By Agnes Moorehead
Acting is my business and I'm happy only when hard at work acting or preparing for a role. I detest inactivity. During those periods when I find myself at liberty from radio, cinema and stage work, a 24-hour day isn't long enough for me to accomplish the many things I want to do. I read everything as it comes to me from play and book publishers, allot time for my music studies, and even manage to brush up on foreign languages. In short, I believe study and research in any and all fields is vitally important to me both as a woman and as an actress.
I am never quite satisfied with any one particular performance of mine. It's with a deep sense of appreciation that I listen to those who tell me of my work being good. It's then that I begin to lose myself all over again in the next role I'm to play. My chief concern, forgetting all else, is to meet the demands of this new part with everything at my command. I firmly believe that too much self-satisfaction is a drug which dullens the creative forces within the actor who feels he's "accomplished quite everything" in his playing a certain role.
Having worked in theatre, radio and cinema, I can truthfully say that I prefer no one medium to the other. With an excellent story, backed with fine direction and good supporting players, each of these three mediums prove wonderfully exciting to me. No, they are not. I like to tackle these difficult assignments, yes, but I'm always on the look out for a wider scope of roles which would present a real threat to me. To be "typed" in my profession is not to my liking. I want to take my chances in playing every kind of woman imaginable. A variety of roles is necessary to the performer who is primarily concerned with becoming an all around portrayer of people from every walk of life.
Loving a good story as I do, it's always a delight for me to find a cinema director and technical crew who fully understand the story they are to film and the characters within it. Preliminary work and details cleared away in advance, such as the American director Orson Welles is so capable of doing, the actor finds himself free and unhampered in order to get right down to the core of his work...portraying the character.
Fine cinema directors, and there have been many I've worked with, fully understand the characters within the story and their relation to each other. Holding the reigns of the production with a firm hand, such a director will allow the actor to build his or her own character. This director will make suggestions, encourage the player her and there, and then perhaps he'll throw an entirely new light upon the character being played. This is when you have the director and the actor working in complete harmony. The talent of one compliments and blends with that of the other. The results are amazing. Together they create a character which truly draws breath...their combined work actually brings to the screen an honest portrait borrowed from life.
At this writing I am in Palma De Mallorca working in the picture "Black Jack" which is under the direction of Julien Duvivier. I must say that working with Mr. Duvivier, a great director whose work I have admired for a long time, is a great stimulation to me as an actress. Spain is a colorful country and my Spanish co-workers have been most kind helping me on the "Black Jack" sets.
I've met some very interesting people here in Spain and my close observation of them will no doubt prove invaluable when one of these years I'm asked to portray a Spanish lady in a Hollywood production.
- finis -