Why actors should stick to reading from scripts

While I was writing my post about The Death of Stalin I came across this interview with Jason Isaacs, who plays Marshall Zhukov. It starts well enough, but pretty soon we get this from Isaacs after the interviewer successfully turns the whole thing into an exercise in Trump-bashing:

Well, the question we get the most now is if [Iannucci] made this [film] about President Trump. The answer is no. It’s timeless. It’s about any time there’s a situation where there’s irrational and terrifying behavior happening. One of the things about the film that I think has worked so well for audiences is that although it’s specifically about the panic and terror in the shadows of Stalin – and the power vacuum that emerged when he died – it’s applicable to so many other situations and so many different countries and politicians of all stripes. We made it in June 2016, so at the time, it felt like it was about Brexit.

Sure, the height of Stalin’s terror was just like Brexit. Little wonder actors are considered to be nothing more than people paid to read someone else’s words while looking beautiful. He goes on:

I think many people understand there was a big smoke-and-mirrors act just over a year ago and that the person in the White House is not who he said he was and is unable to do the things he said he could do.

Erm, he’s Donald Trump. He’s been a household name and media darling since the 1980s. Here’s the next “question”:

It seems like British leaders are acting like the adults in the room when it comes to anything Russia-related in comparison to Trump.

Yeah? Here’s a clip of the British defence secretary addressing Russia:

A more child-like performance is hard to imagine. Here’s Isaacs’ response:


Well, we just had a couple of people poisoned on British soil and the Prime Minister (Theresa May) made as strong of a response as she could.

Hurrah for Theresa! But did Russia pay any attention? No.

Every day it seems more surreal and transparent that something really corrupt and dangerous is going on at the heart of American politics.

You mean the attempts by the CIA, FBI, and DoJ to prevent Trump becoming president and unseat him after the election by claiming he’s a Russian agent? Ah no.

It’s important to be reminded that the people who stand up there pretending to be able leaders are often power-grabbing, narcissistic children behind closed doors.

He could easily be describing Obama or the so-called leaders of the EU. Either way, it’s hard to accuse Trump of power-grabbing when he seems keen on rolling back executive overreach, reducing the authority of bodies like the EPA, and returning power to Congress.

Knowing that, we can then interpret that and act accordingly.

Indeed, it’s best you stick to acting. Isaacs’ portayal of Zhukov was good, but I suspect the great Marshall would be a little disappointed he’s being played by someone so dim, and more than a little wet.

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19 thoughts on “Why actors should stick to reading from scripts

  1. The question is, are the writers just as dim? Or do they just know that they have to pretend that their film about communists is actually about Brexit/Trump/Bush, else they’d be ran out of Hollywood?

  2. The question is, are the writers just as dim?

    In this case, I suspect the writers knew the subject well but were happy to let idiots supplement the marketing efforts by drawing parallels which aren’t there. The Handmaid’s Tale is a great example of this: Atwood knows damned well her world is not like life under Trump, but provided people keep watching it while pretending it is…kerr-ching!

  3. He’s still brilliant in the new ‘Star Trek Discovery’. At least, right up to the second to last episode.

    But then, unlike the SJWs, I don’t demand performers share my views before watching/reading/listening to them.

  4. But then, unlike the SJWs, I don’t demand performers share my views before watching/reading/listening to them.

    Indeed, I know several authors, directors, and actors whose professional works I admire enormously but as people I can’t stand. Meh.

  5. “Indeed, I know several authors, directors, and actors whose professional works I admire enormously but as people I can’t stand. Meh.”

    De Niro, for example.

    Although pretty much everything from Meet the Fokkers onwards has been shite.

  6. I didn’t get any timeless insights or lessons into politics from watching the death of Stalin.

    I got entertained with an artistic licensed dark comedy surrrounding his death, nothing more.

    It didn’t really even illuminate how the Stalinist period came to be or maintained itself on anything but a surface level.

    That is okay. I wasn’t expecting that.

    To draw comparisons with other politics is mental. It really ducking isn’t and anyone claiming such is either a liar or so stupid they don’t understand anything beyond ‘bad things can relate to other bad things because they are both bad things’

  7. I watched The Death of Stalin on your recommendation, Tim. Apart from the portrait of Beria I found it a wooden farce. Zhukov the most wooden of the lot.

  8. I watched The Death of Stalin on your recommendation, Tim. Apart from the portrait of Beria I found it a wooden farce.

    Oh. Sorry about that. I guess I owe you a couple of hours.

  9. I watched it based on your recommendation, as well. Beria was definitely the strongest character, but Zhukov added some much-needed punch to the movie. I’m not sure how “wooden” could be chosen for him. It was not a great movie, but it wasn’t a waste of time for me. I’m a sucker for anything related to Stalin, so it was useful for me.
    As for the political comments mentioned in your post, I do have a filter for what I consume when the entertainers go beyond the pale. This guy just recited the boring script, so I usually ignore it. The whole industry is tainted, so it can be exhausting. Fortunately, I’ve considered most movies to be unwatchable, and skip them regardless of politics.

  10. Same with musicians. I was at Cambridge Folk Festival this weekend. PattI Smith made a point about yesterday being Obama”s birthday and wished him back in office – meh! If I wanted to hear a sermon I’d go to a U2 concert.

    That said, Patti Smith’s set was brilliant. She still knows how to rock.

  11. @Tim Newman on August 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm,

    +1

    R Brand, E Izzard and H Grant have been good as actors in many docu-dramas/movies, can’t stand them as individuals.

    Had a tough time persuading my mother to watch some they were in – she liked too.

  12. Never listen to the thoughts of actors, even the ones that aren’t obvious halfwits. They can bear even less reality than the rest of mankind.

  13. “It didn’t really even illuminate how the Stalinist period came to be or maintained itself on anything but a surface level”

    Why did you expect a film called “The Death of Stalin” to fulfil those requirements? As a description, the title was exact.

    It showed the state of fear of a whole nation. Because the leader wanted to hear a recording of a concert which had not been recorded, the concert was re-performed because no one dared to tell the truth. The KGB was meanwhile busy rounding up enemies of the people because that is what they did.

    Etc etc

    It conveyed something of the fear and authoritarianism of that society, along with its doublethink: so Molotov was both glad to see his wife again while agreeing that the party had been right to imprison her.

    So I am happy that the film met its objectives. If you wanted a documentary or a historical analysis, then why did you watch it, unless you are a paint-sniffing wank puffin?

  14. Think back to high school. Remember those kids that tried out for every theater production the school drama club put on?

    Successful actors are generally just the prettiest of that lot.

    If I wanted political advice, I’d sooner listen to the chess club.

  15. RH: Whoaaaa! No need for the abuse.

    Molotov wasn’t really being insulting, he was making a quite funny reference to some recent comment activity here.

    Something from a discussion with, what I believe, is our host’s Offendobot, an AI construct to push up his page hits and advertising revenue. Who said AI couldn’t do anything useful! The Honeybodger is a perfect example of how to utilise current AI.

    Well, I found Molotov’s aside funny, anyway.

  16. @Tim the Coder

    Well perhaps, but it was hard to see the meta joke when someone willfully misquotes you then implies the opposite of what I wrote.

    It wasnt too hard to read the next line of what I wrote:

    “It didn’t really even illuminate how the Stalinist period came to be or maintained itself on anything but a surface level.

    That is okay. I wasn’t expecting that.”

    So literally the opposite of what Molotov ended up implying.

  17. Henry Crun:

    I was at Cambridge Folk Festival this weekend. PattI Smith made a point about yesterday being Obama”s birthday and wished him back in office…

    … [her] set was brilliant. She still knows how to rock.

    That’s nice. Does she still do “Rock and Roll Nigger”, I wonder?

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