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  • Writer's pictureRicky Zalman

A is for...

Updated: Jul 4, 2020


1 A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in films, or on television.

Why did I want to be an actor? Why would anyone want to be an actor? Most people remember the moment they got it. How could you forget it? It's the reason why we play this crazy game. I'm talking about the acting bug.

I know where I got mine, and I genuinely mean it when I say I've almost had it since birth... The very first film I ever saw was Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989), and with larger than life characters including Michael Keaton's brooding Batman and Jack Nicholson's masterful performance as 'the clown prince of crime'; The Joker, there couldn't have been a better introduction to the world of film, performance, and acting. The franchise then spanned sequels, now mocked for it's flamboyancy in the mid-nineties, however the actors it drew to the cast became larger and larger; Michael Gough, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the stars of the 1990's, and they all wanted in on the franchise.

I was around two years old, and remember lifting one of those large fairground teddy's onto the sofa, only to suspend it over the edge and recreate the moment Batman dangles a thief from a rooftop in the '89 movie. I'd pull the teddy in close for that mighty line, "I'm BATMAN", and then mercilessly release my grip and drop the teddy to it's impending doom centimetres from the ground. This was the first time I remember playing someone else; acting out what I had seen on screen. From then on I'd remember whole chunks of dialogue from films I watched, often pages of it! When I was taken to the cinema I'd be asked "what was your favourite part?", which was often followed by a fifteen minute recreation of the film we'd just seen.

As well as my affinity for these characters, this memory also serves as the catalyst for a longing to play 'make believe'. I also believed, up until around age five, that people who appeared on the television weren't real people; believing they somehow lived in a screen somewhere that was broadcast worldwide. A bit like The Trueman Show (another one of my favourite films), but reality. To be fair, the way television and media is heading isn't far off from this idea!

However, it wasn't until I saw my first theatre production I realised this wasn't the case, and that's when I fell in love with theatre. It was The Wizard of Oz at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon. It must have been 1995 when this all started. I've been told I sat, mouth open, in awe the entire time from when the curtain went up, until the curtain came down. I love the sense of wonder and magic that still resinates with people of all ages, even today.

"We're actors - we're the opposites of people!"

The Player, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

I truly believe actors should be celebrated. We tell stories people want to hear, remember the past, reflect the present and offer an often uncomfortable view of the future. With this in mind, I want to share a poem I received from a director I once worked with. The sincerity and truth behind each line is a heartwarming reminder of the dedication and sacrifices actors make year in, year out in order to follow their dreams, and to entertain audiences. Remember these lines next time you go to the cinema or theatre, watch a clip on YouTube, or simply watch your favourite show on TV.

Do you remember how, when or where you caught the acting bug? Where you inspired by a show? A film? Or maybe you read a play and couldn't put it down? I'd love to hear your stories, so feel free to share yours below!

Stay tuned for my next entry in my #ActorsAtoZ : B is for...

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