Working with the biggest names in Hollywood has made young actors Logan Lerman, Danielle Macdonald and Callum Woodhouse realize that their famous co-stars are human, too.
In the Ivy Film Festival’s Rising Stars Panel moderated by IFF industry board leader Katya Stambler ’21, the young celebrities shared some of the lessons they have learned from working with A-list actors, as well as some of their own struggles within the industry.
“You can’t be in a scene with someone if you idealize them,” Macdonald said. “Because then how are you ever meant to connect with them and get on the same level?”
Macdonald is an Australian actress who starred in the 2017 film “Patti Cake$,” as well as the 2018 Netflix films “Dumplin’” alongside Jennifer Aniston and “Bird Box,” alongside Sandra Bullock.
“It’s a really good thing that when you meet them, … they’re just another human being who you’re connecting with, like you would your friends,” Macdonald said.
Logan Lerman, an American actor known for his roles in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Vanishing of Sidney Hall” and the “Percy Jackson” film series, among other films, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s just liberating to see that some really talented people who have done … really great work… are human. They’re just searching just like myself or anybody else is,” Lerman said.
Before working with stars such as Al Pacino and Jim Carrey, Lerman said he thought such top names “may possess some sort of greater ability than I had.” But acting alongside them “demystified the whole perception,” he added, noting that it was rewarding to learn about “who they are, what their process is like and to know that they’re just as nervous as you.”
Lerman emphasized the importance of preparing for a project, describing how good acting requires a good work ethic. This message resonated strongly with audience member Yurema Perez-Hinojosa ’20, a student on IFF’s programming staff, who has witnessed the importance of preparation as a student actor and director.
“People think that there’s an innate talent, or it’s something that people are born with, but a lot of the time it’s literally just how much effort and energy are you willing to put in? And, how much is that going to drive you?” Perez-Hinojosa said. She added that “this can go across any field of work.”
The panelists also spoke about challenges they have faced as actors. Macdonald shared the difficulty of learning to rap for her role in “Patti Cake$,” and Woodhouse and Lerman discussed dealing with rejection in their careers.
“The whole rejection thing, … I can’t imagine it would ever get any easier,” said Woodhouse, a British actor known for his roles in “The Durrells in Corfu,” “The Hoist” and other films and TV shows. “It’s horrible, but I mean you just try and cope with it,” he continued. “Every time there is a rejection, … you see the project at the end, and it’s like, ‘Oh well of course I didn’t get it, they were perfect.’ … There’s always a reason, it’s not because you’re terrible — you have to try and remember that.”
Lerman followed up this advice with a confession met by laughter from the audience: “Sometimes I’ve been terrible, and some of my favorite actors I’ve worked with — I have seen them be terrible.” All three actors discussed the need to normalize their failures and humanize their famous co-stars.
The hour-long event was split between the moderated panel and audience questions. According to IFF managing director Chautauqua Ordway ’20, the IFF industry team was responsible for bringing the speakers to campus, formatting the panels and deciding the festival’s themes. This process included filling the Rising Stars Panel with “people who are young, who can relate to a college audience,” Ordway said.
Perez-Hinojosa said she “was interested in listening to what young actors have to say about the work that they’re doing and the experiences that they’re having,” adding that the best part of the event was talking to the stars after the panel.
Another audience member, Vivian Van ’21, liked that the moderator asked questions on “things that you can’t really find in online interviews with these panelists.”