Read through these insightful acting quotes and scroll to the bottom and share which quote was your favorite.
Acting is an activity in which people tell a story by adopting the personality and life of a character.
This can be done through theatre, television, film, radio, or any other medium that allows for imitation. Many famous actors share their thoughts on just what acting is in these acting quotes.
Acting is a profession or talent that involves a variety of skills, including active imagination, emotional understanding, and the ability to interpret drama.
It also requires the actor to master physical expressivity, vocal projection, and clarity of speech.
An actor must also connect with the audience, and make them believe they are “meeting” the character and not the actor.
Some people are naturally talented actors, but the vast majority of professional actors have undergone extensive training. This training includes things like mastering different dialects, accents, and even mime.
Actors also learn how to do improv, observe and emulate, and move around the stage. Many of these acting quotes express the job requirements for being an excellent actor.
Keep reading to learn more fun facts about acting, and even words you can use to describe “a good actor.”
Acting quotes from famous actors
1. “I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” — Meryl Streep
2. “All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today, in any scene.” — Meryl Streep
3. “I need to go where people are serious about acting.” — Meryl Streep
4. “With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise, it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” — Johnny Depp
5. “Just let the wardrobe do the acting.” — Jack Nicholson
6. “One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people’s lives without having to pay the price.” — Robert De Niro
7. “Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It’s a bum’s life. Quitting acting, that’s the sign of maturity.” — Marlon Brando
8. “It’s got to do with putting yourself in other people’s shoes and seeing how far you can come to truly understand them. I like the empathy that comes from acting.” — Christian Bale
9. “Comedy is acting out optimism.” — Robin Williams
10. “Acting is like lying. The art of lying well. I’m paid to tell elaborate lies.” — Mel Gibson
‘Acting is’ quotes about what acting means to people
11. “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” — Sanford Meisner
12. “Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.” — Rosalind Russell
13. “Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” — George Burns
14. “Acting is magical. Change your look and your attitude, and you can be anyone.” — Alicia Witt
15. “Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found.” — Claire Danes
16. “Acting is reacting. You can’t react if you’re not paying attention if you’re not listening.” — Reid Scott
17. “Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on.” — River Phoenix
18. “Acting is not about being famous, it’s about exploring the human soul.” — Annette Bening
19. “Good acting—real acting, is impossible to spot. Do you ever catch talents like Robert Duvall or Kathy Bates acting? No. I defy you to show me where.” — William Esper
20. “Acting is a way of living out one’s insanity.” — Isabelle Huppert
Short acting quotes
21. “An actor is a fool for God.” — Gerardine Clark
22. “Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation.” — Bette Davis
23. “Stop explaining yourself. Shut up and act!” — Craig MacDonald
24. “An actor has to burn inside with an outer ease.” — Michael Chekhov
25. “Creating relationships is the heart of acting. It is basic. It is essential.” — Michael Shurtleff
26. “I love acting. It is so much more real than life.” — Oscar Wilde
27. “The first step to a better audition is to give up character and use yourself.” — Michael Shurtleff
28. “Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” — Constantin Stanislavski
29. “The best acting is instinctive. It’s not intellectual, it’s not mechanical, it’s instinctive.” — Craig MacDonald
30. “The theater has never been any good since the actors became gentlemen.” — W.H. Auden
Funny and inspirational acting quotes
31. “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” — Meryl Streep
32. “Actors die so loud.” — Henry Miller
33. “Acting is not rocket science, but it is an art form. What you are doing is illuminating humanity. Or not.” — Viola Davis
34. “That’s what makes acting so attractive. You get to break all your own rules.” — Gerardine Clark
35. “I’m a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I’ve any talent is beside the point.” — Michael Caine
36. “Show me a great actor and I’ll show you a lousy husband. Show me a great actress, and you’ve seen the devil.” — W. C. Fields
37. “Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.” — Bette Davis
38. “If I wasn’t an actor, I’d be a secret agent.” — Thornton Wilder
39. “Acting in theatre or television or screen is only for the irrecoverably diseased, those so smitten with the need that there is no choice.” — Michael Shurtleff
40. “There’s nothing more boring than unintelligent actors because all they have to talk about is themselves and acting. There have to be other things.” — Tim Robbins
Acting quotes about the job of an actor and how acting is work
41. “The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.” — Stella Adler
42. “If you really do want to be an actor who can satisfy himself and his audience, you need to be vulnerable.” — Jack Lemmon
43. “Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.” — Michael Shurtleff
44. “Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.” — George Bernard Shaw
45. “It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.” — Harry Stack Sullivan
46. “I always thought acting was all lights, camera, action. It’s a job; you have to do your job correctly.” — Corey Haim
47. “Money was always on my mind when I was growing up. So I was always wondering how we were going to afford this and that. Acting seemed to be a shortcut out of the mess.” — Leonardo DiCaprio
48. “Acting is a freelance career… you never stop having to prove yourself and fight for work.” — Miranda Otto
49. “My dad was really complex, and I was raised by that. My mom is really bright – very book bright – and so those things collide… I learned that I could put all of that stuff together in the world of acting, and I could make a dollar at it.” — Omari Hardwick
50. “I may not have made humongous sums of money through acting, but I have enough to lead a stress-free life.” — Sowcar Janaki
Just how old is the profession of acting? Well, one of the first known actors was an ancient Greek called Thespis of Icaria in Athens. The story, as written by Aristotle, goes that Thespis stepped out of the chorus that was narrating a story, and spoke as if he was the character. Thespis’ name might remind you of a common term for actors—thespians!
You might wonder if there is some special way you can tell someone that they are a “good actor.” I mean, sure, you could say they were magnificent or brilliant, but you can actually use words that compliment their craft. So next time you are at a school play, local theater event, or if you have the chance to talk to a famous actor, you could say things like:
- That was such an effective and realistic performance!
- You told such an imaginative and artistic story!
- I loved the empathy and emotion you brought to the role.
Who do you think is the best actor of all time and why? Let us know in the comments below.