Academy Award nominee, Charlotte Rampling recently said, ‘‘I’ve always, since the beginning, had my antenna out, like, ‘You can’t get me.’ It makes you more interesting when people know they can’t get you.’’
She should know. She’s been in the business for over 45 years, made over 100 films and TV projects and started in the business when she was 17.
Why do we give it all away? Especially to people who don’t deserve it? I did that constantly in my 20s. If you think of sharing yourself as giving away a bag of jelly beans, I’d spill all the beans merely if a guy I liked said “Hi” to me. So much for mystery. How can anyone try to figure you out if you show them everything about you at first encounter?
We live in a world now where everyone is telegraphing everything about themselves all the time. It’s instagrammed, facebooked, snap-chatted and virtually sent around the world in seconds. People know what you eat, what you think, who you date, where you live, what you watch, what you buy and on it goes.
First date is drinks at a bar. Second date is sending nude selfies.
Where’s the mystery in that?
Being human is mysterious. The process of acting is mysterious. Getting to know someone is mysterious.
Just because culturally all the answers to things seem to be spoon-fed to us immediately doesn’t mean that we don’t like the challenge of figuring people out. It’s human nature, because as we do, we are subjectively projecting onto people the stories we want them to live out in our imaginations. They are our fantasies or ideas or prejudices or fears.
It’s subjective. But if you don’t create room for people to do their own personal imprinting on you, they lose interest.
When you go into an audition room, your job is to do your work. Experience how you choose to interpret a role and do it. That’s it. Casting directors may want to get to know you and that’s fine. But there’s a line between sharing and being desperate that they’ll like you. One is based on intrigue and curiosity and the other on obviousness and self-esteem.
Maybe we do that because we don’t trust that we’re enough. Or we need the job as some sort of confirmation to bolster our self-esteem. We doubt that we’re interesting. That we’re bad-ass. People will be intrigued. So instead we push, we show, we demonstrate, we reveal all instead of holding back.
When you watch someone simply being, doing nothing, you’re mesmerized about the person’s story. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they here? What are their dreams?
When you see a stranger in a café and your imagination runs wild with stories of who you think this person could be and all he or she is doing is actually sipping a latte . . . is there really anything else to do?
That’s the power we possess. An innate sense of presence that emanates from our being is inherently mysterious. It’s as mysterious as being alive. Let people project onto you as they will. (They’re going to do it anyway!) You just keep working on being. You.
As Ms. Rampling goes on to say, ‘‘Creative expression comes from places we don’t know. When I started out early in films, people said, ‘Oh my gosh, you can do this.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I can.’ I don’t know why, but I knew I could. I can’t explain what it is and how you get there, but it’s not anything to do with the intellect. I wanted to get to the being state of a character. Just watching someone being, living.’’