The Four Muscles of Acting | Harry Mastrogeorge

The Four Muscles of Acting | Harry Mastrogeorge


Every human being born barring organic deficiency of some sort, mentally or emotionally, is born with the natural faculties and powers to play this game on the highest level – if they’re willing to pay the price. We all did it when we were children playing pretend games. Acting is a state of mind. It’s not a concept. It’s not, you know, it’s not a theory. It’s not a method. It’s not a technique. It’s not a process. It’s not a procedure. It’s a state of mind. It’s about priorities. Your imaginative power is limitless. It’s infinite. I work four muscles: Your childlike innocence – and you haven’t lost your childlike innocence. It’s still there. It’s buried under adulthood, granted, But I work very hard at reviving people’s interest in their own childlike innocence, and the great actors, the brilliant actors today and in the past have that childlike innocence in their work. Your imagination, which is infinite and limitless…how dare, how dare some acting teachers, some directors say “well, you can’t imagine that because you’ve never been there.” What they can say to you if they’re teaching, hopefully, “you know, you haven’t used your imagination enough.” Third muscle is your vulnerability – unless there’s something organically wrong – you have a limitless vulnerability. And the fourth muscle is concentration. Concentration is the focusing of the conscious mind on something. The best actors focus on the story. Those are…you don’t need anything else to be an accomplished actor. All you need to do is exercise and practice these four muscles. And nature is always on your side. I say this to actors: natural law is on your side. Anything you practice and exercise becomes stronger and more proficient. I work with two terrible metaphors…cancers. The first cancer in the work I do in acting is concern about results, product, presentation… …good, bad, right, wrong, approval, etc. That’s a terrible thing to take into an audition with you. You just can’t be open. You can’t do as well. The other cancer is subjectivity and that’s even trickier because we all have personal opinions. Or they’re well-meaning. “Oh I don’t have enough time,” that’s subjective input. Already you’re cutting your legs out from under you. Or “I don’t have enough information.” That’s typical actor mentality that most actors, that’s the way they think instead of the better actors – the more accomplished – say “I absorb.” If you accept and absorb the information you’re getting you can understand it much deeper, much better, much more accurately. One of the things I love saying to new actors, “you’re asking yourself to behave naturally under unnatural conditions. So why wouldn’t you follow the way you behave naturally in your everyday life? – where most acting techniques take you away from that.” It was Stella Adler who asked Stanislavski, explain to us the method. Your method. And he said, quote …and it’s a quote, “I have no method. I just do everything I have to do to get what I need and want out of an actor.” End of quote. Makes perfect sense to me. He’s so misinterpreted. I mean, substitution, all that stuff, sense memory… those are exercises to help you get ready to do your work. He didn’t… he didn’t say bring them to rehearsal, bring them to the performance which is what a lot of bad method actors tend to do. It’s a game of pretending. Some of the greatest actors in history have said that. To be a successful actor you have to have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a baby. That’s key. That’s the secret. It’s that childlike innocence. Daniel Day-Lewis publicly says it all the time. People refuse to accept it. He says, I have a private room in my home where I go to daydream. It’s a game we play. He gave a very in-depth interview with the New York Times after he had finished filming “Abraham Lincoln” and he said, quote, “I am not unhinged. I know I am not Abraham Lincoln, but for some reason or other I’m willing to accept the illusion.” It’s an adult way of saying “play pretend.”

23 Replies to “The Four Muscles of Acting | Harry Mastrogeorge”

  1. way better edit. Would nix the sound effects. they don't really add any value on top of his voice. They also never need to be longer than 1 second, ever./ ( the ringing one. way too long. it is distracting.)

    Still you went from like 0 in your last edit, to 10, in comparison. Miles apart.

    Good work

  2. I was lucky enough to take Harry’s classes 20 years ago when he was at The Brewery in downtown Los Angeles. He looks exactly the same and hasn’t aged one bit. Though I’m no longer acting, I still remember many wonderful things he said to me along with his affinity for ‘dumb blonde’ jokes. My favorite of his: “How do you get a one-armed blonde out of a tree?”… “Just wave.” 👋🏼

  3. These are wonderful! I love the graphics and quality. I'm sharing with all my actor friends! Thank you, Harry! Your words are gold!

  4. Dude..i study in Lee strasberg and this channel is fucking amazing..you are doing great job..you are really contributing something to this world of art…don't stop doing it..you have great potential and the right talent and perspective..please please make new material, post stuff more frequently.

    PS: this is my first ever comment on youtube ever. Nothing i ever saw made me comment.

  5. I studied with Harry for about 2 years. It took me a year before I truly grasped what he meant by "doing the work." Thinking about your life as a character and what made them want to say the words they spoke. I stopped acting because at that point I was not willing to "pay the price." But I found my way back to it, or did it find it's way back to me? (lol). This time around I am open vulnerable and was absolutely shocked to find as I went through my first few gigs, that ingrained in my consciousness while I went through a script was Harry's voice coaching from the dim lights of that small theater…Those years in class paid off. Thanks, Harry!

  6. Please don't talk in terms of riddles. I wish you had explain each of these terms. Specially "Child like innocence" or "Heart of a baby". What does that mean? How do you apply it to acting?

  7. Acting is simply photographing well atleast in film acting. I think this only applies to theater acting

  8. Wow!! Childlike innocence, imagination, vulnerability and concentration. I would also add empathy to it.

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