Film & TV

Introduction

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 3:37 min

To start her MasterClass, Helen demonstrates a simple act that’s one of the hardest things for an actor to do: walking naturally. She then introduces you to the world of acting and the empty space that will be your classroom.

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Helen Mirren
Teaches Acting
In 28 lessons, the Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony, and Emmy winner teaches her process for acting on the stage and screen.
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So I just did what I consider to be one of the most difficult things to do in my profession of acting, which is to walk as yourself. Just to be yourself walking, is peculiarly difficult. I don't know how well I did it just now. Certainly off stage, before I walked on, first of all, I had my hands in my pocket. And then I thought, no that's fake. You're just trying to be casual. Take your hands out of your pocket. So I did. And then I thought, how do I do this? How do I be as real and as natural as possible? All of this stuff goes through your mind really fast. And then I thought, the only way to do it is simply, in my mind, to have the intention-- and this sounds so silly-- to walk to the chair. That's your whole intention. You just think, I got to get to that chair, and I've got to sit down. And that was all I did. But you know what? That was acting. Because here we have an empty space. I very much wanted to start my Masterclass in an empty space. As you will see later on, this space will become filled with elements, with costumes, with props, with all sorts of different things. All the tools of the acting trade. But basically, at its heart, our world of acting is an empty space. It's an empty space that we fill with our imagination, with our technique, with our philosophy, with our poetry, with our passion, with our fears, with our insecurity. It's funny about walking, you know. I was watching a young actor the other day on television. And this thing of walking naturally is peculiarly difficult. And I'm going to show you what he did to try and look natural. And I'm going to do it for you. What he did was sort of this. He had his hands in his pocket, and everything about him was trying to look natural. So when he walked, he kind of kicked his feet like this. And when he turned he kind of turned like this. And then if he did a gesture, it was kind of, oh, I'm so relaxed. I'm so natural. It communicated just unnaturalness. In our world of acting, we are constantly seeking for nature. Nature and art, and nature in art. So I wanted to start this in this open, empty space. An empty space into which we put our fears, our terrors, our imagination-- above all our imagination-- our poetry, our philosophy, our storytelling. Because that's what we are. We're storytellers. I'm Helen Mirren. And this is my Masterclass.


Find freedom in your roles

In her first-ever online acting class, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren shares the techniques she has learned through the course of her international career that has spanned stage, screen, and television. Her powerful and versatile performances have earned her numerous awards, including the Academy Award in 2007 for her performance in The Queen, a Tony Award in 2015 for her performance in The Audience, and four Emmy Awards.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Helen is great. Listening to her has been invaluable. Thank you Helen. M

She is a unique, generous artist sharing a part of her life, ideas and deep thoughts about the acting profession. This MC has been a great experience.

Simply marvelous. It teaches you a lot about personal presence and utilizing your body language on and off camera. A course for everyone.

I really enjoyed hearing all of the tips for each stage of acting. This master class really made me aware of how every element of filming is important to creating a great piece of art. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


Comments

Brynn D.

Mrs. Mirren, Thank you for teaching acting. I have done a summer acting camps so I am used to acting. Thank you for your time and effort you have put in to this class.

Márcia A.

This was spot on! It's the simplest things that are the most difficult ones, and this just goes to show how hard acting is and what is the difference between a good actor and a bad one. Because of the nature of this job, people often think that acting bases itself off reading a script. You read words and that's it, but it's not. Because if you read words and are not fully committed to the character you're playing, you're not acting natural, and that is the hard part about acting, and being able to do that, that's what's a part of being a good actor.

Ana F.

Me encanta cómo enseña a actuar de forma natural. Lo simple parece ser lo mejor.

Ashley W.

My favorite part of this lesson was when she said that all we have is an empty space that we fill with our imagination. It gets down to the root of what drew me to acting: the elements of imagination and play.

Micah L.

So very important. I often am in rehearsal and think to myself, "Oh crud. Now I'm thinking about how to walk!" This is spot on. To think about how you as a person walk and how your character walk and justifying both in your head are taking away from the scene at hand! Best to work on your walk outside of the rehearsal space so as not to be distracted by it when in a working space.

Lydia P.

Oh man, SO RELATABLE! As soon as the camera is on, I suddenly have no idea what to do with my hands. Pure brain sabotage! Lovely intro and makes me really keen to watch more.

Atanas V.

I'm personally taking acting lesson for two months now and at first I thought that it is important to look the part. For example to look sad when you play a sad character or when you are in a sad situation. But I guess the real acting is just to not think about those things and put yourself as if you are living in this character and just do the things as you would normally do them... Great intro!

A fellow student

This is so interesting. I have terrible posture and scoliosis- always anxious about that and how I look when I walk. Hadn’t thought of it in this light before

A fellow student

I love this line, so meaningful: "In our world of acting, we are constantly seeking for nature; nature and art and nature in art."

Rebecca

I enjoyed this intro as well. I have noticed that gesturing can be difficult. We do it every day and you don’t want to cross the line and do acting with your hands or that type of thing, but sometimes the simplest gesture can be the hardest thing to portray honestly.