“I’ve spent a big chunk of my career being a guest actor, and it’s the hardest thing to do because you always have to hit the ground running.” – Bradley Whitford
Three-time Emmy Award-winning actor Bradley Whitford has starred on several successful television series, including The West Wing, Transparent and The Handmaid’s Tale in a career that stretches back to late 1980s movies like Adventures in Babysitting and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. In his early acting years, Whitford also appeared on soap operas and, in an interview with Soaps.com, he spoke about his television work and what he specifically learned about television acting from his soap opera experience.
Whitford notes that starring in an ongoing series is obviously a positive thing — but that getting comfortable in a role should not be used as an opportunity to be lazy. He explains, “When you get to do a TV show for the first time, it’s your first chance to really act. Once a TV show is up and running, and has an audience, you’re not worried if it’s going to fundamentally work – and there’s a relaxation that happens. That relaxation can make you lazy, or it can be an opportunity to hone some extraordinary skills.”
Another example that Whitford gives as an educational experience for his acting career was his time performing on All My Children and Guiding Light in the 1980s. “It goes phenomenally quickly. It’s so fast. And just realizing that you can get through something – I was basically a guest actor on there, and I’ve spent a big chunk of my career being a guest actor, and it’s the hardest thing to do because you always have to hit the ground running. You’re not family; you’re surrounded by a group of people who are totally comfortable with each other. It can be difficult to show up as a guest for work on your first day and really feel like your blood is flowing. We always worked fast on The West Wing, and what I learned on soaps is I really know how to work fast. Just knowing that is an important lesson to learn.”