If actors themselves have such a low opinion of what they do, perhaps it's not surprising that many argue that acting is a craft, not an art. Watch film actors Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Nicolas Cage, Stanley Tucci, Peter Sarsgaard, and Christoph Waltz debate the subject above in the first of a series of YouTube videos.
With an increasing divide between 'cast' and 'creatives' in productions, how much input can actors have nowadays?
"Acting," said Sir Ralph Richardson, "is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing." Katharin Hepburn was equally dismissive, declaring it "the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four."
But is acting always merely interpretive? The increasing trend – one borrowed from the US – in which the "cast" and "creatives" are listed separately in theatre programmes, suggests a rise in the idea that actors play no role in the creative process. They are simply puppets.
Shakespeare, of course, was both an actor and a writer. As Nicholas Hytner – echoing Grotowski – suggested in a brilliant piece in the Guardian, his plays are incomplete and are simply instructions for performance. Hytner suggests that Shakespeare always writes from "the premise that the dots can't be joined on the page, and writes with the confidence of an actor who knows that, if they are any good, his colleagues will do the rest of his job for him." When they do, acting is more than a craft – it's real artistry. (Source: The Guardian Link to full article.)