“I always tried to treat my players fairly. That doesn’t mean I treated them all the same.” -Phil Jackson
I was a younger actor and cast in a really difficult play and part. I was having a recurring confidence crisis about it.
The director was wonderful. He believed in me to cast me in the role even when I didn’t believe in myself. He had worked patiently and diligently with me all throughout the rehearsal process. When I pulled him aside yet again, one evening, (we were getting close to opening night) and said I didn’t know if I could do the part, he responded very matter of fact this time: “That’s fine. Get off the stage. Make room for someone who knows they can do it and wants to go on.”
Now that might seem harsh. But it wasn’t. It motivated me. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And the director knew that because he really knew me. Knew what buttons to push and when. That was the right one. For me. In that specific moment. Another actor, he might never have said those words to. Because it wouldn’t have worked. Wouldn’t have been the right approach.
The best directors are like the best coaches. They care about and get to know their artists on a human level, what takes them tick. And they’ll do whatever it takes to get everyone’s best work. Because deep down, we all want that.
In case you were wondering…I did continue in that play and never looked back. I think it was some of the best work I’ve ever done.