy for you to say moment”, as he has been acting since he was a teenager. However, the instincts of an actor are a powerful thing. Especially when the all too familiar question comes to mind. “Did I do good?” Here’s what he has to say on the topic.

“There’s an internal smell check. It just stinks when it’s not right; you can sense it… you just self cut. If you’re doing something that just sucks, the last thing you want to do is give the editor or director a complete take of what sucks, so you just stop. And if you’re brave enough to watch yourself, it’s a great learning tool. There are times when I’ll think I’m doing well but it’s just terrible, so whatever that feeling was I’ve given myself a false positive and I have to reassess what that feeling is.”

“The acting is a solitary thing — yes, you are working with other actors and you’re kind of in a dance with members of the crew, but you can be selfish with your efforts. There’s a lot of internal stuff going on with that and there’s a lot of joy in that. A weird analogy would be, the joy you would get painting something — there’s really only something you’re communicating with yourself as you’re painting and then eventually you show it to somebody and they see the final product.”

“If you can remember the days of auditioning when you prepare and try and you’ve got it all worked out and you think, ‘If I could just be in control of my nerves enough to do what I rehearsed, I don’t care whether I get the job or not. I just want to make sure that I can execute and not get distracted by the weight of the situation.’ Any scenes like that, there are so many things that can knock you off your center of your basic job of not being full of s—, and it’s hard to compartmentalize all of that stuff. You can’t just turn off and not be human. You’re feeling pressure and insecurity, and at the same time you might be playing a scene where your character’s supposed to be confident as hell.”

Take his words as you will, but there is the bottom line of— trust your instincts. Let them guide you. You’re an actor. You’re not learning to be, you’re not almost an actor, the moment you start acting— you’re an actor. This is your craft. Follow your instincts, and if they’re wrong you can learn the right ones. Perfect your art. Every actor that you look up to has their own different way of expression because they have a different person to express. You are you, and your roles are your roles. Make them yours, follow your instincts, and good luck out there.

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