50 Great Acting Quotes to Inspire You

We've collected lots of acting quotes over the years, but these are the best. Every time we read them we become inspired and focused, and fall in love with the craft all over again. May they do the same for you.

What is Acting?

Acting quotes that define the art.

  1. Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
    - Sanford Meisner
  2. An actor is a fool for God.
    - Gerardine Clark
  3. Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation.
    - Bette Davis
  4. The best acting is instinctive. It's not intellectual, it's not mechanical, it's instinctive.
    - Craig MacDonald
  5. That's what makes acting so attractive. You get to break all your own rules.
    Gerardine Clark
  6. Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.
    - Bette Davis
  7. Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
    - Rosalind Russell
  8. Acting Quotes
  9. Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.
    - Meryl Streep
  10. Good acting -- real acting is impossible to spot. Do you ever catch talents like Robert Duvall or Kathy Bates acting? No. I defy you to show me where.
    - William Esper
  11. Stop explaining yourself. Shut up and act!
    - Craig MacDonald

  12. Practical Acting Quotes

    Acting quotes to remember when you're working.

  13. Find in yourself those human things which are universal.
    - Sanford Meisner
  14. The more personal, the more universal.
    - Gary Ballinger
  15. An actor has to burn inside with an outer ease.
    - Michael Chekhov
  16. Use what you know. Don't worry about what you don't know.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  17. The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.
    - Stella Adler
  18. An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.
    - Sanford Meisner
  19. Conflict is what creates drama. The more conflict actors find, the more interesting the performance.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  20. If you really do want to be an actor who can satisfy himself and his audience, you need to be vulnerable.
    - Jack Lemmon
  21. Creating relationship is the heart of acting. It is basic. It is essential.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  22. Listening is not merely hearing. Listening is reacting. Listening is being affected by what you hear. Listening is active.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  23. Whatever you decide is your motivation in the scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in it.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  24. Humor [in a scene] is not jokes. It is that attitude toward being alive without which you would long ago have jumped off the 59th Street Bridge.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  25. Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  26. The first step to a better audition is to give up character and use yourself.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  27. Competition [in a scene] is healthy. Competition is life. Yet most actors refuse to acknowledge this. They don't want to compete. They want to get along. And they are therefore not first-rate actors.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  28. Honesty isn't enough for me. That becomes very boring. If you can convince people what you're doing is real and it's also bigger than life -- that's exciting.
    - Gene Hackman
  29. Take nothing for granted. Make an emotional discovery as often as you can find one in every scene. Ask yourself: What is new?
    - Michael Shurtleff
  30. There's only one reason why a character drinks: to seek confrontation. To fight for what they want in ways normally denied them.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  31. My job is usually to express emotion as freely as possible.
    - Meryl Streep
  32. I'm curious about other people. That's the essence of my acting. I'm interested in what it would be like to be you.
    - Meryl Streep
  33. I think the most liberating thing I did early on was to free myself from any concern with my looks as they pertained to my work.
    - Meryl Streep
  34. I believe in imagination. I did Kramer vs. Kramer before I had children. But the mother I would be was already inside me.
    - Meryl Streep
  35. All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today, in any scene.
    - Meryl Streep
  36. The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part.
    - Miguel de Cervantes
  37. Actors think more with their hearts than with their heads.
    - William Esper

  38. Funny Acting Quotes

    Acting quotes to make you laugh.

  39. Show me a great actor and I'll show you a lousy husband. Show me a great actress, and you've seen the devil.
    - W. C. Fields
  40. Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
    - George Burns
  41. The theater has never been any good since the actors became gentlemen.
    - W.H. Auden
  42. Actors die so loud.
    - Henry Miller
  43. I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
    - Oscar Wilde
  44. If I wasn't an actor, I'd be a secret agent.
    - Thornton Wilder

  45. Even More Acting Quotes

  46. The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.
    - Stella Adler
  47. I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point.
    - Michael Caine
  48. Acting in theatre or television or screen is only for the irrecoverably diseased, those so smitten with the need that there is no choice.
    - Michael Shurtleff
  49. Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.
    - George Bernard Shaw
  50. There's nothing more boring than unintelligent actors, because all they have to talk about is themselves and acting. There have to be other things.
    - Tim Robbins
  51. Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
    - Stella Adler
  52. I think your self emerges more clearly over time.
    - Meryl Streep
  53. I need to go where people are serious about acting.
    - Meryl Streep
  54. The work will stand, no matter what.
    - Meryl Streep

There you have it: the acting quotes nearest and dearest to our hearts. Use them well.

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