What does it mean to be a “fit” actor? To me, it means you are ready to work – Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready to fill a role. Different actors will need different kinds of fitness for success and each role needs its own kind of preparation.
Life teaches so many lessons. Sometimes, life needs to be lived a little to prepare us for exceedingly challenging roles. And by challenging, I am talking about emotional depth. Now, perhaps, you don’t have to have experienced the kind of loss and betrayal Hamlet did in order to play the role, but you do, I believe, need to have something to draw from (life experience), personally, to go through that journey and play that part well. Now, life experience does not grow on trees and you can’t go to the gym to earn more of it, but, with time, we all grow, learn, change, grieve, and rejoice. These experiences make actors more able to portray rich characters with real emotional depth. Characters who go through great challenges and achieve great heights.
An actor’s body is an important tool. Since we are selling a product – our talent (to be crass) – has to be attractively packaged. Now, this does not mean that men must look like Ryan Gosling and women must look like Halle Berry, but the body has to be ready to perform the tasks which will be asked of it. In order to keep the body ready for work, a few things should be tended to. Below are a few things that have worked for me:
- A routine.
- 8+ hours of sleep per night.
- Working out at a gym.
- Working out at home (P90X).
- Daily walking (3+ miles per day).
- Attempting new physical things – snowboarding, dancing, ice skating, shooting, etc.
The path of the actor is treacherous, emotionally and spiritually. To stay the course you need strength, support, finances, and a good spirit. In order to prevail in the face of many obstacles, and to succeed in an incredibly competitive field, an actor needs to take care of his spirit. For me, this means:
- Having a life outside of the biz.
- Being socially active.
- Having non-actor friends and pursuits.
- Spending time with family.
- Living in the now.
- Hanging out with dogs.