Clooney on Acting

The current GQ has a great interview with George Clooney.

The whole piece is wonderful, but I particularly love how he nails the importance of specificity in acting:

He starts describing the stages of acting, all of which he went through. “The first thing you see is everybody overacts,” he says. “You’re trying to cry. Well, people don’t try to cry. Actors try to cry. People try not to cry. Right? You’re playing the event, which is always a mistake. Then you get a few years under you, and then you learn some skills, and then the next stage is you underplay everything. Nothing is specific. Everything is quiet and important and you’re looking everybody in the eye when you talk to them.”

He recalls a day on ER, a scene in which it was snowing and a patient comes into the emergency room and they’re covered in snow. “And each of the doctors who would come in would see the snow on ’em and go, ‘Is it snowing?’ And each of them would play it as if it was, you know, just the question. Like, with no opinion to it. ‘Is it snowing?’ ‘Is it snowing?’ And everyone would come in: ‘Is it snowing?’ ‘Is it snowing?’ And I watched this one actor come in, and he looked at the patient, just looked down, and goes, [in the most irritated, disappointed voice possible] ‘Is it snowing?’ And the difference in tone, the anger, that clearly he had a plan for the day and snow fucked it up, made it specific. And once it’s specific, then that’s sort of the third stage of acting to me.”