In auditioning fighters and wrestlers who are transitioning into actors, I’ve noticed a distinctly different approach to acting. There’s an aspect to it that I think all actors could use to their benefit.
Fighters know that their bodies are tools. Their every muscle has a function that supports their purpose – to win. And on top of that – their every emotion is trained and used as a tool, to fuel their strength and focus.
I’ve seen actors that tower over me, with muscles rippling upon muscles, who are so nervous for their audition that their voices quiver. Do they mask it, and try to squash it down, hoping that it doesn’t affect their performance? No. More often than not – it’s the first thing out of their mouth. “I’m so nervous,” they say. At the same time, I can see they are addressing the issue in their mind, the same way they do before a fight – it’s an acknowledgement of humanity, it’s shining a light on whatever weaknesses are present, in order to expose the problem and find a solution before stepping into the room.
In the same manner – when giving a wrestler direction in a scene, they hear it differently. They hear it, and I can see they’re thinking ahead, about the goal of the scene, and how they can expand on that note to serve the bigger picture. They want to use every tool at their disposal, to achieve the greatest scene.
What’s refreshing, is the lack of ego, regarding one’s own vulnerabilities. And regarding one’s power.
I may be talking out of my ass, but I’d bet when stepping into a ring, a fighter must be aware of themselves in a way that none of the rest of us are. They need to be aware of every strength and weakness, both physically and emotionally, in a way that leaves no surprises against an opponent. There’s no time or energy for ego – no room to squash a hurt down deep inside, no room to have a skill that you’re only proud of secretly. Everything must be out in the open, ready to use or ready to protect.
I’m not saying that everything should be on the surface. Our complexity as humans is what makes us interesting characters, and depth is as important as any other tool, for an actor.
But the focus on a goal that’s bigger than just yourself, combined with the understanding that you have an arsenal at your disposal – using your body, your mind and your heart to serve something greater than just you, without ego, will allow you to achieve greater work than just you.