The actor and director should have a partnership of sorts in my opinion. The director has done a lot of work in preproduction and has envisioned what they want the film to look like. This may cause some tension if the actor is not performing to the liking of the director and what they had pictured. On the same hand the actor may have insights and experiences maybe the director hadn’t thought of. This is why, to me, they should have a partnership, collaborating and adding more dimension to a character or scene.
The actor needs to invest in a character to make them believable on screen. The actor can’t just come in recite the lines and leave, it will not make for a very good film. The director is there to coach the actor into getting what they have envisioned for the film. They have spent a lot of time with the material and know it through and through. A good actor would have also spent time with the material and understand the words as well as the subtext and emotion within a scene.
Some actors have a natural ability to add subtext to a scene without needing any additional help. Everyone reads and interprets words differently so it is important to work with each other toward the same goal. The actor may ask what the director wants exactly or the director may leave it to the actor to bring what they feel is right for the character in the moment. It is all a matter of personal preference and how you work with the other person. In the case of having multiple actors the director needs to make sure that they are all on the same page with each other.
It is also important for both partners to understand the others job. It is much easier to direct if you have an understand of acting and vice versa. Having that understanding allows for a better collaboration. It is the actors job to come and perform but in an intense emotional scene if there are distractions the director may take them away making a closed set allowing the actor to be able to get into that headspace. As a director you need to understand and adapt to these things and create a space that the actor is able to do their job in achieving the performance you desire.
Lastly, it is important to take in to account that people respond in different ways to coaching or directing. As a former college athlete having a coach yell or get in my face was counterproductive. I respond to constructive criticism and instruction. I used to feel and understand when I was making mistakes, the coach would get frustrated, but so was I. Yelling in this case would only make it worse hindering my performance. Alternatively though I know some athletes who respond better to yelling and it motivates them. It is similar on a film set the director and actors need to understand the each other as well as the material and work together toward the end result. The director should inspire the actor and vice versa not bringing the other down making it a partnership.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.