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In the Press

Excerpts from Howard's book 'Fine on Acting' on Backstage.com

The Root of Good Acting
Excerpt 1Excerpt 2 | Excerpt 3 | Excerpt 4


The following is an excerpt from 'Fine on Acting: A Vision of the Craft,' by Howard Fine.


Personalization is the foundation upon which the house built. Step number one of my eight steps is phrased, "Who am I?"—think of that "I" as standing for identification. "How do I identify myself in the role?" That is what actors bring. Let's look at who we are and our range of behaviors. Often, there are behaviors that we don't like to see inside of ourselves. First of all, we have to understand ourselves, in order to personalize effectively. We have to know that every character we're going to play exists inside of us. Actors have got to be able to play everything from Mother Theresa to a serial killer. Obviously, it's easier to see ourselves as Mother Theresa. It's easier to look at the most positive qualities that human beings have and say, "That's me. I see myself." It is a lot harder to look at a child molester and find identification, and yet that is what you must do. You must find identification. I don't care if you are playing a character that disgusts you, you must find identification. What prepares us to do this? Rigorous self-observation. In most of our day- to-day exchanges, we tend to notice what the other person does. We are rarely as observant about ourselves. Working effectively as an actor means knowing who you are.



Howard Fine on the cast of 'Sophie's Choice'

Backstage | July 20, 2011

Let us examine the work of the actors in my favorite film, "Sophie's Choice," in terms of what makes the performances great and the skills that they needed to bring to the table from the get-go. What did Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Peter MacNicol need to have accomplished prior to the start of filming? Acting is a comprehensive art form, and it requires that actors be good at so many things.





Singing for Actors
Backstage | May 13, 2011

When it comes to the voice, David Coury undeniably has one. Though he's being interviewed over the phone, this New York–based interviewer has the feeling that if he were to lean out his window, he could hear Coury speaking all the way from Los Angeles, where he's voice director for the Howard Fine Acting Studio.





Howard Fine and Carla Gugino
Backstage | September 29, 2010

Carla Gugino loves the thrill of disappearing into characters, of becoming one with everything, from nurturing matriarchs ('Spy Kids') to hard-charging go-getters ('Entourage'). Fans often express amazement at her ability to capture such a wide range of personas, but Gugino credits her longtime acting teacher, Howard Fine, with giving her the tools to do so.






What Is Personalization? - By Marilyn McIntyre
Backstage | May 26, 2009

Every role, every creative situation, every professional job—whether on stage, in front of a camera, or at a microphone—is unique and requires you to use different tools from your actor's toolbox. Toolbox is simply another name for technique: It enables you to do multiple performances or multiple takes, each one personalized and presented as if for the first time. When used correctly, transference (also called substitution) can be a very effective tool for achieving personalization, as it can serve as a bridge between imagination and personal experience.





The Serious Art of Comedy - by Howard Fine
Backstage | October 8, 2008

Since the days of the ancient Greeks, comedy and drama have stood side by side. So why do serious actors freak out when asked to play a comic scene? We spend much of our lives trying to crack each other up. We wait for the right moment and then zing the other person with a sharp barb. Yet we pick up a funny scene and fear that we don't have comic timing.


Jean-Louis Rodrigue Movement Coach to the Stars
UCLA Magazine | June 5, 2008

Actress Hilary Swank faced a challenge: after her gender-bending, Oscar-winning performance as a woman living life as a man in Boys Don’t Cry, she wanted help transforming herself into the epitome of graceful femininity as an 18th century French countess in The Affair of the Necklace. So she turned to UCLA’s Jean-Louis Rodrigue.


The Myth of Creating a Character - by Howard Fine
Backstage | February 22, 2008

One of the greatest misconceptions about acting relates to creating a character. The actor makes the mistake of approaching the role as if it were a separate being, with its own mind, body, and soul. When your eyes open, your character's eyes open; when you take a breath, your character takes a breath; when you move, your character moves -- your character has no life independent from your own. Now, before you start screaming, let me explain.


Using Clothing to Suit Action to the Word - by Howard Fine
Backstage | February 5, 2007

Is there an actor who hasn't asked at one time or another, 'What should I wear to the audition to convince the casting director that I am this character?' But that's the wrong question to ask. Instead you should ask, "What should I wear to convince myself that I am this character?" My friend and mentor Uta Hagen used to say she couldn't even begin working on a role until she was wearing the right clothes. This is not to be confused with working externally. Rather, clothes help actors get in contact with different aspects of themselves.


Howard Fine Featured in Los Angeles Confidential Magazine
Los Angeles Confidential Magazine

To call Howard Fine an acting teacher in Hollywood is like saying water is wct. He is infactmuch more.Fineisconsidered bymany the most sought-after acting educator in the Industry. Just last year, an actors' trade magazine named him "Best Acting Teacher in LA" in its "Best of" issue. And although Fine is extremely reticent to name names, it is widely known that he's worked with hundreds of stars......


Howard Fine Named 'Best Acting Teacher in Los Angeles'

... This philosophy reflects that of Fine's mentor, Uta Hagen, whose classes at New York's HB Studio he would sit in on while still a high school student in Rhode Island. "She was never cruel but extremely specific in the work," he notes. "How can you not be inspired by someone who approached acting like a scientist, constantly trying to figure out how to make it better?"


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