Actors Need To Be Great Listeners
Rainn Wilson is an actor best known for his role as the egomaniacal Dwight Schrute in the NBC sitcom "The Office." He grew up in Seattle, Wash., as a member of the Baha'i faith, and attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is the founder of the Web site Soul Pancake (and the recently published book of the same name).
Question: What do actors know about communication that the rest of us don’t?
Rainn Wilson: I don’t think actors know diddlysquat about communication. I really don’t. I think that actors are terrible communicators as people by and large. I think our tendency is to kind of be self-centered and tune people out and just kind of get really me-focused, so I think communication for actors is a big challenge actually. I'll tell you. I'm a much better listener when I'm acting than I am as a person in real life because you learn as an actor that listening is so important. You have to really key into what the other person you’re acting with is saying and how they’re saying it and react in the moment to what is going on. I'm much more "in the moment" when I'm acting. I can be in my life I'm just like uh, and then I'm acting and going foom. You know I just zero in and clock in and I've noticed that about a lot of actors. A lot of actors are just like la la la—they’re never really connected and then they’re in the scene and then boom. They’re looking you in the eyes and they’re just really focused.
Recorded November 11, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler
"You have to really key into what the other person you’re acting with is saying and how they’re saying it, and react in the moment to what is going on," says Wilson.
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