Video: Video Finds: Actors |
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Video Finds: Actors

The category marked “actors” nowadays includes what used to be called “actresses”, and I use the updated blanket term here as a concession to the new gender-sensitive speech in which specificity is sacrificed so that justice might be served. You will judge correctly that I come late to the game. When I was young, Laurence Olivier was an actor, Edith Evans was an actress, and we all knew where we were instantly, even if it was somewhere short of linguistic equality. An emphasis on vocabulary is not without its relevance to this section, because most of my illustrations will be concerned with how the actors speak. I am just as interested as anybody else in how Marlon Brando could convey a whole sub-text without saying anything intelligible at all, but finally an actor has to say something, and how he, or she, does so is invariably the defining characteristic. The web abounds in examples of actors saying, right there where we can see them, all they need to say to suit the scene, but sometimes the context needs to be provided. Providing it, I get the chance to register my admiration. My own taste for expressive English was formed by watching the post-war Shakespearean actors on screen. One of them was Brando, who ditched the mumble when he played Mark Antony, having correctly identified Shakespeare as the true hero.

— London, July 2008