Inspiring Stuff for Actors

"It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
- President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt

"At the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, Sanford Meisner said, 'When you go into the professional world, at a stock theatre somewhere, backstage, you will meet an older actor, someone who has been around awhile. He will tell you tales and anecdotes, about life in the theatre. He will speak to you about your performance and the performances of others, and he will generalize to you, based on his experience and his intuitions, about the laws of the stage. Ignore this man!'"
- David Mamet


Sandy Meisner

Sandy Meisner

"The truth of ourselves is the root of our acting."
- Sanford Meisner

"Acting is not talking, it's living off the other fellow!!!"
- Sanford Meisner

"You can't learn to act unless you're criticized. If you tie that criticism to your childhood insecurities you'll have a terrible time. Instead, you must take criticism objectively, pertaining it only to the work being done."
- Sanford Meisner

"Transfer the point of concentration to some object outside of yourself - another person, a puzzle, a broken plate that you are gluing."
- Sanford Meisner

"The only way to deal with yourself as an actor is to follow the emotional truth of what you have to do under the imaginary circumstances. And as you develop you become confident. You come to believe in what you're doing and trust it because it's out of you."
- Sanford Meisner

"If you have the emotion, it infects you and the audience. If you don't have it don't bother; just say your lines as truthfully as you are capable of doing. You can't fake emotion."
- Sanford Meisner

"Your acting will not be good until it is only yours. That's true of music, acting, anything creative. You work until finally nobody is acting like you."
- Sanford Meisner


"I want to be a great actor someday, and I've decided there's no use philosophizing; the only way is to work at my craft."
- Al Pacino

"It wasn't until I got older that I realized acting was something I could really do."
- Al Pacino

"I realized that this was going to take time and patience, which I didn't have much of. It took me only 15, 20 years to develop some patience, and it was a struggle. It was the same with my reading. I had the desire to learn, but I didn't have the patience. I wanted to tear that page up, because I didn't have the patience to even contemplate those words. I was in a hurry to run away from the suffering that was required to sit still."
- Harvey Keitel

"The thing is doing it, that's what it's all about. Not in the results of it. After all what is a risk? It's a risk not to take risks. Otherwise, you can go stale and repeat yourself. I don't feel like a person who takes risks. Yet there's something within me that must provoke controversy because I find it wherever I go. Anybody who cares about what he does takes risks."
- Al Pacino

"I've come to believe that everything worth achieving is beyond one's capacity - or seems so at first. The thing is to persist, not back off, fight your fight, pay your dues, and carry on. Effort is all; continue and you may get there despite everything."
- Elia Kazan

"I wanted to find my limitations so I decided to do Shylock. And if I fail? I've never been afraid of that. I have other fears - doing bad work knowingly is the worst fear."
- Dustin Hoffman

"Forget the career, do the work. If you feel what you are doing is on line and you're going someplace and you have a vision and you stay with it, eventually things will happen."
- Al Pacino

"The actor's physical type isn't and shouldn't be the main consideration. Does the actor look the part? It is the simplest question to deal with. The director deludes himself who yields to the temptation to believe that an affirmative answer settles the matter. An actor's looks will impress an audience initially, but after his first five minutes on stage it becomes aware of what he or she communicates (or fails to communicate) through acting!"
- Harold Clurman

"There is only one way of surviving all the early heartbreaks in this business. You must have a sense of humor. And I think it also helps if you are a dreamer. I had my dreams all right. And that is something no one can ever take away. They cost nothing, and they can be as real as you like to make them. You own your dreams and they are priceless. I've been a lavatory attendant, a theatre usher, a panhandler, all for real. Now, as an actor, I can be a journalist today and a brain surgeon tomorrow. That's the stuff my dreams are made of."
- Al Pacino

"If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse."
- Jack Nicholson

"Either I act or I die."
- Al Pacino