Arts & Entertainment

Human Behavior

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 13:06 min

Learn the essential human behaviors and aspects of the human experience you’ll need in your toolbox throughout your acting career.

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

Topics include: Surprises • Physical Pain • Nudity • Sex • Sleep • Being Drunk • Dying


Being surprised in close-up or this kind of shot over and over again-- oh! Cut. Action. Oh! Cut. Action. Oh! You start feeling like an absolute tit, actually. But you know, there you go. You just have to do your best. And incidentally, if you're finding yourself running out of steam, I don't think there's anything wrong with getting the help of someone to go ,, you know, do something that will get a reaction from you. And incidentally, also sometimes when you're off camera and you're realizing, like the actor has to act surprised at your entrance, but he's on camera, you're off camera, it's great to help the actor on camera out by doing something that literally surprises them. And then you get a real reaction on camera, which you off camera have made happen. But that's an act of generosity that you can give another actor. And I think you should. I think it's part of your job, really, to do that as much as you can. I did a fight scene in The Debt. We called it the geriatric fight scene. But it was a fight scene that we had to-- and we worked with a stunt man to do this scene, a wonderful stunt man. He did the naked fight in-- was it Eastern Promises, the film with Viggo Mortensen-- in a wonderful, wonderful naked fight sequence. And fight sequences, which men in general have to do more than women, but women do occasionally. And you work with a stunt person. Listen to the stunt person. Just do what they tell you to do, because they know what they're talking about. Well actually, I say that, but actually, sometimes stunt people, because they are stunt people, you know, they know how to sell a punch. You know, boom. But because they're not actors, sometimes they oversell it. And you have to pull it back, pull-- you know, it's not uh, you know, it's like uh. Do you know what I mean? A stunt person sometimes oversells, and it becomes too physicalized. And you have to bring it back to reality a little bit. But this stunt guy was brilliant. And he taught me-- because so often you see in fight sequences, you know, people get punched, and then they come back and they're, like, perfectly normal. And that always annoys me when I see that. And he said, you know, this hurts. I think it was-- it was a stab in the shoulder. And he said, everything in your body goes into paralysis from the pain. And so often, you see people stabbed and stabbed, and they go, oh, oh, I'm stabbed, but they sort of carry on. He said, everything stops. So I've really played that-- just your whole body has gone into paralysis from the pain of this thing in your shoulder. So I think it's quite important to be as realistic as you can. I mean, certain movies there's not the time or the inclination to be realistic about this kind of stuff. You know, in action type movies. But if there is the space ...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Helen Mirren

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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