Power elbows

In an interview on the
Prime Suspect 7 DVD, Dame Helen Mirren thanks a senior policewoman who advised her against smiling or folding her arms while in character as Jane Tennison:

"You can watch all 22 hours of
Prime Suspect and I never fold my arms. It's a defensive act and while you might think folding your arms looks strong, you're actually putting up a barrier to defend yourself... For Tennison to have used such basic body language in her own incident room would have betrayed her instantly."

Michael Shurtleff gave us similar advice in class once, though with less nifty psychology and more straight-up ego. "Keep your damn elbows from touching your body," he said. "It makes you look small. On stage, you want to look big – so people will look at you."

I wish someone had given Joseph Fiennes that advice before he starred as an FBI agent in
FlashForward. I like Joseph Fiennes. I'm one of the few people in Hollywood who thinks Shakespeare In Love deserved to win over Saving Private Ryan – and will say so out loud. But I hated Mr. Fiennes' performance in FlashForward. Dude had his arms clamped in front of his body – elbows touching shirt – in every scene. I wound up rooting for the slimy guy from Pirates Of The Caribbean to run off with Penny from Lost. That can't have been right. Joseph Fiennes' character was the series lead; I should have been rooting for him. I'm not blaming Mr. Fiennes for the death of the series... but these elbows didn't help.

Okay readers, where are your elbows right now? Think about it – then MOVE THEM. Do this in interviews. Do this any time you want people to take you seriously. And if you've got an actor on whom the survival of your entire precious series depends, tell him you want to see daylight inside those elbows, now!

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