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Stephen Fry talks about acting

StephenFry.jpgStephen Fry has said that British actors may well be overrated by Americans, most likely because of their accents, and suggests that perhaps the accent hides poor performances. With that he also has praise for his fellow actors in America.

Speaking recently regarding his recent stint on US television in the series Bones he talked about his view of British actors in America. He wrote the following in the Radio Times:

"...sometimes wonder if Americans aren't fooled by our accent into detecting a brilliance that may not really be there. When American TV and movies call for a twist of limey in their cocktail, it's usually a character they're after: supervillain, emotionally constipated academic, effete eccentric, that kind of thing...

...Would they notice if Jeremy Irons or Judi Dench gave a bad performance?...Not that those two paragons ever would, but it's worth considering."

It's an interesting thought, and I do believe that the English accent does suggest a lot when it is first heard. In American programmes and films it is often used as an evil, manipulative or slimey character. An English accent does make a good sounding baddie.

Talking about his recent turn on US television through The Guardian he does have praise for the way American actors work.

"I've always believed Americans have one huge, ready-made gift when it comes to acting in front of a camera: the ability to relax. I think of it as comparable to the difference between, say, Tony Bennett and Luciano Pavarotti ... On the set of Bones I have been amazed and impressed by the naturalness of the cast, and berate myself for sounding as if I'm speechifying instead of talking."

Another interesting point (boy I love Stephen Fry!), with a properly trained English stage actor there can be tendancy to act the whole role, while American actors tend to learn more by being and doing, less by performing, and I think that is something that often comes across in films.

I love the more natural and effortless performances of some actors, Gene Hackman is someone I would class in that grouping, but at the same time there are British actors who have a similar style, Ray Winstone for example is someone I find glides through his performance on screen.

How do you feel about the American and British acting divide? Do you identify with what Fry is saying about the performances and accents? Is it an issue for you as an audience member?



This will be a good topic for a future feature, who's the better actors, American or British?

I suppose the edge of the British actors is that most of them have had stage training unlike some of their American counterparts. British greats like Olivier, Burton, Gielgud, O'Toole all started in the theater first, I have not heard of so many Hollywood A-listers who has had successful stints on stage giving them that proper training and discipline. At least Pacino recognizes that need to go back to its roots since he has been doing a lot of Shakespeare work in the last 10 years.

Caught this from the Guardian blog and I just had to add it to our discussion here.

Fry suggests that Americans have an inbuilt ability to relax in front of the camera, a quality that evades homegrown performers. He contrasts the "supreme relaxed authenticity of a James Stewart or a George Clooney" with the "brittle contrivances of a Laurence Olivier or a Kenneth Branagh, marvellous as they are."

Surely Fry is not serious to mention George Clooney in the same breath as James Stewart or even in the same sentence with Olivier and Branagh? Has he actually seen Clooney act? I know I havent, can Clooney act anyway? Oppppssss!

Now what I think about this comment of his regarding the British accent is more self-deprecation really, he's in America when this interview was done, so make his American counterparts feel good that British talent is not that good really.


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