Head Case: Actors Acting Against Their Best Interests

Article Image

Often in my private one-on-one classes there comes a point when I realize that the actor sitting in front of me is too much in their head. To borrow and mangle-by-paraphrase Arthur Miller: Their craniums are living thoughts of quiet desperation with destructive speculations ricocheting off one another:

Is there something wrong I'm doing that is causing my career not to flourish?

Why am I not getting to the goals I want?

Failure must be my fault.

I suck.

Just like my actor-students, we all at some point in our journey pull ourselves into these destructive weigh-stations of negative reflection. Yet when that nagging inner-voice routes its phantom calling to our cranium, we sometimes have the tendency to wallow in the false comfort of empty self-pity. There is no substance within the wretched thoughts to offering the soul healthy nourishment.

Recently I was hibernating in the mountains. I went there with the intent on completing a manuscript project. As days of solitude passed I found my mind was lonely for company and began...

And… that's where I stopped. Literally. Writing this post ceased. Several months ago. I got lost in my head as I was writing about others getting lost within their head. (Oh doctor? Heal thyself.)

I toiled on and off on my project (still not complete but progress is being made). I sulked, channel-surfed the 900-plus offerings on my mountain cable, and wondered why people wander Craigslist as I myself was doing the same. I was getting nothing done fast. Doubts, anxiety and a constant nagging in my head of what's next? plagued me. I bet something similar has happened to you at least once. (If not, please share the pills you're taking with the rest of the class.)

Aside from stimulants (legal and non), there is a way for you to get out of your head and back to life. First realize that everyone goes through similar. No one, not cocksure politicians, celebrities or all-star athletes is exempt from having doubts about their abilities or future.

So if it is any comfort -- the S.S. Self Doubt is decks full of people just like you. Once you realize that then look for ways to sink the ship. Don't wallow on an endless journey that has no final destination other than death. Find channels for improvement on your course that is life.

If that doesn't completely soothe the synapses into some form of sanity then it's time to get out into the world to get out of your head. And that's exactly what I did several days after I stopped my initial writing of this post. Below is a note that I posted on my Facebook account when I returned from an outing in my mountain home region.

Denial Bile

Ya know sometimes ya just gotta say to yourself, Screw it! I'm not going to deny myself some fun and partake in life's pleasures.

Like many in the arts, I've always been pulling coin together to get by. As my brother often says of me, "Russ, you can squeeze a penny to last a week." Why, yes. Yes I can.

And so today I gave myself a present -- a day at Camelback, a popular ski resort in the Poconos. Back on the slopes after a four-year absence. Back to doing something from my youth. Getting on two slivers of waxed wood and heading down the side of a mountain at suicidal speeds. So what if the day cost me a hundred bucks? I had fun. Cold frigid fun. But fun nonetheless. (And some of those snow boarders are irritatingly cute.)

And so I got to thinking about how many of my entertainment friends and yet-to-be arts acquaintances deny themselves a pleasure that would make them happy because they fear not having money afterward.

Ya know what? Screw it. You gotta live once in awhile. For if not; then you're already in the grave.

So go out and do something indulgent. Something just for yourself. I dare ya. (Oh, man am I gonna hurt tomorrow morning.)

But I had fun acquiring the soon-to-come soreness.

Tylenol anyone?


Besos, Paul

And for days after I was out of my head; living once more. Pain free in both body and spirit.

So if you find yourself one day being plagued by the Eeyore "Woe is me" inner voice tell him/her to f__k-off and to find refuge elsewhere. You have a life to live. Get out of your head and out into life. 'Nuff said.

My Best, Paul

Paul Russell's career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. He is the author of "ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor." For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.