Chapter 1 of 28 from Helen Mirren

Introduction

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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

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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Lessons

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

Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Tony winner Helen Mirren is one of the greatest actresses of our time. In her first online class, she discusses the dualism that is core to her method: the necessity for mastering technique (craft) and then letting go so that your imagination can take over (art). Learn how to break down a script, research characters, and master techniques so you can transcend them to find freedom in every role.

Helen brings you behind the scenes to show you the secrets of her acting technique.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Helen will also critique select student work.

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Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren Teaches Acting