Anatomy of the Actor.

“Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself.”

Sir John Geilgud


This course analyses the craft of acting throughout motion picture history, understanding the techniques and disciplines, analysing the actors process,  and savouring some of the finest performances committed to celluloid.


The course is ideal if you’re a student of acting, a filmmaker, or simply a film fan.  

We will take a peak behind the curtain and find out how an actor approaches their work and discover how their approach has informed some of the most memorable performances and created some of the most enduring characters of all time.


The course mostly covers cinema history through the Hollywood and independent system, but also draws upon examples from World Cinema.



Week 1 - The Evolution of Acting Style

From the heightened style of the silent era, to the machine-gun-fire pitter-patter of the 1940’s, through to the mumbling realism of contemporary independent cinema.

We look at how acting styles have evolved throughout cinema history and how changing technologies have influenced the craft and technique of acting.

Suggested viewing: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Marathon Man (1976) The Social Network (2010)



Week 2 - The Disciplines

Stanislavski, Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, Mamet…

We look at the different techniques that these practitioners have proposed throughout the history of acting. Contrasting the methods, using film examples and discussing these techniques in the context of the genres they are most commonly found.

Suggested viewing: The Godfather (1972), Taxi Driver (1976), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)



Week 3 - Out on a Limb

We look at how far actors are prepared to go in their pursuit of the truth.

Whether its extreme physical transformations or exploring their emotional limits, we look at examples of actors in motion picture history that have pushed the boundaries of endurance and sanity!

Suggested Viewing: My Left Foot (1989), The Dark Knight (2008), The Machinist (2004)



Week 4 - The Masters

Streep, Brando, Bergman, De-Niro…

We examine some of the greats of the cinema screen.  From the instinctual method of Brando, to the studied craft of Streep.  We dip into cinema history to analyse some of our most revered actors, bringing our analysis up to date to some of contemporary cinemas most exciting talents.

Suggested Viewing: Kramer vs Kramer (1979), On the Waterfront (1954), Casablanca (1942)



Week 5 - Character vs Personality


When Sean Connery graced cinema scenes we know what and who we were getting.  Connery’s persona was arguably bigger than part itself.

Contrast this with an actor like Michael Fassbender, whose chameleon-like quality renders the actors own personality invisible.

Both approaches are equally valid, both are equally exciting.

We contrast the two styles and enjoy some of cinemas finest actors and heir performances.

Suggested viewing: The Untouchables (1987), Shame (2011)



Week 6 - The English abroad

Hollywood has always had a fascination for British talent, which is extraordinary given the sheer geographical scope of talent they have to draw on in the US.  We look at why British talent has prospered in America and explore some of the reasons that have made British actors so revered.

Suggested viewing: Bridge of Spies (2015), Apt Pupil (1998)

Course runs from 11 February 2021 for 6 weeks at 8pm GMT for 2 hours per session.   Total cost £42