Top 5 Famous Acting Quotes From Actors And Why They Matter

philip seymour hoffman quote on acting

People love to pick the brains of experts in hope of uncovering some secret recipe for success in a given field. Have a political question? Ask a former President. Want to know how to manage your money? Warren Buffet knows a thing or two. Need to know what acting really is? Ask a successful actor.

Why Do We Care What Actors Say?

There is an obsession with famous actors largely because they have defied the odds and made a career out of acting. All aspiring actors dream about breaking through and all aspiring actors are searching for the secret recipe to success. What better way to learn how to do something than by listening to someone who has done it?

Take a look at these quotes from actors you may recognize and learn what makes an actor tick.

Quotes From Famous Actors About Acting

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

-Sanford Meisner

Meisner is most famous for his teachings on acting but he himself was also an accomplished actor. He used revolutionary techniques to get realistic performances from his students, and this quote is the spine of his acting theory. Although simple, his quote is powerful. Mr. Meisner is hinting at the fact that acting should never be forced. Instead, all actions should arise from some impetus, or, more basically, “acting is reacting” to something that happened to you.

“If you get a chance to act in a room that somebody else has paid rent for, then you’re given a free chance to practice your craft.”

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Auditioning is time of great stress for actors. Oftentimes this anxiety is created by expectations the actor puts on him/herself before the performance. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a master actor of stage and screen and this quote offers his perspective on auditioning. Rather than expecting to get a role and worrying about what the auditors think of you, use auditions as a practice session to improve as an actor.

“The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results.”

-James Dean

James Dean was certainly wise beyond his years and a highly-skilled actor for such a young man. Although he died when he was only 24, his monumental influence on modern actors is still present today. Similar to Hoffman, Dean presents a process-driven view of acting as opposed to a results-driven view. Focusing on and enjoying the process of acting should be the actor’s purpose, not focusing on achieving a certain “result.” In other words, control what you can control and let your work speak for itself.

“For me, our job as artists is to serve the story, serve the director, and serve the fellow actors. And if you do that, by osmosis you’re serving yourself because you’ll get the best out of yourself.”

-David Oyelowo

This is an elegant quote from a talented actor who is thankfully still living and working today. Oyelowo wowed audiences as Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2014’s Selma and the actor is just as selfless as the character he portrayed. The idea of selflessness should be central to an actor’s performance because by giving to others through performance the entirety of the production is strengthened. The quote is also a reminder that in the entertainment industry, being a good person with a wholesome reputation is a good thing. Overall, the message reads like a Bible verse: Give what thou shall receive onstage.

“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.”

Constantin Stanislavski

This is perhaps the favorite quote of acting students the world around and is meant to remind all of us that acting is bigger than any one person. Allowing ego to creep into the acting process is to doom it to failure. No matter where the actor is and what role they are performing, acting is the same and the actor must take the job seriously.

Now, go forth and discover quotes from your favorite actors that inspire you to continue on the journey. Read them, analyze them, and apply the lessons to your life so that you too may someday be asked your thoughts on the craft of acting.

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