Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hating On the Actors

Anna Gunn has one of the great all-time show business gigs as Skyler White in Breaking Bad. She is discovering, however, that there is a downside to creating a memorable character that engages people's deepest emotions. In her NYT Op-Ed she discusses the hatred some people have for her character and how it has even led some nut jobs to threaten her, the actress, personally. It's probably not much comfort to her to realize that this is in fact a bizarre tribute to her skill in making her character so vividly real.

I recall a couple of occasions when I encountered similar feelings. In one case, I was an audience member watching Mark Medoff's When You Comin' Back Red Rider. The actor playing the central character, the villainous, unbalanced, and explosive Teddy made such a strong impression that I disliked him personally until I was fortunate enough to take a class (a few classes, actually) from him. Later, when I was playing a part in One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest (directed by the same guy, actually), a friend of mine asked me, seemingly seriously, "That nurse Ratchet is so evil. Don't you just want to throw her off the stage."

I can't remember exactly what I said or thought, but it was probably something along the lines of "Well Miss X is actually a lovely young actress and we all adore her" and "Wouldn't that sort of spoil the rest of the play?"

Again, though, that kind of level confusion between reality and fiction shows the power of the actor and the writing.