Official Artist
Gregory C. Rivers
Actor , Singer
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The mark of a great actor?

I was watching a television program and they mentioned micro-expressions. Since watching that program, I've come to realise that micro-expressions could very well be one of the significant distinguishing qualities of a great actor, especially a screen actor where everything is up close and personal. Micro-expressions are extremely small expressions, perhaps lasting one fifth of a second or even less. Consciously, we don't notice them. Unconsciously, we do and we're very much affected by them.

Most actors can reproduce expressions, some better than others, but even the best expressions may not trigger an emotional response in the viewing audience. I remember one of our teachers at Lee Strasberg commenting how tears from actors in general didn't do anything for him. Without the underlying pain, crying was simply an indicator without compelling emotion.

Actors who can reproduce the emotions of their character's situation will unconsciously reproduce the micro-expressions that come with those emotions. Those micro-expressions will then be unconsciously broadcast to the audience, making their acting captivating to watch and enabling the audience to empathise with and feel for the character.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of emotional expression coming out of Hollywood's blockbusters today. Emotion seems to have taken a back seat to action (and the associated money-making franchises), and the English seem to be producing more emotionally sensitive movies and television programs than Hollywood. If Hollywood is not careful, a big chunk of the movie industry might just find a new home in England.

Anyway, today's point is that micro-expressions could very well be the mark of a great actor.

over 11 years ago 0 likes  6 comments  0 shares
Photo 16256
I learned a new term for the thing I've always looked for in actors. I agree that it's the face's nuances that are more effective than the "macro" expressions.
over 11 years ago
Mariejost 26 dsc00460
Interesting idea. I'm not sure if this explains why I like certain actors who seem to be very "opaque". While you're watching them in a movie, you're not sure how they are communicating so much emotion with no visible emoting. The emotion seems buried very deep inside, so deep that sometimes I can't really name what the emotion is. But, by the end of the film, the accumulation of this buried emotion lends a tremendous, but muted power, to the film. (I'm talking actors in films by directors like Hou Hsiao-Hsien or somebody like Ozu.) Maybe it is the split-second expressions, so fleeting that we are not conscious of them, but so telling, nonetheless.
over 11 years ago
Rottendoubt a4 patrick
very interesting. would love to see some examples of good mico-expressions..
over 11 years ago
Photo 1967
I think Kenneth Ma from TVB is great with expressions. Whether that's micro-expressions or not, however, I wouldn't know. But I always notice subtle changes in his expressions which convey the emotion really well.
over 11 years ago
Photo 153940
Hi Greg, how does the actor be sure that their emotion is communicated and trigger the intended emotional response to the audience? One time I went to an audition and the casting director instructed me to perform some what subtle but worrying feeling, I felt it during my performance but it did not convey to the casting director. Any advise?
over 11 years ago
Photo 31454
i totally concur my friend i hope u can take a look at this scene i did and tell me honesly what you think :D http://www.alivenotdead.com/d.y._sao/OBAMA+IN+DA+HOUSE-profile-474261.html#xspace-itemform thanks Gregory dY
over 11 years ago


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July 18, 2008