Here's the full synopsis:
"Pennies" is the story of Charlotte Brown (Amy Adams), a waitress and young single mother who will do anything for her daughter Jenny,and when push comes to shove, she does. With a menacing figure on the other end of the phone and a time limit of two hours,she must raise enough money to ensure that she sees the smiling face of her child again. Charlotte's customers are her only hope. The clock is ticking as we see the desperate young mother dealing with one eccentric customer after the next,displaying her charming vulnerability and inspiring strength through all the chaos. With her feet firmly planted on the ground, Charlotte maintains her focus and attempts to beat the clock and save the day.
So, as you know from studying with me, my technique is really about getting rid of the idea of substitutions and having to use tragedy from your own life to get to an emotion. And also refuting the idea you have to be a bad person, bad boy, bad girl, or go through heinous tragedies in order to be an artist, which I think is bull.
Well, I’ll talk about how before I came to coach with you I had a huge hurdle, in that in my own life I felt very powerless. I didn’t have a voice. And so in my acting I had a really hard time getting to a true emotional place, because it was too threatening. It was too dangerous to go somewhere as a character that I felt I personally couldn’t come back from.
So, a good friend and relative, Eddie, [LAUGHS] suggested I come to his class with you. I was always very resistant to classes, because I didn’t want some teacher to use whatever pain I have gone through to get me to that dark place. When I tried to access my own personal pain I froze up because that’s how I deal with trauma - I become blocked, even as a human being. So, I tried to do that with my acting, anytime I've tried to cry in a role by thinking about something that has happened to me personally, I froze.
Anytime I tried to scream by thinking about times I've been angry, I was paralyzed. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t even really say the lines. So, when I came to you and I learned this technique of creating a life for your character, I felt like I became the instrument for the character, rather than the entire song. And I was able to use myself more like an instrument as opposed to the whole orchestra.
What a great analogy.
And, you know, I was able to find my voice and to find tears and to find levels, because I was able to have a safe place to go, that I could come back from. With your technique, in character prep, when I visit a character’s life, her past and create some event, good or tragic, that belongs to her. I don’t take ownership of that pain with me. I don’t take it on as my own.
So, when I return from their life at the end of the day or the end of the scene, I am in a healthy place, as opposed to feeling as though I have gone through something horrible as myself. So, this allows me not to be scared to go there, which allows me freedom as an actress to do anything, because I don’t own it, it belongs to my character.