Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Years ago, I taught acting at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in Los Angeles. Besides teaching, I conducted seminars with some amazing actors, including Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Steve McQueen. McQueen had long hair at the time. He had just finished shooting Enemy Of The People by Henrik Ibsen, a definite departure from his usual tough guy roles.
He spoke about his acting process. He said, “I work very hard to make it look easy. He believed that movie acting was not about words and that anything that could be said without words was stronger on film than anything that could be said with words.
He was a behaviorist. If you watch BULLET, you will observe that he does not have a lot of dialogue, but that his behavior speaks volumes. He did not enjoy learning lines. Learning lines was like purgatory, he said. He actually hired a Hollywood Screenwriter to cut half of his dialogue. That was unheard of and only a big star could yield that kind of power. However, he did it and it worked for him. When I think of his remark, “I work very hard to make it look easy” I find myself equating that with what Michael Chekhov said about how acting should always have “the gift of ease” McQueen had that, he was the King of Cool.