Herbie J Pilato: No “Bones” About It: Actors Should Interpret the Words of the Writer – Not Change Them To Suit Their Needs

We have it on good authority that all the Barrymores said what was in the script!

We have it on good authority that all the Barrymores said what was in the script (?!)

by Herbie J Pilato

A few years back, Zap2it.com reported how actor David Boreanaz, star of the Fox forensic drama Bones (and former lead vampire on Angel and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) found it was acceptable to improvise the lines of dialogue he’s given to perform.

However, Boreanaz wasn’t allowed to do that on Angel and Buffy, as Joss Whedon, the creator, producer and periodic director of both shows, forbade such acting antics.  “That became very frustrating,” Boreanaz said at the time.  “For an actor to be able to create and also have a sense of freedom, you have to be able to revolve around those words and create around those words. Now, you can take the written word and have your subtext tell more than is written on the page, which is always fun and challenging too. But it’s always great to revolve around the words and improvise and change things, because that comes from the character’s perspective and point of view.”

Oh, pluueeze! Dude, this isn’t Whose Line Is It Anyway, and you’re not Drew Carey.  You’re an actor and, as any true thespian will tell you, that, when it comes to your craft, one is ultimately and ideally supposed to interpret the given lines that a writer (be they William Shakespeare or Aaron Spelling) has written, word for word.

That’s what you call acting!

Improvisation is cute and funny, and it may help one to finally arrive at the correct interpretation of the given character.  But to actually employ improvisation in a final performance on what is supposed to be a scripted fiction show?

Ah – no.

You don’t win Emmys and Oscars for that.

Or at least you shouldn’t.

So to all you actors out there, just stick to the script.  If you have problems with the writing, that’s a different story.  Talk to your producers, and then maybe…just maybe…you’ll have a chance to together with the writer, come up with improved teleplays (not improvised) – and adhere to what’s written.

If you don’t, it’s kinda’ like parking in a handicap space, when you’re perfectly capable of walking.

Or something like that.

Either way, for an actor to improvise his way out of a given script upon which a writer worked diligently, probably for weeks…well, it’s just plain wrong.

In fact, it’s more than wrong.

It’s cheating.

You can act your way through life all you want.

But nobody likes a cheater.

Especially in Hollywood.

About Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life