Orson Welles on the Art of Acting: ‘There is a Villain in Each of Us’

An actor, said Orson Welles, cre­ates a truth­ful per­for­mance by look­ing into his or her own char­ac­ter and selec­tive­ly tak­ing things away. “There is a vil­lain in each of us, a mur­der­er in each of us, a fas­cist in each of us, a saint in each of us, and the actor is the man or woman who can elim­i­nate from him­self those things which will inter­fere with that truth.” The com­ments are from a pub­lic talk Welles gave late in his life, and are pre­served in this scene from the 1995 doc­u­men­tary by Vas­sili Silovic and Oja Kodar, Orson Welles: The One-Man Band.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orson Welles Explains Why Igno­rance Was the Genius Behind Cit­i­zen Kane

Orson Welles’ Last Inter­view and Final Moments Cap­tured on Film

Orson Welles Nar­rates Plato’s Cave Alle­go­ry, Kafka’s Para­ble, and Free­dom Riv­er

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  • actors says:

    Schools and instruc­tors spend a great deal of time focus­ing on per­form­ing. This is what brings stu­dents into class­es and work­shops and soon it becomes addic­tive. Being able to per­form and receive acco­lades is the drug of choice, one that is wide­ly exploit­ed by the teach­ing com­mu­ni­ty. It’s what keeps stu­dents enrolled and brings them back for anoth­er fix again and again.

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