On the eve of Nicole Kidman’s marriage Downunder to fellow Aussie Keith Urban, I thought it might be timely to use her career path as inspiration for student acting and classroom drama in education.
Kidman has carved a career over more than two decades in a variety of film roles ranging from Dead Calm (1989) to Days of Thunder (1990) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999) to The Hours (2002) and The Interpreter (2005).
Sure, she has made the odd career blunder like The Stepford Wives (2004) and Bewitched (2005), but she has also taken career risks on smaller projects that have received critical acclaim such as Dogville (2003), The Human Stain (2003) and Birth (2004).
And so it is in the classroom, as it is with Nicole Kidman on screen. I now say to my Drama students who are forging their own acting career at high school:
‘Never play the same character twice’.
It is so easy in Drama to play a new character on script, with completely different lines, in the same manner as a previous character. When Drama students are learning their craft, they should be wary never to repeat the same gestures, movements and facial expressions as in previous roles.
My experience is that firstly a Drama student usually doesn’t realise this themselves and so it is the teacher who needs to be on the ball to spot it and tell the pupil. Secondly, in nearly all cases, making a student actor aware of this will propel them into a zone where they will be forced to explore new and exciting territory in their performance making.
Similar to my previous post about taking risks in Drama, we would be wise to follow Nicole Kidman’s career example, where she has deliberately taken many risks in her film career and I’m sure most of us would agree the majority of these have paid off. What’s more, she is no doubt aware her acting improves each time she plays a role completely different to ones she has portrayed before.
At the other end of the spectrum, as much as I love Al Pacino and Harrison Ford, for years now these guys play the same role in each new movie, masqueraded by a different script and nothing else. Worse still, many say ‘that’s Al Pacino playing … Al Pacino … yet again’.
So, in summary, versatility is the key to success in acting. And when an actor leaves high school and gets some degree of choice in roles to be played, not only do these need to be portrayed differently each time, but the actor must make careful decisions on accepting and refusing various role offers in order to wisely carve a successful and stimulating career.