Most of us take acting for granted. I mean, we go to the movies and see a film and then drive home go and do something else. The same with TV, we flip through the channels until we find something that interests us and then we’re off again doing something else without really savoring the experience that was just shared with us. We were watching Michelle Nordlander’s acting reel the other night and it hit us right between the eyes that here was a young woman who seemed like she wasn’t acting at all. Each scene we saw her in felt so real that we felt a bit self-conscious watching because it was like we were invading this woman’s privacy. She cried in one scene and talked to her girlfriends in other scenes and then spoke to a young man who appeared to truly like her in a romantic way. That was a very simple yet highly sophisticated piece of work by Michelle who reigned her character’s feelings in and sort of skirted the possibility of any romantic liaison.
These were all snippets from longer films but to us they were slices of life – of real life. Michelle’s superb command of her acting skills allowed us not only to savor her brilliant performances but she enabled us to feel her emotions as she went through them herself during filming. Those were magical moments for us and hopefully for her and the actors in her scenes. Her talents raised the quality of each scene from simple dialogue to a meaningful engagement between real live people.
“How does she do that?” is a comment she probably hears a lot. We wonder how she does it too. How does Meryl Streep do it, and de Niro and DiCaprio and Nordlander? How DO they do it? It’s actors like these (and many others) who force us not to take acting for granted. They don’t take it for granted – they couldn’t be more serious about it. When we see any of their performances, we watch and we stare and we feel and we cry and we laugh and we get angry with them because the minute they walk into a scene they are the characters that they are portraying. There is no pretending, no acting, no mimicking – it is all truth. They are who we think they are on the big screen. Thank goodness for great actors!