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The Obsessive Qualities of Actors

The Maggie Flanigan Studio provides actors with the training and foundation needed for long, professional acting careers. In this video, Charlie Sandlan discusses the obsessive qualities of the actor and artist.

charlie sandlan in meisner acting class at maggie flanigan studio

Actor and the Artist – Meisner Training with Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

There is an obsessive quality to any successful, serious artist. If you have the desire to attempt a career as an actor, I think its important to discover for yourself whether or not you truly have within you a deep love for the art form, and the willingness to dedicate your working life to mastering the craft. It’s one thing to say to yourself “I want to be an actor”, and quite another to actually figure out what that means. It’s hard to appreciate how hard it is to put together a first rate piece of acting. Great examples of artistry, Adam Driver in Marriage Story, Rene Zellweger in Judy, Joe Pesci in The Irishman, Charlize Theron in Bombshell, or the stage work of Mark Rylance, Cherry Jones, Janet McTeer, or Viola Davis to name just a few extraordinary actors, is truly humbling to anyone who understands the actor’s craft. To see work like theirs is to appreciate how obsessed an artist is with detail. That is artistry, the attention to detail, the meticulous work that goes into breathing life into another human experience, illuminating our humanity in all of it’s aspects.


"You can make money in this business and not be an artist. It has to do with the kind of actor you want to be, how hard you want to work and finding a place that will help clarify those things for you."

Charlie SandlanExecutive Director, Head of Acting

But what do the best actors actually obsess about, and how do you begin to discover what and how to do the same thing if this is the ambition for your life’s work? The students who come to study with me and my teachers want an answer to this question. The low hanging fruit of this profession are the untrained actors who have (usually because of looks or connections) carved out a paid, middling career creating general uninteresting work. They make money, which unfortunately is the cultural benchmark of success. But they aren’t artists. They are the hacks of this business. The best actors are obsessed with craft, with human behavior, with psychology, with the physical and vocal demands that come with true character work, with the truth of the part. They are obsessed with doing justice to the screenwriter or playwrights words, they are obsessed with confronting failure and insecurity, they are obsessed with their physical instrument and how to use it artistically, they are obsessed with their own intellectual curiosity about the world and human experience, they are obsessed with their art.

If you are really interested in acting, I think its important to find someone and somewhere to teach you what the art of acting actually requires from its artists. In order to build an artistic life, your work must rest on the mastery of the fundamentals of the art form. How do you get out of your head and into your heart, how do you learn to truthfully do under imaginary circumstances, how do you emotionally prepare off camera or off stage in order to connect to a previous circumstance, how do you get the attention off of yourself and onto what you are doing or who you are talking to, how do you craft in a personal, specific, and simple way, how do you listen and go from unanticipated moment to unanticipated moment, how do you get comfortable functioning from your rage, joy, grief, heartbreak, jealousy, fear, and shame, how do you rid your body of the tension and pedestrian behavior you have acquired over many decades, how do you get comfortable with conflict and intimacy? That takes serious training, and an obsessive passion to master the fundamentals.

If you aren’t interested in this, or find it unnecessary, then probably acting for you is just a hobby, or something you appreciate but don’t really want to do. And that’s ok. It’s important to come to a real understanding with yourself about what you are up for, about what you want to do with your life, about what will make you happy. Passion cannot be taught. What can be given to you are the things that a great actor should obsess about. What can be given to you is a way to create fully realized human behavior. What can be given to you is a wake up call, a challenge to either step up to a high artistic bar or not. What can be given to you is the space and time to transform yourself into the actor and artist you dream to be. So start with taking yourself seriously, get trained, and discover what makes acting the beautiful, courageous, and noble art that it is.

Meisner Training

Learn More About Meisner Training with Maggie Flanigan Studio

To learn more about Meisner training, and the acting programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, visit the acting programs page on the studio website ( or call (917) 794-3878 with questions about enrollment.

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