Harry Dean Stanton – compelling authenticity
“I play myself all the time… on camera and off. What else can I do?”
Harry Dean Stanton [photo and quote from the HBO.com section for “Big Love”]
Nicolas Cage thinks “Harry Dean exudes a spiritual awareness that’s steeped in deep sadness, and it’s so compelling to watch on film. He’s a compelling man to be around as well because he defies a lot of laws.” [Entertainment Weekly, June 2 2006]
In the same article, Rebecca De Mornay comments that Stanton has “complete honesty and authenticity every minute” and is “such the real thing. He just is who he is.”
And maybe that authenticity is one of the key sources of charisma.
Be who you are
Amanda Peet has said of acting:
“But really the key is to be relaxed… you have to be who you are and you have to go with your own instincts. You really have nothing else as an actor, but to commit to who you are.
“If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. If you try to exude some star quality or charisma, it’s probably not going to get you very far.”
But according to an article (“Charm, graciousness – and attitude.” By Janet Cromley, Los Angeles Times May 29, 2006), there are aspects that can be developed.
Tony Alessandra, author of more than a dozen books on sales and personality, thinks charisma is generally inherent, but that it’s also infinitely teachable.
“Many people have developed it,” he says. “Just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Foreman. Did they have charisma when they were younger? Nope. And look at the late Princess Diana. They used to call her ‘Shy Di.’ “
The article goes on: “The first step in boosting your charisma quotient, say media coaches and matchmakers, is to adopt certain behaviors, such as demonstrating enthusiasm and optimism, maintaining eye contact, speaking with authority, standing erect with shoulders back but muscles relaxed and mirroring body language.”
Charisma and caring
But true charisma, the article notes, starts from within, based on certain attitudes.
“Charisma begins with what I call ‘graciousness,’ “ says Jackson Bain, who has taught media skills to executives and politicians for more than 20 years. This means listening carefully and focusing one’s attention on what others are saying.
“This isn’t acting,” he says. “This is changing your attitude toward the world around you and the humans around you. You need to begin by asking yourself, ‘How much do I really care about these people I’m with?’ “
Related book: Charisma : Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success, by Tony Alessandra.