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Dr Arnold Bloomberg: Acting is like a triangle without corners

arnold-bloombergMethod acting is a technique used by many leading Hollywood actors. Everybody from De Niro to Hoffman uses it. One of the leading teachers of method acting working today is Arnold Bloomberg of the Bloomberg Academy of Drama in New York. Dr Andrew Cousins, went to learn more.

AC: What is your fundamental approach to acting?

AB: For me acting isn't just about pretending to be somebody else. It's about becoming a physical and mental actualisation of a character. Acting is in many ways like a triangle with no corners.

AC: Does method acting make for better acting?

AB: Let me put it like this. My job is to take an actor on a journey. That journey is from the place known as ‘bad acting' to the place known as ‘good acting'. The place known as ‘bad acting' is where people like Lou Diamond Phillips hang out and it's a very scary place.


AC: But does method acting make for better acting?

AB: Acting is very much like a television with no screen.

AC: Er, you taught Harrison Ford. What was he like to work with?

AB: Ah, Harrison. When he came to me he was still a carpenter. He said that he wanted to be an actor. I asked him to read a scene for me. He did a piece from Death of a Salesman. He was quite good. I said, "Keep doing that. But point your finger at people more often when you do it". Then I got him to put some shelves up for me. They're good shelves.

AC: Hitchcock once remarked that ‘actors are like cattle'. Do you agree with that?

AB: Let me put it like this. Actors are like children. They have to be coaxed and encouraged. Sometimes they need to be spanked. Acting is very much like a unicycle with two wheels.

AC: You never became an actor yourself. Why was that?

AB: Maybe my ship never came in. Maybe my cards never fell in the right way. Maybe casting directors in this town are a bunch of near-sighted jerks who couldn't recognise talent if it bit them on the ass. Acting is a bit like mind reading with no mind.

AC: You did once appear in a television commercial though.

AB: Yeah. I was the voice of Tony the Tiger. They just wanted me to come in and say "Grreeeeeat!". I spent a week at the zoo observing how tigers interact with each other. How would a tiger say "grreeeeeeeat!" if presented with a bowl of sugar frosted cornflakes? That's the problem with Hollywood today. There's no artistry anymore. Acting is an art form. It's like painting with no paint. Or brush.

AC: So you're not a fan of modern Hollywood then?

AB: What was that film? Entrapment? People said that it was ridiculous that Sean Connery ended up with Catherine Zeta Jones in it. For me the most ridiculous thing in it was the dead animal sellotaped to Sean's scalp. People go on and on about digital technology. Show me the camera that can make a wig look convincing on Sean Connery and then I'll be impressed.

Dr Andrew Cousins is currently on a nationwide lecture series entitled: "Cinema is a Cruel Mistress"