Before I get to the meat of my post, allow me to establish my bona fides. The acting community has no greater patron than Yours Truly. In 2008 I saw 28 plays. Better than two per month! The only people who saw more plays than I did were theater critics. I’m a fan of Mr. Douche Bag—I mean Mr. Hoffman. Back in 1997 I saw him in a small play about the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger called Defying Gravity and in 2000 I was lucky enough to see him and John C. Reilly in Sam Shepard’s True West. I’ve seen most of his films—even the obscure ones like Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. I like his work a lot.
The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover article was a fluff piece on Philip Seymour Hoffman. In it, Mr. Hoffman says:
“…for me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing.”
In the same article, Dustin Hoffman is quoted as saying this about playing Jamie Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night on Broadway:
“It nearly killed me.”
I can’t stand listening to actors prattle on about how dangerous their work is. And I don’t think they’re speaking in metaphor. Do you know what can nearly kill you? Patrolling the streets of Kandahar. Do you want to see some torture? Visit your local ER and/or ICU.
Do you know what I really love? When actors talk about the characters they play as though they actually existed. It’s fiction. It’s not real.
I will continue to patronize the theater. I love it too much to abandon it. But sometimes I wish actors would spend more time outside of the thespian community and acquire some perspective.
Know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.