I've been thinking lately about the people who inspire me... specifically, the actors who inspire me. So I was pondering to myself what exactly is it that I'm inspired by?
My first answer was really good acting. Okay, but what does that mean? I was considering a few of the actors I admire - Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon. I think what they have in common is an ability to play, and play well, a diverse array of characters... to act a character, rather than a type.
So many big-name actors are big simply because we like the role they act - and that's all they do, one role - the moody action hero, or the smart sexy powerful chick, or the cute funny girl. Which is fine. There's a place for that. (a big wealthy famous place, obviously.)
Hmmm, but that's not a good enough answer. They can play great, varying characters... but how? How do they do it? What exactly is it about them that I aspire to? (apart from the means to buy one's own island in the Bahamas of course...)
Maybe it can't be defined. Maybe "good acting" is just an innate ability, something you either can do or can't do ("there's what a man can do, and what a man can't do"; thanks, Captain Jack) Is it following your artistic instinct; throwing caution to the wind; taking risks; trying new things. Mostly - having the confidence in yourself to let yourself do all those things. The confidence to stand up and say "I'll do that, and I'll do it with all I've got." A dedication to artistic interest, no matter what the rest of the world might think of it.
Speaking of throwing caution to the wind - Toni Collette dropped out of NIDA to do Muriel's Wedding, against the advice of her teachers. That rocks. That alone gets her on my people who inspire me list.
Apart from their talents, the people on my list are there also because of their commitment to their families and their private life. I love that Johnny Depp keeps his children out of the public eye (I didn't even know he had kids until a few weeks ago), and that he and Vanessa are able to get on with their careers and do plenty of great work while still having (what appears to be) a wonderful family relationship. Nicole Kidman is the same with her kids - you never even hear about them, which I think is great. Susan Sarandon and her kids volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens on weekends. She's teaching those kids that there's way more to life than having a fabulous career... more celebrity's kids could do with that kind of normality in their lives. (And I'm sure there are plenty of others who do have that even with celebrity parents, just that these are the ones I know of.)
Okay enough rambling about that... my own normal (wonderful!) kids need me...