Wednesday, May 16, 2012


How do you define Presence? Is it something that can be developed? Can you increase charisma?

Isaach de Bankole in Chocolat by Claire Denis
"In 1988, I got cast in a small role in Chocolat by Claire Denis, and flew to Africa (Cameroon) to shoot for two weeks. There, I could observe well-known actors in a more traditional type of movie. My part was very small and quick. I was playing a white woman who would get very sick and cry in pain, but her husband would not tolerate the fact that a black doctor would have to take care of her. It was always easy for me to dive into the pain, so the shooting went quickly. After I was done, I went to the set daily to watch the others. I could see the way the lead actors were concentrating, focusing, tuning inward. Isaac de Bankolé played the black African servant to the white colonists, who fascinated the mistress of the house by his fierce beauty. He did not have a word to say in this part. His role was the lead, but was completely silent. Isaac was doing remarkable work, taking everything in and expressing subtle ties. This was again an incredible learning experience. I discovered that presence is something immaterial; it does not rely on words. It relies on character development. The energy of his character was radiating through him without the use of words. It was passing through his look, his eyes, his hands, his posture, and even his back, when he was turning away from the camera. His masculine strength and energy was shining through him, via his instinct. I then realized that too often actors get caught up in the words, in the analysis of the text, instead of letting their instinct and higher intuition guide them. They use their mind and intellect. Isaac used his guts. I was beginning to understand. It was Lesson #4: Presence is an immaterial energy. It does not rely on words; it shines through the character."

Exert; A BALANCING ACT © Emmanuelle Chaulet 2008

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