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Interviews as Performance

by Buckle Nagle

In Tim Griffin’s “Method Acting: The Artist-Interviewer Conversation,” Griffin theorizes that  an artist’s persona is inextricably linked to how his or her work is interpreted, and thus artists employ a kind of Method acting to convince themselves of the validity of a false persona that complements their work.  In this sense “[the script] is obviously the artist’s own histories: all their previous projects, all their previous interviews, all the other artists who inspire them or provide useful comparisons. An artist’s work or apparently singular gesture here is, in effect, always a citation of itself.” Although these ideas directly correlated to the question of an actor’s identity, the person-texts Griffin examines are fine artists, not actors.

I was convinced that the actor’s dual role as both artist and work would change Griffin’s paradigm, and I resolved to discover the difference with his methodology of comparing and analyzing interviews by the same subject over time.  Initially I was hesitant to engage with a star such as Heath Ledger, whose early death colored his short career and awkward interviews with the same sort of macabre voyeurism that sustains the paparazzi and normalizes celebrity harassment.  In seeking to discuss interview as performance it was important to do so using as unambiguous gestures as possible, and for that Heath Ledger was obviously the right choice.  After viewing hours of interviews from many celebrities, I found no other star changed so dramatically and visibly.  Although I do not expressly ignore the events which followed these interviews, I attempted to present them in a way that neither glamourizes nor ignores the context.

Although the video raised question in our class about the objectification of celebrities and the use of human beings as commodities for sales, ultimately this project is only intended to lend credence to the critical analysis of interview footage as another type of performance. Bearing this in mind, I believe this essay successfully reveals the performative, gestural quality of interviews and builds a case for the study of interviews within the context of critical film studies.

Works Cited

Carman, Collin. "Heath Ledger and the Idolatry of Dying Young." Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 15.3 (2008): 28. EBSCOhost. Web. 11 May 2013.

Drake, Philip. "Reconceptualizing Film Performance." Journal of Film and Video 58.1/2 (58): 84-94. JSTOR. Web. 11 May 2014.

Goffman, Erving. “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959. Print.

Griffin, Tim. "Method Acting: The Artist-Interviewer Conversation." Art Journal 64.3 (2005): 70-83.

Naremore, James. “Acting in the Cinema.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. Print.



(In Order of Appearance)

Simmel-Meservey “Dinner Party.” (1945):

Young America Films Inc. “The Outsider.” (1951):

Fox News “Georgia Runs Out of Food Stamps.” (2012):

Davis, Bette. “The Wogan Show.” (1987):

Chris Christie and Barbara Buono. “New Jersey Gubernatorial Debate.” (2013):

Streep, Meryl. “The Making of Kramer vs. Kramer.” (2001):

“Hazel Bishop Longer Lasting Lipstick.” (1956):

Ledger, Heath. “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday!” (1999):

Ledger, Heath. “Sunrise.” (2005):

Ledger, Heath. “Heath Ledger Protects Michelle Williams from Paparazzi.”(2004):

Williams, Michelle “Michelle Williams and Matilda Ledger Shopping at Crewcut NYC.”(2013):

Ledger, Heath. “Ellen Season 3 Episode 105.” (2006):

Ledger, Heath. “RTL TV at the Venice Film Festival.” (2007):

The Art of the Interview

A video essay exploring Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life" as it applies to the system of celebrity interviews.

from various. See commentary. (2014)
Posted by Buckle Nagle