Become Los Angeles’ Next Big Star as You Learn to Start an Acting Career in This AMA Event

Maria L.
Jan 21, 2018

Everybody wants a spot under the limelight, but nobody knows the struggle behind getting (and keeping!) you there. Being around the industry and meeting hundreds of professionals over the years, Mr. Coburn knows everything needed to secure an acting career and he had them all discussed in his recent AMA event. Below are some responses we got from the thread:

QUESTION: If the famous are not studying in the same school you are training to, how do they enhance their own acting career?

First, you have to make the distinction between actors and movie stars.  Rarely are the two found in the same person. Katherine Hepburn was both.  Brando, Streep, a few others were actors before they were movie stars and maintained the discipline required of the artist throughout their careers.  Let me be further clear that I am retired and no longer teach so I'm not selling anything here.  Given and individual's talent, any training might bring it to fruition.  Musicians and dancers NEVER stop training.  Only actors are so lazy that they believe they can stop training at some point and keep the edge that placed them in the leads for which they worked.

QUESTION: It seemed from your forum that actors have to continuously study and train for his craft. Is this necessary even for the big names?

I know a few big names who still study and I know of a few more.  If you put them all together in one room you might have a good cast for something.  Is it necessary to keep studying and training to be a movie star?  No, a top-tier publicist is necessary to be a movie star.  Being on the cover of 5 or 6 magazines every month is necessary to be a movie star.  Keeping your name and face what is called "Top Of Mind Unaided Recall" as a brand in the minds of the ticket-buying public is absolutely required to be a movie star but it's never required that one know how to act to be a movie star.

QUESTION: How do actors survive it after fame? Do they have to have other businesses to continuously earn, even without a film or a movie project?

I don't know.  I was mildly popular as a radio personality.  I had stalkers.  Really unhappy and confused people who imagined very deeply about me and them.  They might be annoying, creepy or dangerous but they made making personal appearances uncomfortable.  I had to be clear with a Bowling Alley manager, for instance, that she should expect to see a specific individual and to be prepared.  Many TV actors only do one show and live off of the residuals for the rest of their lives.  Many others go into other areas of the industry.  I know of one fellow who was very popular years ago and learned that he had particular skills in money management which other actors wanted and he has worked in that every since.  I friend of mine owns malls.  Another has restaurants.  If they sock away 1.5 million in their portfolios they can live off of a trust forever.  There are a lot more who spend every dime as soon as they make it.  The answer is exacly like every other success in every other industry.  Some people win the lottery and manage their winnings, some lose their winnings and never win again.

QUESTION: You said 3 projects a year is good enough. What is enough for which kind of lifestyle?

I didn't say 3 projects a year is good enough.  Without looking, I may have said 3 projects a year is a good beginning or a reasonable expectation from 100 auditions.  There are over 500,000 people in Los Angeles who call themselves actors.  From Boston to Washington probably three times that amount.  In L.A. about 150,000 of them are members of the Union (SAG/AFTRA) and from that number about 40,000 make their livings exclusively from acting jobs.  At the top, maybe 1,000 make astronomical sums of money in any given year.  Some of them are Disk Jockeys and TV personalities who you have never heard of.  There are fewer than 500 people at any given time who are currently popular enough to be called "Movie Stars".  The lifestyle that holds appeal for you must be in there somewhere.  There are no rules.

QUESTION: Can actors be a good Director? Can you also pursue that path, yourself?

Ron Howard may be the best example of successfully utilizing those transferable skills.  He tells outstanding stories and his work is immaculate.  Having said that there is not much in the way of skill sets that is transferable from acting to directing.  Learning how to talk to actors is one thing directors never seem to pursue, to their detriment.  How you could want to direct and never learn the language of acting except in the most superficial and stupid ways has always dumbfounded me.  James Franco made the transition (and a lot of mistakes along the way) while Sean Penn, not so much.  His directing is hackneyed but he can act with great depth and emotional understanding.  Most directors have no idea how deep an experience can be because they have only worked with hack actors (my son calls 'em Hacktors) and that's too bad.  There would be a lot more Scorcese's in the world if they knew what was possible beyond just framing eyes in the top third and having all the action go from left to right.  Okay, now I'm being petty.  Me?  I'm hundreds of years old, I don't have time to learn another art form and I'm not what one would call collaborative.  Movies are 100% collaborative.  Choose directors wisely.  Thanks for asking.

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