It's awards season and my wife likes to watch the awards, so I watch them with her when they come around. One thing I love about the awards shows like the Grammys, the Emmys, the Golden Globes and the Oscars, is that everyone is absolutely gushing with gratitude. It is one of the few forums I see where that can happen on TV.
I've seen a bit of what goes on in film and TV production, you know, by watching the "making of" documentaries that we usually find on the bonus disk for DVDs. There's production to be sure, but there is time spent waiting for the director to call everyone to the set while he preps. I've seen interviews of actors where they say that although they love acting for film, a lot of time is spent waiting.
Actors do research into their character. They visit with people who resemble the characters they are about to portray. They get to see how people live and then re-enact that for us on the screen. They find ways to be the character they are going to portray. They go to places where they would not ordinarily go to see how they lived.
When we see the finished production, if a movie is good, we forget all that, all of our troubles, worries and get absorbed into the plot that unfolds. I saw that with movies like True Grit, Ronin and Contact. They are great movies with great actors and crew.
So when I watch the awards, it's all teamwork. Everyone is grateful to be there. I see the smiles, the anticipation, the hopes, and the camaraderie. They are all there to have a good time.
I also love to see actors reveling in their roles. My favorite example is Alec Baldwin in The Shadow. Sure, critics panned the writing and the plot, but you know what? Alec truly reveled in the role. I don't think I've ever seen an actor having such a great time. Here is a serious actor who seems to have done a movie more for fun than anything else.
Then there are the bit parts that actors will do for fun. The best example is Young Frankenstein. During the casting for that movie, Gene Hackman heard about it and called Gene Wilder to ask if he could be in it. He was looking for a bit part because he knew it would be fun. You'll have to see the movie to see where he is, but you would never know it unless you looked at the credits.
Actors do their job because they love it. Some will even admit that they would do it anyway, regardless of the money. I've watch Inside the Actors Studio to see them recount this first hand. Every actor on that show will recount how they were bitten by the acting bug and just could not let it go. They had to do it again, and again, and again.
That's why George Burns was still doing standup until he was 100. That's why Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood carried the torch well into their 80s. They just can't stop.
Dedication like that is what keeps a talent alive and worth living for.