Aidan J Crowley Diary Quotes & Scribbles on Life
Acting is a beautiful craft and the Theatre should be a Sacred Space. However you will notice that today it is not respected as such in most instances.
You have to earn the right to stand on the stage and play the part.
It is of the utmost importance in life but especially as an artist or a creative person to be unique to your own imagination and voice. You have to go out on your own. You cannot rely on anyone else. There will come a point in your life when you will be out on your own and you will need to sustain your own momentum. Attempting to fit-in or trying to get producers to hire you or respect your work and talent is a pointless exercise. We do not live in an honourable creative environment anymore. You have to stand firm for your own unique work. I don’t need anyone to live my life or express my artistic works. I do it because I have a need to satisfy myself not anyone else.
It is the Imagination that is key both in acting, creativity, life. That is key. Fill it with every subconscious beauty and knowledge. Go to art galleries. Read, learn new languages. Travel and experience the cultures of the world.
I think I just prefer the old aesthetic, you know what I mean? That old-fashioned flickering black and white image on the screen. Perhaps I am a romantic in that sense?
Nowadays I tend to disappear for a few years and work on my projects behind the scenes. I only have to impress myself to be honest. When I am ready then I get the work out there. If people like it I am grateful and humbled. But I work on my own terms.
What you learn early on as an actor is that most people haven't a clue how it works. Whether they be critics or the public, they simply have no idea. I have been given praise and fantastic reviews on the one hand and bad reviews on the other and all for various plays and the same or various roles. This happens all the time and you just have to let it be. There is no way you can appreciate what a professional artist does unless you are one yourself. By default if you are not in front of the camera with me or on the stage as my fellow actor, who really gives a fuck what you think? Nowadays the art of the quality critic who knows about theatre-craft and filmmaking and singing is long gone. There might be a handful of genuine critics left in the business who I would respect but still it is only an opinion. Do you really think I care what an amateur blogger thinks of the play? You must be joking. But you know, I don't think it is the business of any artist to give a shit what anyone else thinks of their work. I never seek opinion or advice anymore. I just do it my way. At least there is authenticity in that. I kind of learned a long time ago not to give a shit what anyone thinks really.
Almost everything I create, films, music, in theatre you know it is all rough around the edges. I like that. I like avoiding perfection. I like hearing breath on a microphone or shooting on old cameras in black and white. I like playing a role in a different way and pissing off the 'it should be done this way' gentry. We are too sanitised nowadays into crisp images and smooth recordings. But that is not life. Life is not like that at all. We are all flawed and life is challenging and in some way I guess I want my work to express that. You can't go anywhere if you are too clean and exact in creativity. Nothing worthwhile happens until you push away the rules or break away from what is 'expected' and dare to do your own thing and not give a damn what anyone thinks.
Listen I am an eccentric kind of man. I have always done my own thing. I have never taken a job just because I had to. I have turned down auditions and offers of roles if I did not feel I could do it justice or if I felt it was a shitty idea. I have never been a whore to the business. Some people think that is insanity but I think it is taking charge of my life and work and guess what...I don’t care what anyone else thinks whatsoever. I have never followed the crowd.
Well I have played characters that are very naturalistic but I think I am better at roles that are classical in tone with a certain heft to their energy. I'm sure I would have fit in well in the old days with Kean or Macready and their style.
Oh gosh I used to be a selfish arsehole. Every actor is inherently selfish and arrogant. When I was in my twenties even parts of my thirties I was a jerk. I had no problem pretending to care or telling bullshit stories to get what I wanted whether that be in my private life or in work. I made shit up sometimes to provoke others or to end relationships because I was bored. I know why and where that insecurity came from but it is not an excuse. Nowadays I am more intelligent than that behaviour.
I dislike immensely being treated like an idiot - there is still an element in society particularly in England where if you are Irish you are perceived as not as smart as the rest. That attitude is typical of the ignorant. Then there is an element that I have met in my life that dare to treat me like a fool. But of course I have the last laugh.
If you live life based upon the numbers of followers on your social media sites or your current status on IMDB you are a f****** idiot. I unfollow more people than I ever allow to be my friends on social media.
You have to chip away at the work and life for years and years and then one day something happens…as if out of nowhere there you are…but you know all the blood sweat and tears you have put into it.
Don't you think the point of any good piece of art is that it is imperfect? Isn't it better to be honest, authentic, allow the mistakes. I can't think of any role I have played or any film or any voiceover or song I have worked on that does not have a flaw somewhere in there. But that is being human. That is being an artist surely? Aim for perfection sure but there comes a point where it is more truthful to show it all with scars and all. So what if the line reading was slightly off? So what if the note was slightly harsh there? Who cares if your concentration lapsed there? Just keep going. People like honesty and flaws that is part of our job. You have to have a Marcel Duchamp attitude to it all.
In Drama School I was trained in the classical European sense. I think that was the end of an era to be honest and I was very lucky to have been there.
In one sense I strive for imperfection…life is imperfect…you know when I am making films or music or albums or working with actors and musicians I strive to break the rules…I do not want everything crisp and perfect and clean. Life is not like that at all. Something should be 'off' about it whether that is a shot or a song or a scene…something should be off-kilter about it. Hyper realistic high definition or 20k is anathema to me. Life is not in 8k perfection or recorded in a the sound-proof studio…and it is bullshit presenting art like that. Show me the rough and ready.
Actors should play roles - every single role I have ever played from youth theatre to drama school and to the present day - these are all characters to play - they all look different - they all feel different - even though they are expressions of me of course - but this is the point. Everyone wants personalities today - but there are only a few true actors and frankly I would prefer to be considered a true actor - that is how I was trained and that is how I play any part - look at any photos from the parts I have played and they are all different. Many times at the stage door I have been told 'Oh but you look so different off the stage' but yes that is entirely the point surely? I had a very good director called Terry Meech in Mountview and he said one of the great freedoms of being an actor was you could walk out of the theatre into the evening and not a soul knows who you are or who you just played on the stage. That is exactly right.
There are certain projects you shouldn't touch with a fifty foot bargepole due to the people involved.
I've been chipping away at the craft the work for years. That is exactly how to learn, carve the life you want. One day you seemingly appear out of nowhere.
You don’t need thirty people on your crew to shoot an indie film - you can do it entirely by yourself - be smart - get your own camera, buy some lights and mics and shoot it yourself - be careful not to fall for the ‘how it should be done’ trap - a large crew and budget does not necessarily equal quality and substance - again do not follow the crowd.
What do I believe in? Well I believe there is some kind of energy in everything so that is Panpsychicism right? Okay then I also believe in a Dao as in what Lao Tzu wrote about in the Tao Te Ching. Then I believe in the advice of the Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, throw in some Alan Watts. Then I also like that kindness and intelligence of the Secular Humanists. So I guess I believe in a mixture of all of those philosophies and Me and I believe in ice-cream too.
I am of the old fashioned view that an actor plays different characters. Now I agree that an actor is revealing himself from within by playing those parts and I agree with David Mamet saying 'there is no character just the text on the page'. However each character, despite being an inner expression of myself, should be different both externally and catching that inner spirit of truth. Nowadays there are far too many actors playing themselves and playing to type. This is not what a true actor does in my opinion. That was how I was trained and those are the actors that I admire the most.
You see the thing about me is that I have never had any interest in fame or celebrity. I just think is so utterly vacuous and meaningless. Ask anyone who knew me in Drama School or Youth Theatre...I would just want to do the work. No interest even in socialising. Today I feel the same. I just want to continue to produce my films and my music and my other projects.
Fame is utterly vacuous. Why the hell would anyone want to be famous? The tragedy of a generation is they all want to be rich and famous without any focus on talent or craft or longevity. You know more people applied for that shitty tv show 'Love Island' than applied to Oxbridge in 2017 was it? Maybe even this year. What utter horror. But they think that is the best thing to do! Can you believe it? You heard of an actor called Greg Hicks? Likely one of the greatest Shakespearean actors ever. But nobody has heard of him other than in the business. He is fantastic. I saw him at work in Bacchai (Sir Peter Hall, RNT) when I was 'carrying a spear'. You think he gives a crap about fame? Nope. He cares about the Craft of his work. End of story. Respect is what you want, not empty bullshit. It is fucking atrocious.
I hate directors pulling tricks. If a director pulls tricks to try and get you to play something a certain way he is an idiot. Has he considered perhaps asking the actor to try it a particular way for example in the first place? Some directors are useless. You know when you work for someone and you have more talent in your fingernail than they have in their entire ability? I don't work with those kinds of people anymore. But when you are young and inexperienced you do what you can.
As a young actor in particular you can be taken off trajectory by producers, directors, even the public comment. All will try to box you in. Refused to be boxed in.
There have been great friends along the way who sadly are no longer with us. Lee Rhodes, Zane Aver and Tom O’Connor from Co. Cork. All very great friends to me despite my not always being a good friend to them. They are all gone now and I do miss them. I don’t need any more friends really. I have my girlfriend, family.
You know one of the most fundamental things that can change your life - learn how to BREATHE. We learn how to breathe for singing of course and acting but it must become part of your life, moment to moment become aware of your BREATH. I cannot emphasise this enough. Learn how to do it.
Showbiz is full of bullshit. The trick is to ignore and avoid the bullshit and follow your own truth and authenticity. When you are a nobody struggling away in the background yet making positive progress no one gives a damn about you. Soon as you make a name for yourself suddenly everyone emerges from the woodwork and wants to shake your hand...they will follow you on social media and reply to your emails...fickle as fuck...remember this story.
Most producers have no courage at all. They are all terrified of losing money and image. Notice how much shit is made these days. They play it safe. Can you blame them? Yes you can.
I am both adopted and an actor...there are similarities...nobody has a clue as to the reality of either unless you are living it yourself. Therefore ignore anyone who tries to give you advice on something they have no intelligence about.
I have had some really wonderful people help me especially when I was starting out. Geoffrey and Hazel Sykes at the Manchester Youth Theatre, Patricia Leventon and Gerard Reidy at the LCTS, Peter Coxhead, Brian Astbury, Terry Meech, Jude Tisdall, Claudette Williams, Geoffrey Coleman at Mountview, David Harris, Andrew Tidmarsh, Marcus Markou then Steve Miller, Sasha Regan, Ben De Wynter at the Union Theatre, Andrew Jarvis at the LCTS and Mary Hammond. I did some commercials with Declan Lowney, Scott Corbett and Mark Denton for example and they were very kind to me. You know you don’t forget those that help you. Of course there have been many bastards along the way too but that is part of life especially in this business.
As for me I do it all myself within reason. I have been running my own 'Aidan Incorporated' for years. Minding my own business, step-by-step. Of course that is exactly the point. When you are your own Boss then it is up to you. Your life and work becomes Boutique, hand-made shall we say. I am not beholden to anyone else. Everything has my stamp on it. The buck stops with me.
Socialism does not work. At the moment the only reasonable system that works is Capitalism. It would help if there were more Capitalists with a philanthropical attitude. I am always bemused with actors and creatives who remain far left wing when in fact they appear in productions that are financed by wealthy capitalist sponsors and benefactors. Artists can be totally hypocritical and ignore the facts.
See I don't have to nor do I want to impress anyone but myself. That gives me Freedom. I have never been interested in being famous or celebrity or any of that crap. I am perfectly happy to just express whatever appears from my imagination. Then I put my Producer hat on and figure out how to bring it to life. When you are not trying to be a part of the system so-to-speak you can do what you want. There is brutal authenticity in that. We live in a very fake society at the moment and as an Artist or Creative you have to find the authenticity within yourself. Otherwise you are fucked.
I suppose this doesn't just apply to actors but in life you have to be careful of people who b**** about you behind your back and simply do not like you for no justified reasons. It is boring but a factor in life. I suppose it is because they are not happy themselves.
You have to be cautious dealing with agents. Don’t trust any fucker. Before I was savvy I had an experience years ago of an agency owned by a z-list British actor and his horrible female partner. Cutting a long-story short, turns out they were stealing money from us actors. So we shut them down and Equity recovered most of the cash, but they reopened under another name later on. You have to be careful. Years later I complained on social media about them, without naming them, and a typical mafiosa casting director (he was friends with them) tried to defend them. I remember a number of actors contacting me so desperate not to be seen as speaking out against the agent they would not believe what we were saying. That is exactly how impressionable young actors get screwed out of money. Beware of the arseholes in this business. Some of us actually tell the truth. Now I actually refuse any representation. You want me you have to get me directly.
There was a time back when I had just graduated. I was on a theatre tour and sitting in the green room of a theatre. All the cast were present and there was this aggressive actor trying to grab me between my legs...I mean he was a jerk for sure...but none of the other actors did anything about it. He just kept persisting and making crude comments. Today it would be part of the ‘me-too’ campaign eh? But I mean back then I dunno. It just is not worth it to name the guy. They do exist a bunch of c**** in the business...it is good I think they are being exposed and ruined don’t you think? Saying that, what an actress might have to deal with, sexism, chauvinism, is far worse than what any young actor goes though. Nowadays I would punch his face in. Jeez there is always some nasty bastards you meet on the journey. I think our business allows for dysfunctional people but thankfully that is becoming less accepted and we are better for it.
I have mixed feelings of working in Fringe theatre. I did some really good work on the UK fringe but it seems to be exploitative of the actor. If producers are happy to pay musicians and visiting directors a wage or fee then why not pay the actors also? It is tremendously disrespectful of actors especially young actors trying to get credits on the resumé. A double-edged sword. However it made me always focus on paying a reasonable fee to all my cast/crew for everything.
You have to be careful who you listen to. Most so-called experts really have no idea. I remember a respected musical director in London insisting I was a baritone when every vocal coach from both the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music and beyond know that I have always been an Heroic Tenor. Of course anyone with skill understands the fact of that voice and the 'heavy' aspect to it but a Baritone it is not. Beware those people in the business who think they know more about your talent than you do.
Don’t you think it is a copout to be labelled? I mean it is so easy to just be called an actor or a director...I refuse to be labelled as anything. Yes I am an actor yes I am a singer but I don’t treat any one of those skills as less than each other. I don’t prefer one to the other. Whichever I am doing in that moment is the most important thing and I focus on that just as much. If you have ability just work the ability and you get better at it. Refuse to be labelled. It is utter nonsense to focus on any one thing more than the other if you have the ability to do so. Do everything well!
It is interesting you know to be independent of the system or the studio influence I suppose...it is up to me to make my film as I want it to be. It is also up to me to do it all myself and take responsibility for that. Which I do.
Extinction Rebellion? A middle-class temper tantrum that will not achieve anything worthwhile other than piss everyone off.
Be careful of directors who use 'tricks' to get you to do what they want. Especially when you are a young actor. Any director who uses tricks does not have the vocabulary to simply speak to you as an actor and guide you to what they would prefer. A good director trusts the actor and does not say much at all.
When I was a young actor I was less likely to stand up for myself. You know you just want to do the work and try to be nice. Sometimes there are arseholes who simply dislike the fact that you are happy and just want to do the job and be a decent human being. I remember being on a show and another actor in rehearsals literally picked me up and threw me onto the stage floor horizontal as in a wrestling throw. It was hidden behind a veil of being comedic but it was not funny in the least. He was a jerk. So I have many reasons and experiences over the years as an actor that warrants me being a tough son of a bitch nowadays when I want to be.
I suppose regarding my voice, well I am a just a versatile singer really…I don't think you can call me an opera singer because that is not what I do despite my singing some classical pieces. I mean I also write my own songs and they are far more rock based. But I just sing songs that I like and I don't see why that has to be restricted to a genre.
The moment a director starts talking about playing games or throwing ball in the rehearsal space or spending four hours explaining why the writer placed a comma after a line is the second I want to go and have a cappuccino.
Never follow the crowd. Back in drama school there was a great Movement director but he was blunt and honest. Most of the school had a meeting to vote him out. I was the only one who told the entire school they were dumb to get rid of this guy. After that people were wary of me because I would never follow the crowd. I still don't! That was a stupid thing they all did back then. You know why they did it? He told them how good or shit they were. Student actors can be so pretentious.
I would hope that when it comes down to it that my films will be the utmost antidote to the comic-book green-screen extravaganza.
I like being a 'nobody' - it is to my advantage if no-one knows who the hell I am and I like it that way.
Isn’t being Creative simply part of being a human being that lives life to the full as opposed to simply just existing? I have to express my creative self, I mean it is primal to me to make things, film, be the actor, sing, write music...I suppose I am an Artist...it is true to say I am not simply an actor or a singer...there is more to me than that but it is simply my self-expression.
No I am not political. If anything I am my own political animal and I do not support any party. However I think Socialism is an out-dated concept that will never work. The radical lefty politik leaves me cold. We should be encouraging entrepreneurship. Get off your arse and make your own life. If you keep blaming the rich for your problems or constantly preaching to tax the rich you will never succeed. I always laugh at left-wingers anyway because in our business it is wealthy investors and producers who pay for the production and the actor wages! They are so hypocritical in my business.
The UK recently voted for Brexit - which is a disaster, especially in these dangerous times of the lone-wolf terrorist, let alone the future damage it will create for your children and business. As for the NHS it is crumbling as it is, with lack of funding, and congratulations, you help it to crumble even more when you voted for Brexit. We need to all take care of each other and stick together! It is boring now that everyone complains about President Trump in the USA but Brexit is far worse. To vote to leave the EU is one of the greatest mistakes in UK history. Being Irish I am more concerned about the effect on Peace in my country.
Am I a Contrarian? Probably. I am always suspicious of the consensus and I often find the Zeitgeist as to be a psychotic endemic without intelligent thought.
I abhor any kind of extremism be that from the left, the middle or the right. Any extremist is lacking in primary intelligence and education.
There is a long-term strategy to my career and work. I know exactly the various goals to reach the Endgame. It does not matter to me the distance, the length of time it takes. It is the journey that matters though. I am not sure how you can be an actor, a singer, a filmmaker, an artist, without having a long-term strategy. The trick is the avoid everything that anyone tells you. Don't listen to anyone. Just do it yourself. Most people haven't a clue what they are talking about. Trust yourself.
Oh my gosh never follow the herd! It is deliberate that I am not based in the 'buzzing' area or in LA or central London or that I am not a member of 'Soho House' or the like. It is absolutely deliberate. Warren Buffett has some good advice on avoiding the typical kernel and create your own. He lives in Omaha not Wall Street.