How cool would it be to have a one-on-one master class with Dustin Hoffman? Actually, cool is the tamest word I could use. Fantastically awesome might cover it I’d think, right? terrific
With MasterClass, that awesomeness is now possible.
MasterClass is a new website that brings together people who are at the top of their game to give classes on their profession. Currently featured on the site are Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, James Patterson teaching writing, Serena Williams teaching tennis and of course, Hoffman teaching acting.
His course has 24 lessons in all including his method of working, relating to your character, researching your character, acting classes, creating your character, auditions and many more. It’s really everything you could ask for.
And each lesson is as valuable as the next because he layers the information with his past real world experiences, like stories filming Rainman or Tootsie and working with directors Barry Levinson and the late Mike Nichols. He tells tales of Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall and being taught by the famed acting teacher Lee Strasburg – and the time he even yelled at him during class. The stories alone are worth it.
Each lesson is relatively brief, between 10 and 15 minutes long. You could watch them all in one burst or watch one at a time and let them sink in. I preferred taking them in by watching them over a week. I found that I was thinking about each lesson throughout the day, letting them percolate in my brain.
Another part of the lessons are scene work. There are two 5-part lessons where he directs a pair of young actors in scenes from Jerry Maguire and Good Will Hunting. In the first lesson, you can see the actors begin the scene and frankly, they’re just OK. Nothing extremely special. But over the course of Hoffman’s direction, they are transformed so much so that the final product is terrific. What he’s pulled out of them is brilliant.
At times, he catches them “acting” and he drills it out of them until the scenes are just a conversation. What we are all striving for, right? And it’s only towards the final lesson that you see how intimate the whole process really was. Watching him direct these actors and seeing his technique, it makes you immediately want to pick up a scene and start to work on it.
A couple brief gems from the lessons:
- Instead of running lines with someone, he writes them down to get a better handle on them.
- When you’re in a scene, don’t talk to the “characters”. Talk to each other.
- When you are first given a character, you need to find a way to say, “That’s me.”
I honestly can’t say enough good things about this class. Hoffman is one of my acting idols and just to have these moments with him telling you about the craft of being an actor is a true joy. This is perfect for both those actors who’ve been in the game a while (like me) and those just starting out. If you have any sort of passion for acting, this MasterClass will energize you like nothing else.
For more information, go to www.masterclass.com