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Arts & Entertainment

Introduction

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 04:00 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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Preview

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.

Legend. Her insights and experience are invaluable. Thank you.

I've learned so many dimensions of acting -- including the importance of costumes, props, lighting, etc. all to tell the story

Very interesting. Although this is an acting course, I feel it is helpful for writers, especially for thinking about characterization and dialogue.

I was searching for the right acting class for me. I now know why my insides said do Helen Mirren's class nothing beats authenticity.


Comments

A fellow student

Re-watching this I can suddenly appreciate the importance of the empty space...

Lisa O.

I totally relate to all the walking! I try to develop walks for each character, but I can never figure out what to do with my hands! As myself, I don't even think about them. But as soon as I try to think as someone else, nothing feels right!

Maryam L.

I had no idea that something as simple as walking could be difficult to an actor or actress. Just from the introduction, I learnt more than I thought I would. I cannot wait to go further.

A fellow student

I am even more excited about taking this class with you after hearing and seeing your introduction.

Shilpa & Richard

What a great introduction! Introducing the most basic of basics about being an actor.

Greg E.

Looking forward to working in this class with an artist with both theatrical and film credentials to the stature if Ms Mirren.

The 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.