Ian McKellen admits that it has taken time and life experience to develop the self-confidence that now helps fuel his dynamic roles.
“Suppose it had been me who played Tom Jones , not Albert Finney?” he said.
“There was never any question of me playing those sorts of parts.
“I was a frightened little gay boy [he publicly came out in 1988] who was putting his liberty in jeopardy every time he made love because it was against the law at the time.
“I wasn’t ready to be a big anything… I’ve got the self-confidence now, nothing frightens me.” [Entertainment Weekly May 19 2006]
Sometimes an external aspect of a role can fuel confidence.
“Every time I put on that suit I felt a sense of surreal power.”
That is what Halle Berry said about her costume for “Catwoman.”
But self-assurance may not be an enduring experience, even for someone with strong talents.
Nicolas Cage has admitted, “I beat myself up every time I start a film but that’s certainly not unique.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t beat themselves up at one time or another. I think that’s human nature…”
He said that doing ‘Adaptation’ “literally rejuvenated me. Seeing the kind of chances Spike [Jonze] and Charlie [Kaufman] take made me want to do the same.
“That’s why I decided to direct.. [which] was an exhilarating experience because it proved I’m still pushing my limits.
“It’s so exciting for me to be creatively naked. That’s how I felt when I first started out.”
[Photo: Nicolas Cage in Adaptation from article Dealing With Worry and Anxiety To Be More Creative.]
Psychotherapist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
In one of her articles on her site, she notes:
As a creative or a performer you know too well that moment when you have to ‘show up!’
Perhaps it’s right when you step onto the stage or when you are about to present your creative ideas to a room packed with important people.
It’s that moment when you almost feel drunk on the cocktail of your emotions – a mix of fear and courage at the same time, flooding all that you are.
This mix of fear and courage can take you right to where you hope to be – that emotional space where your feelings blend just beautifully in a powerful mix, you flow into your performance.
As matter of fact, it feels so right that you are not scared anymore.
You don’t feel like you have to prove anything.
You just create or perform… your audience is moved by you.
In such genuine creative and performing moments, fear and courage become one, dancing together in harmony.
Fear and courage coexist in a intimate relationship, working together toward helping you accomplish your goals, hopes, dreams…
They help you face challenging situations like auditions, presenting your script, or stepping onto the stage.
The intimate relationship between fear and courage
In these moments of ‘showing up,’ you need your fear to ignite your courage and you need your courage to face your fears.
Fear and courage are like yin and yang – complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.
They need one another to exist. Their dynamic interaction helps you to face the world, grow, and change.
Every time you face a challenging moment – an audition, a new show, presenting your creative ideas – and you succeed, you develop this internal knowing about how to face a challenge.
See much more in her article
Competing with others can be self-limiting
Actors – like anyone else – may measure self worth and confidence by comparing themselves to the lives of celebrities.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein notes in her article Practical Steps to Enchantment: Improving Your Self Esteem that we “can end up feeling that if we are not part of the rich and famous, our lives are insignificant.
“Our society also sends a message of competition and achievement.
“The result often is that we are taught to see how well we are doing, in terms of how pretty we are, how bright we are, what kind of house we have, what rewards we receive.”
But, she adds, “these are external measures. Each of us needs to develop a sense of self-worth, a capacity for positive self-regard that comes from within.”
Self-critical in spite of success
Even gaining success and acclaim as an artist may not insure against feeling you are “less than.”
Kate Winslet, for example has admitted that before going off to a movie shoot, she sometimes thinks,
“I’m a fraud, and they’re going to fire me… I’m fat; I’m ugly.”
[Also quoted in my article Actors and self esteem.]
Positive self-regard can be nurtured with awareness of what helps you feel it more, and what actions you can take to gain more confidence.
And there are a number of self-help programs to enhance confidence – see list of