MALIBU, CA—Calling the process of acting as though you are someone you are not a "pretty ridiculous thing to do," actor Ed Harris, 60, admitted to reporters Tuesday that he frequently feels silly pretending to be another person.
"I don't know, I guess there's just something really goofy about being, like, 'Hello, my name is Frank, and I'm a cop,' or whatever, when that's not who I am at all," said Harris, adding that it is especially weird doing this on the set of a movie because "the whole thing is make-believe but everyone has to act like it's real." "Sometimes they give me a hat or something to wear, or I'm supposed to speak with an accent, and then I feel especially silly because it's like, 'Why am I wearing this hat and talking in this funny voice? This is so weird and dumb, you know?'"
Despite his numerous acting credits over a long career, Harris said having to move around and do things for long stretches of time while confidently saying he is someone who he actually isn't has "never stopped seeming ludicrous, really, and in fact becomes more preposterous the older I get because now I'm like a 60-year-old guy playing pretend."
While Harris said he is sometimes able to distract himself from the "unbelievable silliness of it all" by simply acting like himself, he told reporters that doing so is often very difficult because he is made to say and do things that he himself would never say or do, typically in places he's never been to and while wearing clothes that do not actually belong to him.
"Sometimes I have to pretend to get mad and yell at someone who I'm not even angry with—and that person is pretending to be someone else, too, so I have to call them by the name of the person they are pretending to be while I'm yelling at them," said Harris, adding that he occasionally catches his own reflection in a mirror or pane of glass while he's pretending to be someone else and it "cracks [him] up every time." "Most of the time when they're filming me acting like a guy who's not me, I'm just hoping to get through it without smiling or laughing when I look at the person I'm talking to."
"It's really hard," Harris added.
The prolific actor went on to explain that the process is made doubly ridiculous by the fact that he is regularly instructed to go back and say the same thing he has just said again, and that the person he is saying it to is then instructed to act as though they are hearing what he's saying for the first time, even if it's actually the 10th or 11th time they've heard him say it.
Harris also said none of this is talked about by anyone else on set, which he described as a weird thing.
"Look, I'm not complaining, because it's sort of neat and it actually pays a lot of money; it's just pretty silly, that's all," Harris said. "Anyway, that's about all I have to say about acting."