Monday, February 21, 2011

STAR LOVEMAKING

Here's part of the discussion that David Ansen had with the film stars who've been nominated for Oscars. Ansen is Newsweek's senior writer, best known for his film reviews.

He asked Annette Bening how she felt about having a relationship with actress Julianne Moore’s character in The Kids Are All Right.

ANNETTE BENING: "Oh, that was easy. It was completely intuitive, and she’s just a joy. Colin knows. It is funny, being in love with people, or in our case pretending to be in love with people. Sometimes it’s quite challenging and that’s your job."

The King's Speech star, COLIN FIRTH: "The worst obstacle to acting in love is really being in love with the other person. Because it’s not controllable. There is no way to harness that and turn it into something that’s useful to you."

BENING: "I remember being in acting class, and someone was talking about that, and he was very practical about it — especially if you have an aversion to that person, which can happen. He said, you’ve got to get over it. One of the words was “substitution. ' You take the head of the person that’s actually there, and …' "

FIRTH: "You 'photoshop' it."

BENING: You 'photoshop' another head! [Laughter] Seriously. And then you fake it.

Newsweek's ANSEN: "Care to give any examples?"

Rabbit Hole star, NICOLE KIDMAN: "Last Tango.'"

Newsweek's ANSEN: "Nicole, do you have any thoughts?"

KIDMAN: "What’s the question?"

BENING: "Sex."

KIDMAN: "For me, it’s different every time. If the film is worthy, I’m willing to explore. I don’t have any set rules. I try to stay open and that’s it. As long as I have a director that I don’t feel is exploiting me or is going to abuse me."

Newsweek's ANSEN: "Is there a secret to landing a good kiss?"

KIDMAN: "So much of that is how you capture it. Baz Luhrmann [director] has a particular way of setting up a kiss. On 'Moulin Rouge,' he was extremely precise, because he revered old movies and those big screen kisses. I remember when Ewan McGregor and I were first rehearsing. I was like, 'That felt really good.' And Baz was like, 'No, no.'"

The discussion in Newsweek reminded me of how I felt when I was choreographing an actress in a play written by a personal friend, a director-playwright.

The play was about Isadora Duncan at the end of her life, when she was drinking, bringing home a different man every night. Louise L, the actress playing "Isadora" hadn't made it yet as an actress [she did later on], but she was a lovely thirty-something blond, and was always ready, willing and able to rehearse.

Though Louise L . had no dance training, I got her to walk in a circle -- "Start as a child reaching for something -- like fireflies. And as you progress, become a teenager, patting and primping. Then, a young woman meeting important people and gradually an older woman, tired, wanting to stop and rest."

Louise did it well.

What stunned me were the love scenes. Over and over, they rehearsed caresses and kisses. It was middle of the summer. The rehearsal room wasn't air conditioned. One actor [always with his back to the audience], was playing all the lovers. My playwright-director friend created a series of men by stylizing the actor's posture and varying the degree of passion and positions for kisses, caresses, and lovemaking.

Hours -- punishing, demanding, hours and hours -- were spent. Every so often, Louise took a quick break, gulped water, and went back to the mouth-open, greedy kisses and steamy lovemaking.

I can practice strenuous choreography -- high kicks and leaps again and again, but kissing? My playwright-director friend guided them -- "Make it real, my dears. Try the embrace again. More lustfully. Try it again."

What I watched forever turned me off to the idea of ever becoming a stage actress.

The three Oscar nominated actors and the others -- Blue Valentine's star, Michelle Williams, James Franco of 127 Hours, and Black Swan's Natalie Portman -- all seemed to understand that "photoshopping," faking, making a love scene perfect, doing it and re-doing it until the director was satisfied, was just part of the job.

Yes, these six actors are lucky to have achieved what they've achieved, but to be at the moment on the moment, do the work of their work, make it effortless, make it real -- that's tough, not fun, quite often hellishly unpleasant, hard work!

Think about that when you are wishing that you had the fame and fortune and luck of the star on the screen, or on the stage.

2 comments:

Linda Phillips said...

Only had one kiss in one play and fortunately he was a friend so it was comfortable. I've often thought how dreadful it might be if you had a love scene with an actor with horrible breath or body odor. Yuck. Lucky for me, I only acted professionally from age 3 to age 18. Then I became a commercial interior designer and never had to kiss a carpet salesman or a woodwork contractor. ;-)

Carola said...

I just saw Annette Benning in The Kids are All Right. I didn't like the movie that much, but she was great. And I'm with you--I could never do fake kissing.

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