Initially, Irons had two separate dressing rooms for each character, both with their own wardrobe, but he soon realized that “the whole point of the story is you should sometimes be confused as to which is which.” From that point onwards, he used a single dressing room and mixed the wardrobes together, finding an “internal way” to play each character differently. Irons cites the Alexander technique as the reason he was able to give the characters “different energy points”, weighting one brother on the balls of his feet and the other on his heels. He developed different postures and voice modulations for each as well.
Rickman has spoken of how he used the Alexander Technique — pioneered by Shakespearean orator Frederick Matthias Alexander in the late 1800s — to create a “balanced sense of tension rather than relying on creating tension to do something in order to produce a sound or an act that is preconceived.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Rickman. At least we can still hear you in film.
In a recent interview for the Daily Telegraph, John Cleese reveals his "secret ritual" for preparing to perform: the same "constructive rest" Alexander Technique procedure I teach all my students.
“I lie on the floor with a book under my head, my knees up and my feet flat on the floor, very, very quiet for about half an hour.” ... “If I do that then I always go on stage feeling good. It is one of the reasons I am not terribly keen on having people visiting me before the show, I like that period of absolute quiet to get completely relaxed. Then when I go on stage I am going to be much funnier if I’m relaxed than if I’m still a bit wound up.”
Another fine actor uses the Alexander Technique to discover how his character should move.
Jonathan Tucker, on preparing for his role of Boon in the final season of Justified:
To take on the role of Boon, Tucker used the Alexander Technique, which puts a premium on the physical aspects of a character. “It puts you into a physical place from which the rest of your choices are informed,” he says. “Everybody walks differently and talks differently. It’s important to incorporate that. Teaching actors how to find their neutral spine allows them to make choices from there.” http://www.ew.com/article/2015/12/10/jonathan-tucker-kingdom-hannibal-roles
My recent trip to the reunion of the Frankfurt Ballet reminded me just how much I love working with dancers, musicians and other performing artists. I have therefore decided to offer students and young professionals a chance to study with me at a very low price of just €25 for a full, 30 minute lesson.
The current issue of OK! magazine has another article about Alexander Technique, this one focused on the A-list celebraties who use it. Madonna, Hilary Swank, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Joanna Lumley, Sir Paul McCartney, William Hurt, Pierce Brosnan, Sting, Julia Sawalha, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Saunders, Ruby Wax, John Cleese, Robin Williams… the list goes on and on.
It turns out that at least one James Bond is a devoted fan of Alexander Technique. Which one? Why, the most suave and sophisticated one, of course! The one who oozed poise even as the bullets were flying. James Bond star Pierce Brosnan is a fan of the Alexander Technique, but I was a fan of his before I knew that.
Elizabeth Huebner teaches the Alexander Technique to Luke Daniels, a drama student in the master of fine arts program.
Photo by Peter Morenus
The University of Connecticut’s Advance web site has a full-page article about Elizabeth Huebner’s work in the master of fine arts program teaching Alexander Technique to actors. It quotes one of her students regarding the effect of the Technique on emotional expression, an effect that we teachers perhaps don’t talk about very much.
An actor wants to be able to play the body of any character, says acting student Chris Hirsh.
“To do that,” he says, “you have to get rid of your habits. If you habitually bend forward at the top of your shoulders and protrude your head and neck forward, you have to understand how to correct that. The Alexander Technique helps accomplish that.”
Hirsh says the technique also “opens you emotionally.
When your body is aligned properly, you become a more open channel to the emotions that may or may not flow out of you. You have fuller freedom of emotional expression.”