Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Acting from the outside in

with 3 comments

Laurence Olivier as Hamlet

I’ve frequently observed things, and thank God, if I haven’t got a very good memory for anything else, I’ve got a memory for little details. I’ve had things in the back of my mind for as long as eighteen years before I’ve used them. And it works sometimes that, out of one little thing that you’ve seen somebody do, something causes you to store it up. In the years that follow you wonder what it was that made them do it, and, ultimately, you find in that the illuminating key to a whole bit of characterization…

And so, with one or two extraneous externals, I [begin] to build up a character, a characterization. I’m afraid I do work mostly from the outside in. I usually collect a lot of details, a lot of characteristics, and find a creature swimming about somewhere in the middle of them.

Laurence Olivier

Written by nevalalee

February 14, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Quote of the Day, Theater

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3 Responses

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  1. What a unique perspective on the craft!


    February 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm

  2. It’s the Marathon Man story, somewhat, I guess.


    February 17, 2015 at 4:41 am

  3. One of my favorites. (Later in the same interview, he contrasts his own approach to the Method school, but hints that they’re both trying to hit at the same kind of truth—just from opposite directions.)


    February 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm

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