As the French filmmaker Jean Renoir put it; Some actors are very intelligent, but it is not necessarily with their intelligence that they act (Mackendrick 2004). I agree the actor or the actress don´t need to be intelligent to act. It´s highly more important that they´re talented.
Another interesting point, Mackendrick writes, it that if an actor is fully conscious of the film-making process, his performance might be too premeditated and not spontaneous enough. I think there is some truth to that. Not that I have ever acted professionally, but I can imagine worrying or thinking about the technical aspect of the production might restrain you from acting out your full potential.
How does the director get an actor to do what she wants? What intrigued me most reading Mackendrick´s `The Director and the Actor´, was the point that as a director you´ve already failed if you demonstrate to the actor by acting the role yourself, by reading the line of dialogue for the actor to mimic or by performing the gesture so that the actor can copy it.
Blinded by preconceptions, you may well have closed your mind to what the actor is able to contribute (Mackendrick 2004). Imagine being a director, picture in your mind the movie you´ve worked so hard on planning. You have a vision; you know how you want to do this. But things change. Not everything works out as planned and you need to adapt. There´s no point sticking to a plan that is not doable when the actress clearly knows what she´s doing.
Mackendrick has some valid points. I think it´s obvious that the director must have respect for his actors. To get the actor to do what you need I think it is important to listen to their ideas and most of all be humble. Mackendrick writes that infinite patience is necessary, as the director’s job is to gradually jockey the actor into thinking up what you´ve already thought up.
Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p. 179- 194). London: Faber and Faber, 2004.