Be So Good They Can’t Ignore YOU!

Steve Martin

(Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

I read an article over the weekend that I thought was interesting, and I wanted to share it with you. It was in reference to some things Steve Martin had to say about working and becoming successful in the entertainment industry.

Steve Martin wrote an autobiography and I’m going to tell you a little bit about what the writer of this particular article said.

“Steve Martin is one of the most famous comedians of the twentieth century and many modern devices that young people think are so novel, actually, have their roots in Martin’s work. Martin is a highly accomplished stand-up comedian, writer, actor and musician. So, in his memoirs, Born Standing Up, Martin wanted to share his insights on how he achieved his success, not just what he had achieved.”

He goes on to say, “I wanted to share the essence of what I’m going to call, The Steve Martin Method for dominating your field.” So, this is what Steve Martin said, and it’s really brilliant. It’s very simple, but very brilliant: ‘Be so good, they can’t ignore you.’”

What he is saying is forget the secret backdoors, the gimmicks and tricks, the frustration of feeling that you’re missing some mystical element, and focus on just one thing, become really damn good. Become extraordinary.

So, I thought, here you are, all dedicated actors in this acting class working hard at honing your craft. And then somebody comes up to you and says, “Oh, guess what? I just tried this new thing and it’s a really cool trick and it’s so fabulous!” And it’s some cheap, old shortcut that doesn’t really do it, but everybody is sort of electrified by it. It’s the new thing. What Steve Martin is saying is to forget about tricks. That’s not it. You’ve got to work hard at it and be so good that they can’t ignore you. And, be extraordinary.

Steve Martin

(Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

Another great point he made was about, “The frustration of feeling like you’re missing some mystical element.” It’s easy to fall into that trap of thinking you’re missing something, but it’s time wasted because it’s not about that. It’s about investing in yourself by working hard and not giving up.

Steve Martin started out as “the wild and crazy guy” and he was outrageous. He was so good, you couldn’t ignore him. He was so fresh, and so funny, and so unique. Who could ignore that? You laughed so hard you couldn’t stand it. He really was amazing. His words of wisdom have served him well.

Speaking of hard work, we’re going to continue to focus on this area we’ve been addressing recently. It’s what you want the other character to understand from your point of view. The more details you create for having this viewpoint, the more you have something of substance to sink your teeth into that will connect you to what’s going on in this particular part of the script.

When you create the details that make up the viewpoint you have as this character, you won’t run out of emotion because you’re strongly rooted in the specifics and they just don’t dry up. You have to fully own all of what the script gives you, and then where it leaves off you must supply the rest. And, in doing so, find the heart and the soul of the character. When you discover where this viewpoint comes from and why, you’ll be in a position to assume the life of that person.

Your point of view is strong, and you don’t want to give up until the other person understands it. Now when you play the scene, you really have something you’re fighting for and you may adjust emotionally depending on what you get from the other character. As you see how they’re reacting to what you’re saying in the moment, you may become frustrated, angry, defeated, or find yourself laughing at the ludicrousness of the situation. But it will happen organically as you go through the scene, genuinely reacting to what they’re saying. This can only happen when you own the viewpoint and you desperately want them to understand it.

So, again, work hard, create the details, become extraordinary and they won’t be able to ignore you.

By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director

Lynette McNeill - Acting Coach

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