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Podcast #61: Alan Cumming on NYC and Acting

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He's written a memoir called Not My Father's Son. He's Eli Gold on The Good Wife. He's been Nightcrawler in X-2: Men United and Hamlet and Mr. Elton in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. He's Alan Cumming, and we're so pleased to share his recent appearance at Books at Noon in this week's episode of the New York Public Library podcast. Cumming discussed acting and his favorite way to spend time in New York City.

Alan Cumming at Books at Noon

Cumming has acted in over four dozen films, as well as onstage and on television, yet he didn't set out to be an actor. Instead, he explained, his acting began as an extension of childhood play:

"I sort of think that acting should be like play, like kids playing. I really think that the kind of spirit you should take into it is exactly about when kids are just making things up and pretending, and if you overanalyze it like a lot of American theater and film practitioners do, then I think that you lose that levity and that honesty and that authenticity. So I guess that I kind of liked acting before I knew you could be an actor. I sort of used it when I was a little boy. I made up stories for myself, running around the woods with my dog. But that was before. I didn't grow up thinking, 'I want to be a movie star.' It wasn't until I was in high school and I did a play and it was really the first thing I was ever good at."

One of his skills as an actor is his ability to move evocatively. Cumming admitted that it's the first way that he gets into character:

"I do think of characters in a physical way first, like how they move. I think I get into the character by their physicality first. I don't know why, but that's always something that's been my thing, and I do therefore play much more of a range of types. And also had a bit of dance in my past helps. I think when I look around, it's harder to observe people when you're being observed, but when I do get a chance to people watch, I think I look at people in a very sort of physical way. Very physical manifestations of things  get me first of all."

Though born in Scotland, Cumming now calls New York City home. He explained that the city is one that offers the possibility of excitement, even when excitement isn't sought:

"In New York every day when you walk out of your door is an adventure potentially. I really do, and I love that. It's been rare of late because I've been so crazy busy, but now I'm kind of back. I just love going out and just wandering. I don't get to do nothing very often, but doing nothing in New York it's the most exciting place to do nothing in. I just like wandering around and taking my chances."

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meeting the actor

Im a fan of alan cumming

Inspiring memoir

I so enjoyed reading alan cumming. I admire how he decided that he was going to come out of his painful background with his psyche intact. He is a delightful human being.

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