Arts & Entertainment

The Acting Process

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 17:26 min

Drawing from her own acting process, Jodie teaches you how to inspire a powerful and honest performance from an actor.

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

Topics include: The Actor-Director Collaboration · Acting Case Study: Nell · Using Structure to Support Freedom · Creating a Supportive Environment · Face Your Fears Head-On


I think, you know, the biggest problem that directors have with actors is that they just don't understand what acting is. And so they're intimidated by it. And they try all of these other ways to either prove that they are-- have power over you or that they know what they're doing, when the truth is they're just kind of intimidated by the process of what acting is. There's really three parts to acting. There's three layers. There's the part that the character is showing you, the part that they're communicating. There is the part that they're hiding. And there's the part that's completely unconscious, that they don't really realize is a part of their story. We're always working juggling those three different layers of meaning. In some characters, like Nell, you know, those layers are less severe. She's not hiding as much. She doesn't know that she's supposed to hide. The character like Clarice Starling in "Silence of the Lambs," you have somebody who's very aware that her words have effect. And she is presenting an image for Dr. Lecter to-- basically, to manipulate him, to get him to do what the FBI wants her to do. At the same time, she is begrudgingly revealing sides of herself. And at the same time, she's naive enough and young enough in some ways to not really 100% understand why she is on this mission, that there is a whole part of her story that's not understood even to her. I don't like preciousness. I don't like to be approached in a precious way. So I prefer somebody to be incredibly blunt and honest and tell me exactly what they mean. If they'd like me to be faster, I like to hear faster. If they'd like me to be slower, I like to hear slower. I tend to feel manipulated if somebody-- I can see somebody or notice that somebody is either trying to change the way they would speak in order to get a result from me. Actors tend to not like to be forced into result. They like to find the way themselves. I personally like directors to be prepared. I love them to be open to chance and open to spontaneity. But I want them to have a Plan A. There are too many things that can go wrong. And there's too many people's times that can be wasted. An actor's energy is important. The crew's energy is important. And so if somehow you're doing 25 takes for no reason, except that the director is unprepared, then there is a-- oh, you lose respect for the director. I don't like direction that's result-oriented, where the director tells you where he wants to get emotionally. You know, I'd like you to cry at the end, or I'd like you to laugh on this line. Or I'd like the audience to feel such and such. I want the audience to be sad or the audience to be happy. If you start making decisions-- if an actor starts making a decision about result, they'll immediately be blocked and never be able to get there. So that's an important one. Mostly, I like a director to include me in the process. I've been an actor for a really long time. I love-- ...

About the Instructor

Go behind the scenes with two-time Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, star of Silence of the Lambs and director of Little Man Tate. In her first online film class, she’ll teach you how to bring your vision to life. Jodie discusses her experience on both sides of the camera to guide you through every step of the filmmaking process, from storyboarding to casting and camera coverage. Everyone has a story. Learn how to tell yours.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jodie Foster

In her first-ever online class, Jodie Foster teaches you how to bring stories from page to screen with emotion and confidence.

Explore the Class
Sign Up