Stephen Fry’s 2003 film, “Bright Young Things” is a good movie, but the absolute BEST thing about it for me is the character Miles, played by the amazing Michael Sheen. Miles is seriously one of my favorite characters I have ever come across, & the way Sheen plays Miles couldn’t be more perfect.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know how sad Miles’ final scene in the film is. Miles’ facade of confidence is shattered when (spoilers) he learns the police have a warrant out to arrest him for being gay & he is forced to leave the country before they can.
The emotions in that scene are so palpably genuine, vulnerable, & honest. And poor Miles just looks so perfectly sad, with his very red eyes, his mannerisms, the way his voice cracks & he looks away, unable to make eye contact. I’m filing this scene in my “amazing textbook examples of sadness & vulnerability” category, so I can study the scene & acting, & use what I learn from studying it to improve my own acting.
Which brings me to my second point. As an actor, I really wanted to know whether Sheen was “actually crying” in the scene, or whether anything like a tear stick or tear blower had been used to assist this effect.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with actors using things like tear sticks to help their characters cry, if they really need to. I understand that having to reshoot a scene, or working a long day & being emotionally exhausted, etc might make it hard for an actor to cry naturally.
But what I wanted to know was, as an actor, if I were trying to portray a scene in a similar way, would it be fair to hold myself up to the standard of actually crying that much, or whether the way a scene like that was done DID rely on a sort of incidental “special effect” of a tear stick. A lot of things in films are simulated or rely on even a small amount of “stage magic” to work properly, & I wanted to know whether a scene like this was one of those things, or whether it was real vulnerability worth striving for.
I went on Twitter & the following discussion happened:
Q: “The actor in me would love to know whether in this beautifully-acted scene, your eyes were that red & sad from crying naturally (perhaps from multiple takes), whether a tear stick/makeup/etc was involved, or a combination?”
A: “Just crying a lot.”
Knowing that about this scene makes me want to hold myself to a higher standard of acting, & makes me want to get a lot better about learning how to get into my characters better so I can, when the time calls for it, bring about genuine emotions in the mindset realm of the character. It also makes me love this scene even more than I already did & is a true testament to Sheen’s talent in bringing his characters & their emotions to life. I just think it’s so lovely how genuine this scene is.
A huge thank you to Michael Sheen for giving me permission to publish this as an interview on my blog!
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