Of passage at the festival of Deauville to present the film Killer Joe, William Friedkin took the opportunity to give a masterclass on his craft of filmmaking and his career. One of the highlights was when he approached the notion of direction of actors and his personal methods. They have allowed him to get the best out of a teenage girl and a debutante like Linda Blair on the set of the exorcist but have also been a source of tensions with Al Pacino.
To get the best part of his young actress Linda Blair, William Friedkin did not hesitate to push it to its limits. Thus, for him to express sadness to the screen, it has encouraged her to rethink the death of his grandfather. It is actually a technique fairly standard used by the experienced actors. Go look in his own past emotions to convey on screen. Lacking experience, the young Linda Blair has benefited from the knowledge of William Friedkin to apply the methods of the best.
Even more extreme, and always on the filming of The exorcist, William Friedkin did not hesitate to shoot a gun by taking full to scare the actress Ellen Burstyn, who should express the surprise in the face of a phone ringing. He has also reproduced this method several times in the course of his career.
In another register, and this time with experienced actors, William Friedkin, don’t hesitate to whispering them, just before taking the words “surprise me” (surprise me). The goal is to push the actor to offer something more than what is expected. This can lead to nothing but also offer variations particularly interesting.
William Friedkin also insisted on the fact that the direction of actors also depends on a lot of the actors that he has in front of him. On the filming of the Hunted, the director had to direct two actors extremely different from one another. Tommy Lee Jones is a instinctive which does not require that once the gestures and the movements that he needs to do. On the contrary, Benicio Del Toro is going to ask plenty of questions about his character, the reasons for which he is seated in such a way and not another… A good director is also a director of player that can adapt to the various actors with which it rotates.
And in fact, William Friedkin has no known relationships idyllic with the actors of his films. Al pacino, main performer of the movie The fighter, was very disappointed to discover in the course of the first projection ambiguity of his character, potential assassin, he would have played differently if he had known. But William Friedkin did not know himself that he would do that before mounting, and do not even know today whether the character is one of the killers. This different would have been the source of many conflicts between the actor and the director.