JMS: on acting

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Mon Sep 15 06:49:00 EDT 1997

From: Blair Leatherwood <bleatherwood at>
Date: 15 Sep 1997 02:32:53 -0400
Lines: 41

Several times in the past you have commented on the fact that you look
for stage-trained actors (or at least favor them in casting).  You have
cited this as a reason for leaning toward British actors due to their
primarily stage-based craft.

For some time I have been developing a theory about levels of acting in
the various media which seems to correspond with your thinking.
Watching "No Surrender, No Retreat" reinforces this thought.

By hiring stage-trained actors, you are able to dig deeper into
motivations and character.  I believe that someone who has gotten most
of their experience through the small screen is, for some reason, unable
to present more than one emotion (or intention) at a time.  This is one
reason why so much TV acting is flat.  Someone who is trained on the
stage is able (for whatever reason) to communicate many levels at the
same moment.  One needs only look at the interaction between Peter and
Andreas to know what I mean.  I have often been struck by the depth of
their scenes; they go far beyond the "I'm trying to make your head
explode" subtext that Jerry states is his primary motivation (although I
don't entirely believe him since he does go somewhat beyond that).

I appreciate your determination to look for these people.  If you were
writing this as a printed novel, you would be able to bring us into
their minds and explore these various levels (since there are few few
moments in life where we are experiencing only one feeling); since you
must rely on the actors and director to bring these levels to life, you
must find the people capable of pulling it off.  Congratulations on
being able to stick to your standards (I am still amazed that the story
is almost done and the minefield has been traversed with minimal
injury--I'm sure you are as well).

I also wanted to thank whoever it was (you, Peter, or Mike Vejar) who
decided to have Londo just walk out of the room after G'Kar's
rejection.  Too often we see a false exit or a hesitation at the door.
It was much more unsettling (and showed Londo's rejection better) to
have him leave without a word, defeated.

Again, thanks for this wonderful ride we're on; I'm looking forward to
the final lap.


From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 15 Sep 1997 04:22:33 -0400
Lines: 11

I agree.  What a classically trained (or stage trained) actor can do is
dig in and get at the subtext of the performance, which is generally where
all the good stuff happens.  All too often a non-classically trained actor
just plays the surface context, what the scene *does* not what the scene *is*.


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