Javier Bardem, the "hot" Spanish actor of "Eat, Pray, Love," comes from an acting family. He is, as Sunday's NYTimes says, an actor who builds his roles.
To get to the art, one must work very hard. Art doesn't exist just as talent. It exists as effort, work and judgment.
--Javier Bardem, NYTimes, in The Actor as Architect of a Role, by Larry Rohter
Rohter's fascinating essay takes the perspective of actors as architects. The comparison is intriguing, emphasizing the process of thoughtful, detailed and systematic development. What's more intriguing is that growing up as the son of a great actress, he learned the value of deliberate practice from his mother at an early age. When his mother was learning a character, Bardem would read the other characters to her. He was fascinated listening to her. She'd begin to speak, thenstop and correct herself. Go back to the beginning, and go over and over the same process until she had control of the role, and then "she would fly."
Bardem creates the character like an architect builds a building: drawing the plans, laying the foundation, and gradually building up. Once this is complete, Bardem says, then you decide on the walls, the materials and the colors. Bardem, in spite of his great success, continues to work with an acting coach, gaining the insight and feedback that are necessary for expertise.
How Bardem creates a character and architects build buildings is identical to what all expertise requires. In a number of blogs on deliberate practice, I emphasize the same details. In my blog, on changing your personality, deliberate practice includes five phases:
- Crystallization of discontent
- Extensive practice, practice, practice
- Mentoring and coaching
- Adaptation to feedback
- Integration of behaviors
Sounds just like Bardem? The model works for all of us.