When a person decides that he or she wants to be a doctor, he or she doesn’t just walk into a hospital and demand a job. Most jobs now require that people have the training and skills needed for the position. This type of training is no different for actors, because actors who have formal training typically do better in their careers. Some of the top celebrities in the world took acting classes and lessons from world-famous acting studios and coaches.
One of the most famous acting organizations is the Actors Studio in Manhattan. Elia Kazan, director of “East of Eden,” was one of the founding members. Numerous celebrities have studied at the studio, and many celebrities studied under Lee Strasberg. Those who watched “My Week With Marilyn” saw the character of Paula Strasberg. Paula worked directly with Marilyn Monroe as her personal coach. Monroe seldom worked on film sets without Paula or Lee by her side.
In its heyday, dozens of actors poured through the doors of the Actors Studio. Some of its famous students in the 1950s and 1960s included James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Marlon Brando, and Rip Torn. The Actors Studio still exists today, and some modern celebrities have taken acting lessons there, including Bradley Cooper, Melissa Leo, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, and Sean Penn.
Some actors prefer taking private lessons from coaches. Margie Haber uses a process called cold reading, which requires that actors read a script and get into the part without any preparation. Oscar winner Halle Berry took lessons from Haber. Heather Locklear and Brad Pitt are other celebrities that have used Haber in the past.
Larry Moss studied under several famous acting coaches and later opened his own studio. Former student Helen Hunt even mentioned him in her speech after she won the Academy Award. Hunt’s ex-husband Hank Azaria attended classes with Moss. Other students of Moss include Jim Carey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Clark Duncan, and Hilary Swank.
Kathy Bates and Timothy Olyphant are two students who studied under William Esper. Esper studied with Stanford Meisner, who was an early proponent of method acting. Method acting refers to the process that teaches actors to become different characters. The actors immerse themselves in different roles, helping the actors prepare for a new role. Meisner himself worked with some famous faces over the years, including Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Sandra Bullock, Grace Kelly, and Gregory Peck.
Stella Adler was an actress for a number of years before she became an acting coach. Her school, The Stella Adler Academy of Acting, teaches the method process of acting. Adler worked directly with a number of actors over the years, and a former student now runs the school. Celebrities who attended the program include Benecio Del Toro, Robert De Niro, Selma Hayek, and Mark Ruffalo.
While many famous actors take acting lessons, just as many do not have any formal training. One example of a celebrity who never took lessons is Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg got his start as one of the founding members of the boy band New Kids on the Block. After leaving the group, he launched his own music career. Wahlberg transitioned into an acting career with roles in “The Big Hit,” “Shooter,” “The Lovely Bones,” and “The Fighter” without taking a single lesson.
Shia LaBoeuf is another Hollywood success story who became popular without taking lessons. LaBoeuf took his acting career into his own hands, calling agents and pretending that he had a new talent for them named Shia LaBoeuf. One agent took a chance on the unknown actor, and he landed roles in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Disturbia,” and “Eagle Eye.”
There are even more actors who honed their skills on the small screen before finding stardom. Demi Moore auditioned for a role on a soap opera in the early 1980s. After just a year on the soap opera, she left to work in Hollywood. Ricky Martin, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Christopher Reeve, and Tommy Lee Jones are just a few of the other actors who starred on soap operas before launching their careers.
For some actors, television shows serve as formal training for an acting career. The actors learn the skills they need to transition into a career on the big screen. Other celebrities get their start on stage, starring in plays and musicals before launching a movie career. For every well-known actor who takes lessons, there is at least one actor who has no type of formal training. Some actors simply have talent that takes them farther than training could.