Religion is belief in a higher
power, one which is believed to have created our existence. It can be said to
be the gravity that pulls people and societies together. The diverse religions
such as Christianity and Islam form the structure of many people’s lives. These
religions are also thought to help construct meaning, aid ethnical guidance and
a sense of belonging.

 

One will seek to explore both the
world of acting and religion in order to determine whether an actor can become
successful whilst remaining devoted to a faith.

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Firstly, I will discuss the
different religions such as Christianity and Islam and how one is recognized to
be a supporter of that belief. Through this research, I will then exploit
actors who follow a faith in comparison to actors who have no faith, and
identify their success. Secondly, I will talk about the different acting
methods such as Stanislavski, and actors that use these techniques to develop
their acting skills. I will also explore how today’s society has developed
increasing demands for an actor. This will lead me to my third point of
discussion; what makes a successful actor?

 

Through research, a development
of knowledge in the press and the public involvement is key to understanding
the success of an actor. I will study existing successful actors who obtain a
faith including, Tom Cruise, Kirk Cameron and Natalie Portman.

 

In cognition to the previous
statement, one can embrace the importance of the ‘idol’ status an actor will
achieve through success, and the possible complications it can lead to.

Furthermore, one can question if there is a way to balance faith and success within
this industry or alternatively, does the actor need to go against their
religion for the sake of fame?

 

There are complications that a
religious actor may face when choosing a certain role, in particular, when
faced with a sexual scenario. Further discussion revolving sexual orientation
will become relevant due to the rising popularly of LGBT trends in theatre as
demonstrated in shows such as ‘Kinky Boots’. The dilemma of tradition versus
modern society can be assessed in order to determine whether religious practice
is becoming outdated by acting requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1:  Religions

 

There is no
simple definition of the concept of religion that fully articulates all its
dimensions. Encompassing spiritual, personal, and social elements, this
phenomenon is however, ubiquitous, appearing in every culture, from prehistory
to the modern day as evidenced in the cave paintings and elaborate burial
customs of our distant ancestors, and the continuing quest for spiritual goal
to life. Religion provided a way of understanding and influencing powerful
natural phenomena. Weather and the seasons, creation, life, death and the
afterlife, and the structure of the cosmos were all subjects to religious
explanations that invoked controlling gods, or a realm outside the visible,
inhabited by deities and mythical creatures. Religion provided a means to
communicate with these gods, through ritual and prayer and these practises when
shared by members of a community helped to cement social groups enforce
hierarchies and provide a deep sense of collective identity. As societies became
more complex, their belief systems grew with them and religion was increasingly
deployed as a political tool. Military conquests were often followed by the
assimilation of the pantheon of the defeated people by victors; the kingdoms
and empires were often supported by deities and priestly classes.

 

The challenges
to faith: Faced with the negative aspects of religious belief and equipped with
the tools of humanist philosophy and science, a number of thinkers have questioned
the very validity of religion. There were, they argued, logical and consistent
cosmologies based on reason rather than faith. I effect, religions had become
irrelevant in the modern world. New philosophies, such as Marxism -Leninism
considered religions to be a negative force on human development, and, as a
result, there arose Communist states that were explicitly atheistic and
anti-religious.

 

“In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over
the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Holy Bible,
(2008)

 

 

Christianity
takes its name from the Greek word ‘christós’ a translation of the Hebrew word
for “messiah”, or anointed one. This title was given to Jesus by a Jewish sect
who considered him to be the Messiah, the saviour prophesied in the Tanakh, the
Hebrew Bible, and the ‘Son of God’ in a human form. Christians believe that
Jesus’s arrival on earth heralded a ‘New Covenant’ or New Testament with God
that followed the Old Testament covenants between God and the Jewish people.

The main beliefs of Christianity are based on the life and teachings of Jesus
as recorded by his followers in the 1st Century in the gospels
(meaning “good news”) and the Epistles (or letters) of the New Testament.

 

Founded in
the 7th Century, Islam is nevertheless regarded by its followers as
an ancient faith, one that has always existed as God’s intended religion. Along
with Judaism and Christianity, it is an Abrahamic religion, tracing its roots
back to Ibrahim (Abraham), the first of a line of prophets sent to reveal the
faith, a line that also includes Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus). Muslims believe
the last in this line is the Prophet Muhammad, who received the revelations
contained in the Qur’an and established Islam as it’s known today.

 

Islam is a
strong monotheistic religion, emphasizing the oneness of an incomparable God,
Allah (Arabic for “the God”), and people’s duty to serve him. Islam teaches
that human life is a gift from God, and the way a person lives their life will
be assessed on the Day of Judgment. The central professions of the faith are
summed up in the Five Pillars of Islam. Religious life revolves round the mosque,
which, as well as being centre of worship and teaching, acts as a focus for the
social life of the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – Actor
vs Faith

 

There is a
vast difference between a theatre that presents only classics such as Shakespeare’s
plays and TV shows that glorify sex and violence. Both are considered part of
the entertainment business and both involve actors and actresses, but the
impact on the performers and the audiences is quite different.

 

What does it
mean to be a Christian following an acting career path: a Christian who
practices their religion is a follower of ‘Jesus Christ’ who is the son of god
and believe “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in
them and they in God.” 1 John 4:15. It also states within the bible that sex
before marriage is a sin, this theme is constantly being portrayed within
movies, ultimately making it harder for an actor that is Christian to be successful
as this goes against their faith. Additionally, one may consider to obligate oneself
to take roles that resemble their belief; ultimately choosing to appear in movies
that show the beliefs of a Christian in a positive light, and this is one way
an actor can still stay passionate to their career without going against their
beliefs. The bible strongly enforces to “Flee from sexual immorality.” and that
“Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral
person sins against his own body.” 9.1 Corinthians 6:18-20. This determines how
far the individual can go within a role when acting greatly, as a Christian who
is devoted to their faith may face to choose less well-known roles in movies
subsequently decreasing their chances to greater success. An actor who takes
their practice seriously is said to realise “you are not your own, for you were
bought with a price. So glorify god in your body.” Furthermore, enforcing my
recent statement of the demands an actor has to their faith.

 

The issue of the lifestyle of performers in general must be a
consideration for a Christian. There is an enormous number of drugs, alcohol,
and immoral behaviour in the entertainment industry. Young people eager to get
the “big break” are often used and abused by those in power. While it may be
possible for a Christian to be in this world and not be affected by it, 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad
company corrupts good character.'” Thus, making it a harder and harsher reality
for a Christian to succeed in this industry. the impact performers have on
others must be considered. When unbelievers see professing Christians in
movies, TV shows, or live performances that promote ungodliness, they sense the
hypocrisy and are given cause to “blaspheme the name of God” Romans 2:24. There is also a detrimental effect on the
faith of other believers, especially young people and those immature in the
faith. Anytime a young believer can justify ungodliness by saying, “Well,
so-and-so does it and he’s a Christian,” the cause of Christ suffers, and the
young person is drawn away from truth into sin. Jesus spoke harshly of those
who cause “one of these little ones who believe in me to sin” Matthew 18:6.

 

Christians
considering a career in acting or performing must consider the bearing their
roles will have on themselves spiritually, the lifestyle into which they will
be entering, and the influence their performances will have on others:

 

In an interview
in New York called the ‘Today’ show, Kirk Cameron, a well-known Christian actor,
discussed his movie ‘Fireproof’ and how he overcame scenes when filming, which comprised
a sinful nature to his faith. He raises the statement “I have a commitment not
to kiss any other woman” which is interesting within my study. To see how he
overcame this obstacle he later explains within the interview, how his intimate
scenes were filmed with his real wife, Chelsea Noble. When the script called
for a kiss the filmmakers got around the conflict by shooting the scene in silhouette,
with his real-wife dressed as the actress playing the role of his wife. “So
when I’m kissing my wife, we’re actually husband and wife honouring marriage
behind the scenes” within this interview one can understand that his devotion
to his faith is strong, and that Cameron is not phased to question the director
about the script as his faith takes priority when introduced to characters that
provoke his religious beliefs. His acting started at 9 years old, this then
developed to his growth in acting to appear on a TV show called ‘Growing Pains’
at just 14 years of age. After he converted into a Christian, Cameron further discusses
in this interview, that he sometimes clashed with his cast members and
producers when the script strayed into what he felt were immoral territory. He
talks about how he only chooses movies that exemplifies his beliefs, and that ‘Fireproof
does just that, explaining “The reason this movie was important to me personally
is because I love my wide dearly,” and that ‘Marriage is a very special and
sacred thing to us. In a day and age where marriage is falling apart, we want
to make movies and projects that really uphold and have a high view of that which
is beautiful and wonderful in our culture.” Evidently Cameron proves that he
can still maintain the balance to keep his faith whilst proceeding to follow his
passion for acting. This is reassuring to any actor who has religious beliefs
that it is possible.

Celizic, (2008)

 

Although
Cameron has shown to successfully achieve a balance between his career and
faith; one may arise to question that the time of year that Cameron experienced
his clash with the producers. Has changed in comparison to the demands in today’s
industry. This is better established when comparing Kirk Cameron’s experience through
the knowledge of a modern actor’s episode with similar shared beliefs. Catholic
actor Neal McDonough chose to go against the executives when filming the series
‘Scoundrels’. 3 days into filming he was asked to shoot a sex scene with
actress Virginia Madsen, a demand that would make him go against his beliefs. However,
by refusing to cave into these circumstances his contract in the series was
terminated and replaced by David James Elliott who has no beliefs and agreed to
these terms. On a news show called ‘The Scoop’, they reveal McDonough always said
that “In the past he wouldn’t do love scenes” and “he’s a family man and a very
devout catholic and that it’s not appropriate for him to do that even if it is
just under the coat of acting” (YouTube, 2018). Thus, because McDonough stuck
to his morals to respect his faith it effected his future, decreasing his
chances to achieve success.

 

For the Christian actor, involvement in a movie that
glorifies sin or the devil’s work is clearly not an option. Because actors
struggle to find roles, they often take whatever parts come along, especially
when they are first starting out. For unbelieving actors, the decision to take
a part involves little more than the effect it will have on their careers and
future roles and the money involved. However, for the Christian, there is also
the problem of whether the role glorifies God or at least is not actually
glorifying rebellion against Him with violence or sex or other evils. Granted,
the big money is probably with the ungodly roles as we live in a world where
the devil has a huge influence on these matters, but the Christian actor should
not take parts which promote Satan’s agenda. The overriding principle involved
is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether
you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

 

 

Chapter 3

 

An actor, is
one who devotes their time and fully immerses themselves in order to create a
believable character; one which is in-cognition with how well they can convey their
emotion to form a sense of realism. It is important to understand the role of
the character, Stanislavski fabricated the dramatic technique ‘method acting’
to help achieve this. This technique involves the actor correlating their own
personal experiences, as closely as possible to that of the character.

Stanislavski states, ‘never allow yourself externally to portray anything that
you have not inwardly experienced’ Constantin Stanislavski, (2013). The acting
techniques designed by Stanislavski have changed the way actors research and
perform irrevocably. A more well-known example of the ‘Method Acting’ technique
is the well-established actor Heath Ledger, who took this method and applied
this to every role he was given, most famously the role of ‘The Joker’ in the
movie ‘The Dark Night’.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

The trend in
Hollywood of ‘sex’ is something that has been increasing throughout the years,
a popular by demand theme can be seen in nearly in every series, movie and sage
in modern society. Additionally, the development of the moto ‘everyone is
replaceable’ rings true to my study as an overriding issue for an actor who is
religious. A harsher industry fuelled by the populations hunger for more
passion and realistic environments to be produced, drawing out many religious
believers to turn away from a career in acting. Choosing a less conventional
career path is one way a religious individual like Kirk Cameron’s apocalyptic “Left
Behind” series, is one way to still stay tuned with one’s passion, however it
is undeniably evident through my research that it is hard to make a living.

 

One may
argue that today’s industry has become about money, and to live the ‘American dream’
and furthermore, has become blind to value talent. 

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