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Creative Acting and Intuition

Many talented and accomplished actors consider intuition an important part of developing their creativity and power as an artist.

Director Jane Campion commented about Abbie Cornish, one of the lead actors in her movie “Bright Star”: “She has to be very true to her instincts, she doesn’t know how to betray them; it would be a little death to do so.

“She is weirdly strong, gracious, intuitive and bold and fabulously stubborn at times.”

[From Jane Campion’s ‘Bright Star’ poetry, by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2009. Photo: Ben Whishaw as poet John Keats, Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne.]

Natalie Portman said about doing a nude scene in the movie “Hotel Chevalier” (2007): “I’m really sorry I didn’t listen to my intuition. From now on, I’m going to trust my gut more. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is say no.”

“What separates actors from nonactors is their ability to understand intuitively what a scene is about and then be able to connect it to what’s inside themselves to bring the material to life,” notes Howard Fine, a teacher and acting coach to Brad Pitt, Kim Delaney and Sela Ward among others. “Not everyone can do that.”

Actor Billy Bob Thornton has commented, “The idea behind acting these days is to strive to be real, to be yourself.”

[From article Whatever Works Best, by Christopher Grove, Variety.]

Being authentic is of value and importance for anyone, of course, but perhaps especially for creative people who perform as actors, who portray real human emotions.

Commenting about the book Practical Intuition, Demi Moore said the author Laura Day “has taught me to believe in myself and my own intuition. By creating a practical format like the one in this book, she teaches everyone to see how intuition works on all levels of our lives.”

Kim Basinger has commented, “I feel there are two people inside me – me and my intuition. If I go against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.”

And Rachel Weisz thinks, “You have to stop thinking too much and just use your heart and your gut and your instincts [when acting]. Any intellect just gets in the way. You just have to go with the feeling and not over-analyze.”

That perspective is also emphasized by Jennifer Lehman, a film acting teacher, consultant, and scriptwriter. In our interview On Awareness and Creative Expression, she says, “You need to move away from your ego to stay in a creative state.

“Anytime you’re shifting the focus back to yourself, you’re shutting down creative potential. It’s difficult to achieve a consistent openness, letting things flow through you, without your own judgments, your own personal history, or how you think it should be, interfering with that. Our thinking mind is different than our feeling mind, and if we start thinking, we shut down creative expression – for actors, anyway.”

I don’t agree it is that absolute – we can and do use our intellect and cerebral cortex in creating – but intuition can be a powerful ally.


Creative Acting and Intuition

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2011). Creative Acting and Intuition. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Jan 2011
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