Would an actor who had, say, done voice work for computer games such as Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Left 4 Dead, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Infamous, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2, The Matrix Online, The Suffering, The Suffering: Ties That Bind, No One Lives Forever, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.RM.’s Way and many, many others have some sort of inside track on writing science fiction? Or is this endless listing of credits simply a shameless attempt to get more hits on my blog?
Well, it’s not shameless. I do feel some shame.
Is an actor who is married to Ellen McLain, the actress who voices the passive-aggresive computer GlaDOS in the mega-hit game Portal and the much-anticipated Portal 2, intrinsically better able to write sterling prose? Or is this simply a blatant attempt to exploit my wife’s web cred to attract more attention to my own career and get more hits on my blog?
Fair enough. That was pretty blatant.
Is someone who would stoop to such tactics worthy of the public trust?
Hey, I’m not running for office, I just wrote a book.
Speaking of writing and acting, now that that orgy of self-promotion has exhausted itself: how do acting and writing play off one another? Is there cross-over between the skills of writing and composing music? Having been an actor, a composer and an improvisor both musically and verbally I would venture to say that all of these disciplines feed each other. The one craft that all of these arts share is listening. Listening is central to the actor’s craft. It is vital to composers. And it is crucial to any writer who wants to illuminate human behavior. Nothing is more beautiful than truth. Nothing is funnier. Nothing is more tragic. And truth is so illusive even when we do listen that anyone studying what it is to be human can’t listen enough. In any conversation we fail to listen about half the time.
And when we speak, as actors, musicians, or writers, the only currency we have to offer is honesty. The more we expose that which we wish to hide the more value we can offer the audience, whether they are in a theater, a concert hall, or curled up with a good book. The difference between psychology and acting is the difference between looking at the ocean and looking at a painting of the ocean. When we look at the ocean we see a beautiful ocean. When we look at a painting of the ocean we see that someone else sees the same ocean we do. We see that we’re not alone.
The task, the obligation, of the actor, the composer, the musician, the writer is to let the audience see themselves, laugh at themselves, grieve for themselves, applaud themselves. It is a small service, but, as artists, it’s all we have to offer.