SXSW: Jeffrey Tambor, acting coach
March 12th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

SXSW: Jeffrey Tambor, acting coach

At South By Southwest in Austin, the bulk of my time has been spent downstairs at the CNN SXSW Grill, working in a dark, cement-walled basement. (I’ve grown fond of my captors – they give me Sun Chips and Diet Coke.)

But I do have a platinum SXSW badge hanging from my neck, which allows me access to various panels and events at the interactive/music/film festival.

Sunday afternoon, I decided to actually put this undeserved badge to use and casually strolled into the convention center with the goal of taking in a panel. Any panel. I was literally looking for an open door and a chair.

As I walked rather aimlessly through the halls searching for said open door and chair, I overheard a festival volunteer call out, “Room 18 is this way!”

When I got there, I checked out the schedule of events outside the door:

12:30 PM Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop

I'll admit that I didn't recognize the name - but a quick Interweb search revealed that he’s the guy from "Arrested Development." Score! He was somebody!

Tambor soon took the stage, joined by two budding actors – a woman and man. For the next hour, these actors passionately acted out a simple scene for the audience while an affable Tambor told them how much he hated their performances.

The scene began with the male actor repeatedly saying “No,” and his companion taking the side of “Yes.”  Deep stuff.

Tambor observed their acting and challenged them to think differently – to try the scene as a comedy, as a tragedy, and even as a musical. He asked them to use funny voices, to over-act, to try it with an accent. With each attempt, the scene became more interesting.

The moral was to make mistakes - to be brave.

The female actor, Tambor said, needed to grow stronger and louder. This is when he asked her to channel her father. We learned that his name is Jim – or as Tambor put it, “Three-hundred-pound [blanking-blanking] Jim!”

It works! Tambor has transformed her into a booming Goliath, powerful and intense. 

His final instructions to her before the question and answer session: Go home, write "[blanking-blanking] JIM” on a piece of paper, leave it on your desk and look at it every day.

He then suggested that we all need to channel a little blanking-blanking Jim.

I'm not a budding actor, but I did take his advice. So when this blanking-blanking Jim got up and walked out of Room 18, I decided I'd go back to my dungeon workspace in the basement of the CNN SXSW Grill and boldly confront my captors. I would stand up and make my demands!

We need more Sun Chips and Diet Coke.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Patyonce

    Hey... Interesting post on voip equipment. By the way... Just found this rurcesoe where you can post your own articles on – if you have something you want to share with the world. Besides, at the same time you'll get a link back to your own site on anything concerning – or whatever else you'd like... why don't you check it out for yourself now...

    April 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. tffl

    Add to that Murray from Max Headroom...

    March 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I agree with these guys

    How did you get a job writing for CNN's entertainment section without knowing who an actor like Jeffrey Tambor was? I'm not a film buff at all, nor an entertainment/hollywood buff, but the reason I clicked this article was because I recognized his name. Hes "the guy" from arrested development, the larry sanders show, the hangover, entourage (where he played himself – one of ari's clients) and a bunch of voiceovers for cartoons. I'm not saying hes a huge movie star, but as a writer for CNN entertainment column I'd hope you'd at least show a little more respect than starting this article off with " i don't know who he is". There are more actors in the world than brad pitt and will smith.

    March 13, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. The Hook

    You really have no business writing an entertainment column if you don't knowwho Jeffrey Tambor is, you hack!

    March 13, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Onur Tukel

    You're right Mr. Bellini, you don't deserve that badge. Jeffrey Tambor is not just "the guy from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT." He"s a brilliant actor. His work on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW is as good as it gets. The man's a genius.

    March 13, 2012 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |

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