I have an acquaintance whose infant son has landed his first dramatic role. He is two and a half, and will be playing one of the Three Wise Men in his nursery nativity play. The part calls for him to deliver the line “I have myrrh”.
He has been rehearsing with admirable diligence. It is, I think, a credit to his acting skills that, while one rarely, if ever, encounters myrrh in 21st century Britain, he gives a compelling performance and one truly believes that, yes, this small child does indeed have myrrh. And he has been able to inhabit fully the character of the Wise Man without having to ask the director “what’s my motivation?”. He comes to it naturally.
As Sir Laurence Olivier said to Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man, when the latter expressed surprise that Olivier did not employ “the Method”, “It’s called acting, dear boy”.