Orson Welles in Chimes At Midnight, inspiring.



I ran into an old actor friend of mine recently, who, when I asked him how it was going, replied; “I’m not doing it anymore”, and that he had turned the temporary contract of his day job into a permanent one. Following this admission, he blew out on his lips, scrunched-up his face, and shrugged as if to say; “I’ve made my decision, it’s gone now”. Whenever I hear someone has quit, I still get slightly shocked, although by now I shouldn’t. I suppose it’s because I know he will now move out of my social orbit and into something more normal, this is especially true since his new job has got nothing whatsoever to do with art. I also know that the questions of his life will change radically, and the obsession with which those of us who remain chase our goals, will probably begin to seem incomprehensible to him. Crucially, by leaving the stage as it were, my friend has severed the bond which exists between actors, and which exists despite the ultra-competitive nature of the life. What is this bond? It is the bond of shared experience, those experiences which are unique to acting but common to all actors, and while those experiences will at least reside in memory, we all know that the ex-actor is no longer part of the hunt.


All the actors I’ve known who had purely cynical motives, have failed. All of them. It’s easy to enter the arena, not so easy to stay there. The industrial model of art is false. It cannot be approached as a salaried 9 to 5 job, because it is not that – the actor is not allowed to settle into a cosy routine, for the actor is constantly being asked new questions. In order to find the resilience to constantly face upto those new questions, the actor must pursue goals which are higher than simply making money; he must have longe range aesthetic, technical and philisophical goals, goals which energize him, lift him, help him get back up off the canvas one more time. The mundane goal of paying bills will not nourish him through lean times, through confusing and frightening times, and will not help him overcome the grinding resistence to his work (which all actors face) – in short, he may decide that the tumult of an actor’s life is not worth the hassle, that there are easier ways of paying his rent, and because he doesn’t have those higher goals, he is unable to resist the soothing lure of security, and so turns his back on his art.


The goals that we set ourselves need to invigorate us to the extent that we can overcome the obstacles which prevent us from achieving them.


One thought on “The Great Acting Blog: “Why Actors Quit”

  1. I love acting. I have been living the life of a struggling actor trying to "break in the business" or at least work 50 hours a month on the average. I have a regular 40 hour per week job which I am thankful for. I’m 43 and I decided when I was 38 that I would work at it and give it everything I have until I was 55 years old. At that time, I will decide if I am satisfied with my success or not. I live in Metro Atlanta which has a lot of work here but most of the work or auditions I come across don’t seem to be good work or to amount to anything people will remember or will stick to their minds. I know I will go to Hollywood at some point and spend a period of time out there auditioning for big studios hoping to get a break. I’m also thankful to be signed with a talent agent. I’m coming up on 1 year with our contract. I don’t hate my job, I just know this is not where I need to be – what makes me happy. When I’m on stage or on the set of a film, I feel like I’m in my living room at home. That is how I know acting is where I belong.

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