Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) and Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) were two actors. Both are known for their state of mind, which are different and similar at the same time.
They don’t give a tinker’s damn
Where? Well, it spouts from all the texts, books, articles and interviews about them :
- The characters they impersonate often seem… floating, or watching, rarely “intense”. See Mitchum in Ryan’s Daughter.
- In their relationships with directors. Fellini, for example, adored Mastroianni because he was not the “I have another question” type. He just followed. He did what he was told to do. Like a clay ball.
- In their work. They never seemed to work a lot. But they were ready though. Mitchum is known for partying and drinking all night, then appearing on the set in the morning almost… defeated, then giving a splendid acting work in front of the camera.
- In their lives.
This “I’m not really here” state is hard to name. Aloof sounds a bit snob, right? And indeed I don’t think it’s really a decision.
Here we also touch the Paradox of the Actor : “Do great actors experience the emotions they are displaying?”.
What are the limits of Actor’s Studio‘s methods? Mitchum was much less pulling faces than De Niro in their respective role of the bad guy in the two different versions of Cape Fear (1962 and 1991) – and Mitchum is said to be much more terrifying.
Is it a state of floating? Of being a “watcher”? Of being cool? Clever? Indifferent? Polite? A genius? A zen master like “I observe but I don’t judge”?
Is it a wisdom, an elegance of life, a modern, Chekhovian way of knowing that all is NOT that important, and we’ll die pretty soon, and let’s stand up cool, nothing big deal?
Thanks for reading!