David Bruce: Acting Anecdotes

By David Bruce (Acting)

© 2015, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

Jennifer Love Hewitt acquired her middle name because when her mother, Pat, was studying speech pathology in college, her best friend was a beautiful woman named Love. She acquired her first name because when she was born, her older brother, Todd, thought that she might want a more normal name because “Love” was a weird name. His parents allowed Todd to choose his sister’s first name, and because he liked a girl named Jennifer in the neighborhood, he named her “Jennifer.” Of course, Love (as she is called) became a famous actress, an occupation that led to some interesting experiences. For example, in 1994 she had her first on-screen kiss in the TV movie The Bryds of Paradise, which was filmed in Hawaii. To get the kiss right, she and her co-star had to work at it — they practiced kissing in some bushes until they could kiss well enough for the filming of the scene. Love says, “I had never kissed anyone before in my whole life, and I was scared half to death.” Later, when she was a cast member of the TV series Party of Five, her character frequently kissed the character played by Scott Wolf, who played a teenager but was in real life 10 years older than the character he played. Love said at the time, “Wow, I’m the luckiest teenager alive — kissing an older man everyday and getting paid for it!”

In 1972, film director Michael Winner made the film Death Wish, starring Charles Bronson. In it, the “hero” is a man whose family is attacked, and who then becomes a vigilante. Mr. Winner and Mr. Bronson had made a movie titled The Stone Killer together, and Mr. Bronson asked Mr. Winner, “What should we do next?” Mr. Winner said, “Charlie, I’ve had a script for some time called Death Wish. … It’s about a man whose wife and daughter are mugged, and he goes out and kills muggers.” Mr. Bronson said, “I’d like to do that.” Mr. Winner asked, “The film?” Mr. Bronson showed that he was the perfect person to star in the movie by saying, “No, I’d like to kill muggers.” By the way, when Mr. Winner directed Orson Welles in the movie I’ll Never Forget What’s ’isname, Mr. Welles complained, “Michael, you’re shooting me from below. That will make me look fat.” Mr. Winner comments, “Orson would have looked fat if you’d shot him from a helicopter.”

Script supervisor May Wale Brown was very impressed by the professionalism shown by Henry Fonda in the making of Gideon’s Trumpet, which was a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. In the movie, Mr. Fonda used a pair of wire-rimmed glasses in his portrayal of the character he was playing. His own real glasses had heavy rims because they contained a hearing aid that he needed due to his old age. In a scene with Fay Wray, the camera focused on Ms. Wray, and Mr. Fonda was not, of course, in her close-ups. However, Mr. Fonda said his lines well, and he continued to wear the wire-rimmed glasses. When Ms. Brown told him that he could wear his own glasses (she did not want to mention the hearing aid), Mr. Fonda replied, “I want Fay to see the Gideon character when she looks at me. It’ll make it easier for her.”

Some actors such as Chris Cooper act with reserve, using mainly their eyes to show emotion. Very often this emotion appears only on the big movie screens, not on the video monitors that many directors use. For example, during the making of Seabiscuit, Gary Ross, the director, would look at the video monitor, and then say to Mr. Cooper, “Y’know, I want to see a little more.” Mr. Cooper would reply, “Please just go see the dailies on a big screen.” Mr. Ross did, he saw the emotion he wanted, and he apologized to Mr. Cooper and then added that the next time he said “y’know, I want to see a little more,” Mr. Cooper should “just tell me to shut the f**k up.”

Harrison Ford, of course, is one of the most successful movie actors ever. Early in his career, he played a bellhop in a movie, and a VIP at Columbia said to him, “I’ve got to tell you, give it up — you’re never going to make it.” The VIP then told him that he had seen Tony Curtis deliver a bag of groceries in an early movie, and when he saw Tony Curtis, he knew that that was a movie star. Mr. Ford replied, “I thought that you were supposed to think that that was a grocery delivery boy.”

Comedian Bert Lahr worried about other actors trying to steal a scene from him, so when he was a star other performers were under orders not to move when he was speaking. Once, he complained to a theatrical producer that a certain actor had been moving, but the producer denied that. Mr. Lahr said, “You’re wrong. Tonight he was moving his facial muscles.”

Many actors, including Ryan Reynolds, who starred in the movie Definitely, Maybe, had a hard, penniless time breaking into show business. For a while, Mr. Reynolds and a friend lived in a cheap motel in Los Angeles, and he drove around the city in a Jeep that had been stripped by thieves and therefore lacked a few luxuries — including doors.

Paul, Joe, Mark and Stephen McGann are all brothers, and they are all actors. Constantly, each of them is mistaken for one of his brothers. Paul points out an advantage of these cases of mistaken identity: “I can always say, ‘Thank you, so glad you liked it.’ Or if they didn’t like it, I can say, ‘Oh, that was Stephen, actually.’”

Actress Jessica Lange has won two Oscars, and her advice to anyone who is nominated for an Oscar is to have a few words that you can say “just in case” you win. She also says that the best speech ever given by a winner was very short. Tommy Lee Jones said, “Thanks for all the work.” In Hollywood, getting work is very important.

“Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” — George Burns.

Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:


Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)


Free PDF book: William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce


Free PDF book: Honey Badger Goes to Hell — and Heaven by David Bruce


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