Acting ‘Routine Job’ to Newest of Film’s Favorites (1931)

Acting ‘Routine Job’ to Newest of Film’s Favorites

by Jerry Hoffman, Universal Service Staff Correspondent.

Hollywood, June 13.– “The line of least resistance is a routine job, and acting,”–Leslie Howard didn’t even pause for effect–“has become a routine job.”
Coming from a director or producer that remark wouldn’t mean a thing. Spoken by an actor, particularly one of Leslie Howard’s standing in the theater, it startled. All the more because Howard is known for his leaning towards the more artistic things, and as one to whom acting is not “just a business.”
“Just how would you place acting in the category of routine?” I demanded. “Doesn’t emotion or its expression rate better than that?”
“Genuine emotion, undoubtedly,” he agreed. “But emotions repeatedly expressed at the same time and in the same situation–are, after all, routine.
“The most difficult thing about acting today,” continued the young man of “Outward Bound,” “Berkeley Square,” “The Green Hat” and innumerable others, “is getting the job. After that, it’s rehearsals and performances so long as the play runs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

“Of course, the routine thing changes more often in pictures than on stage. That’s one advantage of working in them. The flaw in pictures for actors, however, is that they cannot always have the option of selecting their routine. An experienced stage player can protect himself to the extent of turning down roles or plays that he feels will no do him any good.”
All of which doesn’t mean that Leslie Howard is not happy as an actor. He is, but at the same time admits the bromide about “discontent that makes us do better things.” He would, says Howard, like to be a writer, but fears he would not like the hard work.
“Hard work?” I repeated.
“Certainly. Writing is purely a job of concentration. The cleverest writers are not the most successful. The most successful are those best organized. Which again brings up the point of routine.”

Has No Pretension

A mind capable of analysis to the point of Leslie Howard’s is rarely encountered in an artist.
He doesn’t claim any artistic background. He was a bank clerk in England when war broke out and simply determined to become an actor when peace was declared.
“I didn’t know an actor, and had no relatives in theatricals,” he told me; “I simply haunted offices until I got a job.”

(Syracuse American, June 14, 1931)