Stephen Trinkle wrote:
I heard that Sir Lawrence Olivier, observing Dustin Hoffman going through his Method exercises preparing for Marathon Man, bemusedly inquired, "Wouldn't it be easier to simply act?"
Great story. The Stanislavsky method took hold in North America at least a generation before it took hold in Britain, so it makes sense that Olivier would have been trained in British "technical" acting rather than Stanislavskian "emotional" acting.
"Wouldn't it be easier to simply act?" Well, presumably this depends on how analytical or emotional you are. I'm sure some people would find it easier to mimic external forms ("British" acting), while others find it easier to generate the internal emotion and let the forms flow out of that ("method" acting). Actually, I work in theater (doing musical direction and such) and this is something I come up against with some frequency. My guess is that it's initially easier to do the "British" thing, but that "method" acting is more scalable and more rewarding later.
I know that this has so far seemed to be an off-topic ramble, but these principles also apply to martial arts. Some arts -- and some instructors -- will go for the external approach to generate the internal; some will go for the internal approach to generate the external. (And, as with the "be a tree" "method" teacher, there are some people around who are simply clueless.) I don't think either way is necessarily the "right" or "wrong" way. Who was a better actor, Olivier or Hoffman? I certainly wouldn't like to answer that question, and I don't think we have to, either in theater or in aikido.
P.S. In all the time I've worked in theater, I've never
heard anyone say "never hire a method actor". Seems a pretty silly aphorism.