Transformation is the only way to describe how Tom Todoroff affects his acting students.
As acting coach to the stars, Todoroff has a wealth of experience, having coached Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rene Russo, Heather Locklear and Richard Gere.
Todoroff held an acting workshop for the UAE's aspiring actors in Dubai recently.
Participants were required to prepare a piece and then present it on stage to the rest of the group.
“All art has a passionate, personal point of view. If you don't have this view, it's because you're scared of being wrong," Todoroff said, “Acting is believing, 100 per cent."
Chemistry between actors, he continued, is vitally important, using the example of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's 1999 movie Eyes Wide Shut.
“In real life they were married, but they didn't have any chemistry on-screen; and then, what do you know, shortly after that they split up. I'm not a big fan of J Lo, but in Out of Sight [with George Clooney] they were believable, because of the chemistry. I don't think she'll be that good again."
Vocal variation (not having a monotone voice) he continued, is also extremely important.
“I saw a Morgan Freeman play, and I was eight feet away from him, and I was bored. This is not good vocal variation."
Talent, Todoroff says, is how much you want it; by how much you want a part. “No-one casts you, you cast yourself. You have to say: ‘I dare you not to cast me'."
Wanting to be cast in a part is the main aspect of being chosen, he continued, while looks and beauty don't really make a truly talented actor.
“Have you got a funny looking friend that always has a gorgeous girlfriend? That's because he believes he can. This relates to acting — it's not the best-looking or most talented that get the parts; it's those who want it the most. Talent is how much you want it. Danny Devito is a funny looking guy, but he's really a good actor.
People think it's all about what you look like, when you think about it, how many gorgeous women and handsome, handsome guys are really good actors? It's a short list.
Actually great actors, in my era, for example Dustin Hoffman, he's not pretty, neither is Gene Hackman and Meryl Streep is handsome-looking, but you don't go ‘wow, she's hot'," he said.
“Like Glenn Close and Holly Hunter you never thought ‘what a hottie', you just think they have something, and that's why in their '50s and '60s they're still working. Pretty can be the most boring thing in the world," he said.
Todoroff evidently enjoys his work, and has said that there are at least a dozen talented actors that he's spotted in Dubai who could make it to the big-time.
True actors, he says, have a theatrical background. He admires actors such as Michael Caine and Sir Anthony Hopkins, while some movie actors, he says, don't really have what it takes.
"Michael Caine is always good, because he knows his work. Even if it's a bad film, he is always good. Bad actors don't have the skill-set to perform. Tom Cruise has a very, very small skill-set. I guarantee that if you put Tom Cruise up here on stage, he wouldn't deliver."
"I've seen Cate Blanchett on stage and she was brilliant. She was even better than on film, because she's a real actor: not a product of the media".
“Julia Roberts got bad reviews on stage, because people said she didn't know what to do with her hands and you couldn't hear her voice. With actors in TV shows, 95 per cent fail, because they don't have a theatrical background," he said.
Aside from Michael Caine, Cate Blanchett and Sir Anthony Hopkins, Todoroff also admires Russell Crowe. “He's a really good actor. That guy was in Gladiator it should have been a really silly movie, but he turned it into a piece of art. I watched it 10 times and thought ‘this should be terrible'. But, if you look at Brad Pitt and Colin Farrell do the same thing in Troy, they're embarrassing."
Todoroff: line by line
“The film career of Paris Hilton isn't going to last very long, no matter how well-heeled her family is, because we won't go and see them."
A student at the workshop chimes in: “Paris Hilton doesn't want to be an actress." “No," says Todoroff. “Because she doesn't respect acting."
“I taught Kiefer Sutherland when he was a kid. The first series of 24 was great. If you watch it spaced out then you believe it, but if you watch the box set it seems unbelievable. I stayed up to watch it – if you do that, even though you're really tired, it's good storytelling."
“Angelina Jolie's whole career is about turning people on. The head, heart and hips are the major core of someone – when a film touches all of these, it's a good one."
Michael Caine is always good even in a bad film “as he knows his work" says Todoroff. According to him, Cate Blanchett is a real actor and “not a product of the media."
Tom Todoroff says while Tom Cruise has “a very, very small skill-set," Julia Roberts “doesn't know what to do with her hands" on stage.
Don't miss it!
Todoroff's workshop will be back in Dubai from November 6-8 . For more information, go to: www.tomtodoroff.com