Analysis Of The Authenticity Of An Actor’s Persona

1543 words - 7 pages

An actor often has to take on vastly different roles for the production of a large variety of films. In the development of these roles, the actor constructs different sets of personae by the use of specific gestures, vocalics as well as speech content, in order to aid the communication of ideas and thoughts. Hence for an actor whose profession involves the practice of portraying fictional characters with authenticity, it is almost impossible to determine if his persona off the screen is truly authentic. This is especially so for widely acclaimed actors, in particular Oscar nominees, whose portrayals of characters have been done with such expertise that it has earned them accolades. This paper will analyse and compare the personalities of Russell Crowe and Peter Sellers, two widely acclaimed but controversial actors, with their public personae that surfaced in televised interviews. Major discrepancies will aid us in determining the inauthenticity of their personae, which may have seemed genuine in the absence of prior comparison. Since audiences are unable to accurately determine the authenticity of these actors’ personae displayed in broadcast interviews, the use of authenticity as a yardstick when analysing personae seems to be irrelevant in this context.

According to Montgomery (2001), authenticity in talk can be determined by certain features. Firstly, spontaneous and uncontrived talk, also known as ‘fresh’ talk, is considered authentic. Talk which captures or presents the speaker’s experiences as well as projects his core self and values also fits the criteria of authenticity. In this paper, it follows that if the talk is deemed to be authentic by Montgomery’s definition, the persona portrayed by the speaker as he speaks would be considered authentic by the audience as well.

In his interview with James Lipton (Bravo, 2004), Crowe portrayed a shy and reserved persona, evident from his gestures and lexical choices. According to Galati and Brennan (2013), gestures are integrated, co-expressed and coordinated with speech. Hence they often complement speech in the expression or emphasis of ideas and thoughts. Throughout Crowe’s interview, it is observed that he often looked down at his hands (04:15 – 05:15) instead of at the interviewer or the audience (refer to Figure 1). This, paired with a lack of eye contact when speaking, indicated the shy persona (Sathre-Eldon et al as cited by Atkins, 1988) Crowe seemed to portray in the interview. Crowe’s use of hand gestures was also limited, and for long periods of time his hands were placed firmly on his lap (04:20 – 04:50, 05:55 – 06:25) (refer to Figure 1). When gestures were utilised, Crowe used the open hand (refer to Figure 2) most frequently, for instance when he shared about his first experience on a filming set as a child (04:29, 04:35). Open hand gestures invite response; hence by using this gesture, Crowe seemed to be inviting support from the audience (Streeck, 2008). In...

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