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The Truth Behind One Of The Biggest Debates In Acting

By August 31, 2022September 23rd, 2022Blog

In the world of acting, as there is in all forms of expression, there is an entire breadth of different schools of thought, ideas and correct ways to act, which is why online acting classes will often teach a broad curriculum of techniques to find the one that’s right for each person.

With so many different methods and types of actor who often end up on-screen or on-stage together, there are sometimes spirited debates about the philosophy of acting.

Perhaps one of the most infamous examples of this conflict of ideologies happened on the set of Marathon Man, as two Academy Award-winning actors of different generations had a rather infamous conflict about what it means to be an actor.

On one side you had the legendary English actor Laurence Olivier, famed for his portrayal of Shakesperean kings and princes and, whilst not completely bound to tradition, believed heavily in a theatrical approach.

He would use costumes, make-up, and apply a huge number of tiny details to create characters and revelled in the idea of the art of performance. He was the platonic idea of a performer.

On the other side, you had Dustin Hoffman, a famous proponent of method acting, a series of techniques used to help an actor embody a performer and provide an expressive, authentic performance.

This can sometimes lead to actors going to extreme lengths to ensure they capture a realistic performance and this is what allegedly happened during the filming of Marathon Man.

According to the popular story, Dustin Hoffman was preparing for a scene where his character had stayed awake for three days to get to the centre of how his character would feel and act in that circumstance.

When Laurence Olivier found out, he wryly asked why Mr Hoffman didn’t “just try acting” instead, highlighting the conflict at the heart of the Stanislavski method, or at least how it had metamorphosed in the New Hollywood of the 1970s.

However, according to Mr Hoffman, this famous exchange was actually mostly a joke from Mr Olivier; Dustin had been up all night at the nightclub for personal reasons rather than part of the method.

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