THE BLOG - Aug 01, 2016

Robert Peterpaul - Actor, writer & Found RPP

Anthony Abeson - Acting Coach to the Stars

“Do you intend to pay me?” he said smiling from a wooden chair in the center of the room.

Half-way out the door, I mulled the question over in my mind. The last hour had been so personal and effective that it seemed to surpass being something I could pay for. Its value was beyond monetary. Of course, I had to and wanted to. Anthony Abeson’s time is certainly worth every penny.

I found Mr. Abeson’s name while on the hunt for an acting coach. After being cast in a supporting role as a cop in the upcoming feature film Live to Tell I decided I needed some help. There was a common thread while talking with a few actor friends and completing numerous google searches - Anthony Abeson. His name kept coming up. And for good reason too.

For the last twenty-five years, Mr. Abeson has been an acting coach in New York City. He has a glittery list of students, including stars like Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy) and, most notably, Jennifer Aniston (see part of her love letter to him below).

“Anthony helps his actors find the honesty in every moment. So for any actor to just have a moment with Anthony or a class with him, or by luck, have his words to read and reread, one will be twice or three times the actor for it.” - Jennifer Aniston

After a few email exchanges (Anthony is a busy man) our appointment together was set for a Tuesday morning.

There’s a freudian charm to his Hell’s Kitchen workspace which has doubled as his living space since 1979. I walked up a flight of stairs to his apartment to find his head poking out at the end of the hall. “Come on in!” he said flashing a huge smile. I was a bit early, so I sat in his waiting area (a quaint kitchen) while he finished up with another student. I knew then that I was in the right place.

When my time came, an immediate trust blanketed the room. I sat in a chair across from him and watched as he studied the materials I told him I wanted to work on. We had a conversation about the text and within minutes dove into the work. He said all the things I needed to hear, even the ones I didn’t know I needed to hear, and appreciated everything I said to him. He didn’t just talk at me, but spoke to me and worked with me. After our session (and - for the record - paying, of course), I left not only feeling more comfortable, but fully knowing that Anthony Abeson must be a genius.

Upon asking Mr. Abeson why he is so dedicated to teaching actors, he told me (with the proviso that it’s quite possible you’d be able to glean a much more nuanced answer from sections of his book):

“I love teaching actors because, having been one myself for many years, I deeply understand them and am very alive to the many challenges they face in today’s culture. I regard them as an invaluable national resource whose full potential as runways of the human spirit is rarely realized by an industry often more interested in their looks, charm, et al. They are, as a tribe, sensitive and gentle, and therefore are often taken advantage of/abused. It moves me greatly to see them blossom, develop their talent and, thankfully, often do work that gets work on stage and screens. I love actors, period, because they’re open-hearted and still children in heart and soul, which is why they’re able to believe in imaginary things and react to them as if they’re real - this despite the many slings and arrows of the business, the city and the harsh economics of the pursuit of their dream. Their hurt has not made them hard. I was once on a SAG Foundation panel and was asked: ‘Why are you happy to be here?’ I replied: ‘I’m in the company of a magical race: the sons and daughters of magicians, shamans and sorcerers. How could I not be?’”

It’s clear that any actor who has the privilege of studying under this man has unearthed a little bit of gold. His heart and mind are fully accessible and open to you from the moment you meet. Not to mention that he can read you like a script. So run and schedule a session now. If you can’t get to NYC, don’t worry, he wrote a book just for you. And you bet that I paid for that too. To learn more about Anthony Abeson please visit his website here or purchase his book, Acting 2.0: Doing Work That Gets Work in a High-tech World, here.


Official Book Launch for Anthony's book "Acting 2.0 - Doing Work that Gets Work in a High-Tech World" at The Producer's Club, May 16th, 2016.

Congratulations to these current and/or former students:

- Michael Patrick Lane and Margaret Anne Florence tapped for 2 of the leads in the series "Million Dollar Quartet" on CMT

- Samantha Logan booked the pilot of "Cruel Intentions" on NBC.

- Paulina Singer shooting Freeform's "Dead of Summer".

- Jennifer Aniston discussed how Anthony influenced her craft in a December 8, 2014 interview for the HollywoodReporter.com

“Before moving to L.A., you really began to take the study of acting seriously. I gather that your high school teacher had a pretty profound influence on you?

Anthony Abeson, yeah. He was such a passionate human being and loved actors so much. He actually left performing arts to start his own acting school and so, the minute we graduated, I went and studied with him. I was waitressing and studying, because I wanted to just start doing it, you know? So I tried and I tried — I mean, I was taking acting class, I was doing a little off-Broadway, off- off-off Broadway, maybe like, in someone’s house. We were like, “It’s off-Broadway.” “How off?” “Well, it’s like, in Brooklyn.” But yeah, and then I would waitress. I was waitressing for like, two and a half years. I couldn’t get a job [acting]. I think the first paying job I got — how I got my SAG card — was a Bob’s Big Boy commercial.

But, in terms of your technique or a specific approach, it sounded to me like Abeson shaped what you still use to this day?

"He did. It’s just the commitment to who the character is. He also believes in the wardrobe. I mean, the wardrobe, starting with your shoes. He always used to say, “It starts with the shoes. You walk differently in a pair of stilettos than you do in a pair of Keds.” With any character, when you put the clothes on — because we all have our own personal style, it really does help with just the physicality of who the character is, as well as doing the emotional study work. And also physicality, vocals, all that stuff, you know?”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/jennifer-aniston-cake-typecasting-not-754710

- Jennifer also discussed working with Anthony during a SAG Foundation Discussion just last month.

 

Excerpts of the interview and more can also be found int he January 2015 issue of the Hollywood Reporter.

- Emma Bell booked "Dallas" on TNT

- Hassan Manning booked "Enlisted" on Fox

- Vicky Jeudy booked "Orange is the New Black", a Netflix original series

- E.J. Bonilla booked "Bad Management" on ABC

- Sherri Saum booked "The Fosters" on ABC Family

- Brendan Dooling and Whitney Vance booked "The Carrie Diaries" on the CW

- Julia Garner widely praised for her performance in "Electrick Children"

- Cedric Sanders booked "Influence" on ABC

- Jimmy Wolk booked "The Crazy Ones" with Robin Williams on CBS

- Alyssa Sutherland booked "The Vikings" on The History Channel

- Chaley Rose booked "Nashville" on ABC

- Danika Yarosh booked "Shameless" on Showtime

- Amy Ferguson "Hart of Dixie"