Whishaw upon Whishaw
An Exploration Through the Heart of an Artist
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
The Hollow Crown: Richard II
In Bright Star, Whishaw, as John Keats, states, "if poetry does not come a naturally as leaves on a tree, then it had better not come at all." This quote speaks volumes when analyzing the work of Ben Whishaw. A true artist of his craft, Ben Whishaw finds the beautiful lyricism of each of his characters and exudes their souls with uncompromising passion. For Whishaw, the poetry of acting comes as naturally as leaves to a tree; he effortlessly captures the art of acting and finds a beauty within every character.
I subtitled this month's collection "An Exploration Through the Heart of an Artist" because that is exactly what you get when you watch Ben Whishaw. He treats his role as an actor as more than just a translation of a character from the page to the audience. Rather, he captures the intangible essence of each character and lets them consumer his person. His heart and body become a vessel for which these characters are able to tell their story. In each performance, Whishaw gives a pure and raw display of emotion - he bares his soul and expresses his heart's content. Witnessing Ben Whishaw at work is like witnessing a painter at his canvas - he's gentle and thoughtful and capable of moving you so strongly with the power of his art.
I often refer to Whishaw as the "romantic actor." Much like the words John Keats, Whishaw's performances evoke this longing for a sense of melancholy. He is able to find the beauty and tragedy of life in just a simple glance. He captures the weight of the world, but also the loveliness of the world in his work. His performances play out like a poem; you are engulfed in this world of expressive longing. You garner a sense of familiarity from his work and yearn for a return to the quiet stillness of these character's world.
It's interesting to compare Whishaw's work to that of his colleagues. When Whishaw gives a performance, it's almost like it's an extension of himself, like his whole soul, his whole existence is captured in this character. Whereas a lot of other actors appear to have only a mask of their characters on - that the character is only surface deep. Whishaw's performance captures you because you believe him; you believe that he is John Keats or that he truly is losing the throne to a Tudor. It's rare to find an actor that is able to transcend the boundaries of his being and completely embrace the character as fully and as freely and as fully as Ben Whishaw does.
The work of Ben Whishaw illustrates to true and dedicated the heart of an artist. His unflinching dedication to his craft has created a body of work that is soul-baring, tragic, and beautiful. His work is a wonderful testament to the power of the craft and the influence an artist can have over your heart.
Part I of Whishaw upon Whishaw | The Film Club
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Red Carpet Interviews
Toronto International Film Festival 2022
Film East Chats Podcast on BBC Radio Norfolk
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