It always amuses me when actors pretend to get shy around the media. Most of them, even if they deny it, are actors because they love and crave attention. As children, they were the first to jump up in front of a group and “perform.”
Many actors are also pretty insecure people. I mean, think about it. They turn their life’s objective into avoiding their true selves in exchange for always being somebody else. The good ones get paid for it. Sometimes, actors find out there’s very little time left to be themselves, and some might even forget who they used to be all together.
Actors could also be called professional liars. The good ones are so good at lying, that you actually believe what they’re saying and feeling. Even though it’s totally fake. I mean, it’s a movie, right!? Someone wrote that for him or her to say. And in some cases, this isn’t always exclusive to their performances on screen. Sometimes the good actors can achieve amazing results in normal day-to-day life.
Anyway, if you’re a director or producer and you ever come upon an actor who is shy around the media, or afraid to do interviews with the press, you might need to pretend you understand them, and hold their hands, but know, deep down, by the time they get into the interview they’ll be all lit up, performing, doing what they do best. And they always eat it up. You’ll see.
Depending on the actor, it may be a good idea to give them a script to follow. Some actors are brilliant at improvisation. But many need a back-story, a character arc and a sheet of dialogue. Or, at least, talking bullet points.
I like to supply my actors with a go-to bullet point list of topics to discuss about our movie. Questions to answer in a precise way, using careful language. Sometimes I’ll even include a list of topics to avoid, such as, giving away any plot secrets, or proprietary information.
Another idea I’ve advised other filmmakers in the past, is to be a kind of go-between with the media. Have the interviewer send you the questions first, so you can look over them and make sure there’s nothing offensive asked, or anything that might cause the project harm. And, likewise, maybe there’s a question asked the actor would otherwise not know how to answer—so you can tell the actor what to say.
Or, you could simply tell the interviewer you’ll pass along their email address or phone number to the actor and let the actor take it from there. I guess it depends on which way make you more comfortable. Some of the more famous actors don’t like having their email or number given out, so in most cases dealing with a celebrity of any kind, this will be the best avenue to take.
Actors are a funny bunch, and of course I was generalizing their personalities at the start of this article. Not every actor acts like that, and not all of them are ruthless self-absorbed fame-hungry monsters. Some of my greatest friends are amazing actors and their gifts and talent are greatly appreciated. Without actors, there’s no such thing as a movie. So we need them. And we need to cherish them. But, when it comes time to promote your movie, you might need to nudge them a little bit this way or that.