Annette Bening, Naomie Harris on Vulnerability in Acting: ‘Our Business Is Intimacy’

A pre-requisite for being an actor is having the ability to connect with a complete stranger. During a one-on-one interview for Variety’s fifth season of “Actors on Actors,” “20th Century Women” star Annette Bening and “Moonlight” star Naomie Harris discussed both the importance and beauty of being vulnerable on set.

Bening explained that it is absolutely vital to connect with a co-star in order to execute a convincing performance.

“Our business is intimacy. Our job is to find that thing that is between people — that even though you don’t necessarily know the person that you are playing opposite — you imbue the other person with that … you understand that is what the camera needs to see,” Bening said.

Harris agreed, comparing the experience of acting to real life.

“In real life I find that really difficult, because everybody goes around and they are wearing these masks,” Harris said. “It’s so beautiful, so magical being on a set because when you are acting, you have to let your guard down, and connect on a really soulful level and that’s very rare you do that with anybody, and to do that with a stranger is such an extraordinary thing.”

Harris added her discontent with people labeling actors as “prima donnas,” saying that it is nearly impossible for an actor to act in such a way in a role that requires so much intimacy.

“Its so amazing that people talk about actors and say they are prima donnas, they’re difficult, because that is not my experience at all, they have to be open to do their jobs,” Harris said.

The interview will air on Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” on PBS SoCal, which debuts its fifth season on Jan. 3. Click here for the full video.

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