The great actor Dustin Hoffman talked on Inside the Actors Studio about a key moment in the movie Midnight Cowboy. In the scene, his character “Ratzo” Rizzo is talking with Jon Voigt’s character on a New York street when a traffic light changes. As they step off the curb, a taxi almost hits Ratzo.
This was a “stolen” scene, shot on a real street in New York with real people all around, using a hidden camera. Hoffman says they had to try it several different times to get the timing right, and obviously the cab almost hitting him was NOT in the screenplay. So in reacting to almost being pulverized, he pounded on the taxi’s hood, and what he WANTED to say was “Hey, we’re working here! We’re shooting here!” But being totally devoted to staying in character, he said “Hey! I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’ here!”—a defining moment for Ratzo’s aggressive attitude toward the world around him, and one of the most memorable scenes of Hoffman’s career.
The Emotion of the scene fueled the technical side of what he did—banging on the hood and shouting that line to the idiot driver.
If you really want to become something special on the air, instead of just a disc jockey or analytical Talk host, embrace the thought that while technical and organizational skills are a great foundation, sometimes what you FEEL should guide what you say.
If you have trouble with this, maybe you need a coach. I know one you could call.
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Radio Talent Coach
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2013 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.