Empathy

From the same interview I linked to last week, Laura Dern talks about how she needs to have empathy for her characters (as do her directors). To judge them makes it impossible for her to be as free and creative as she needs to be. 

The great gift that I’ve been given in the parts that I’ve been able to play [is that the characters] are deeply complicated and they are deeply flawed. And with that can come a great deal of judgement. So I won’t be in judgement of them because I can’t play a part if I am... What’s the most truthful thing that this person can do? And it may not be pretty and it may not be kind and it may be embarrassing but it’s the truth.

In a recent LA Times roundtable of Hollywood actresses, Jennifer Aniston, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Shailene Woodley touch on the same subject.

Aniston: But for Claire, I just had a lot of empathy for her struggle and I think she is beautiful and I think problems and her choices and her journey is beautiful in the fact that we feel empathy for people going through pain.

Blunt: I think that’s almost what it is sometimes if you sum up what acting is. It’s just the ultimate expression of empathy.

[LA Times]: Have you ever played someone who is hard to empathize with?

Blunt: I guess “The Devil Wears Prada” girl. I mean she was just vile.

[LA Times]: Yeah, she was a tough cookie.

Blunt: She was but I got it. She was desperate and I just decided to play desperate rather than bitchy. Her whole identity was wrapped up in the fashion industry. And so without it she was nothing.

Chastain: I find that the monsters are usually the people that I have the most empathy for because they’re the ones that are hurt the most. There’s a reason why they’re the monsters.