Ok, here is a simple clip from Paul Thomas Antherson’s “Hard Eight”:

This was quite a film in where the perfomances really impressed me. If you have the chance I’d study it, especially Philip Baker Hall’s performance which is a very subtle performance overall, with so much going on. But the part that I wanted to discuss was this simple line that Gwineth Paltrow delivers. The line is very simple:

“John, I’m going to tell you something right now”

This scripted line is quite simple.
There is: What she’s saying (external). What she’s meaning or feeling (internal).
What was great about this clip was that there is a clear major difference from both her internal and external dialogue.

The external dialogue (the lines our charaters have to deliver) we are not so much in control. The scriptwriter/director are. The internal dialogue (internal acting/thought process) on the other hand, we as animators, are in control.

So while the line sounds pretty simple, I noticed a few things:

-First, the lip anticipation right before she says “John…[…]”. Already that lip licking action, is anticipating the intensity of her delivery. Sometimes, it’s subtle anticipations that will set the tone of an entire dialogue delivery more effectively. (Now, this I’ve personally learned to experience is difficult not only to do, but to pull it off).

-The head move when she says the word “John” is a subtle one…but it’s almost as if the subtext of that head move is saying “Here we go again”. Also, notice the eyes go look up a little later. Leading with the eyes in this case would of meant something slightly different. Instead, the eyes followed later, giving a different meaning to her delivery of the word John.

-The portion where she says “[…]…I’m going to tell you something…[…]”, feels to me like it’s a expression/lypsinc delivery getting ready to the next more intense portion. Sometimes stuff like this creates and gives more texture to an entire delivery. Just like in a story, any dialogue delivery can have a progression…it’s up to us what kind of progression will it be and what sort of texture the acting will have.

-“[…]…Right now!!!”. This is obviously, visually this is the climax of the delivery. This is why this example to me was very eye opening. We can say a simple word, in a million different ways. We can say the word “Hello”, in a sad way, upset way, happy way, nostalgic way, on and on. In this case, the intensity of her face here, the internal meaning to the word “Right now”, and all the emotions/feelings surfacing added a new level to her performance. It was even more intense than when she says “this man owes me” afterwards. So for me, this was a really great example when I watched the movie of how powerful subtext and internal dialogue is.