"Within all of us there is the capacity to be anyone or anything... There is an Iago and a Romeo within all of us, there is that lover, and there is that sociopath."I think it's this thought that drew me to this project in the first place. The "there but for the grace of God go I" concept. That none of us is above anything, none is better than anyone else, that we are all where we are due to a unique set of causes and conditions, and we will each experience immense suffering in our lives along with, hopefully, great happiness. As Lama Marut has said, "we are either in a disaster or between disasters." If one lives a life of any length, one experiences great suffering at some point. Even Iago, or Dick Cheney, or anyone we automatically think of as evil and unredeemable. Tom's video tells us how important that understanding is to an actor's process.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, in his remarkable book, Peace is Every Step,
"the essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves 'inside the skin' of the other. We 'go inside' their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the object of our observation. When we are in contact with another's suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally 'to suffer with.'"And as Tom Hiddleston points out, compassion gives actors the ability to suffer with the characters they play, which in turns gives us, the audience, an opportunity to identify with these characters, warts and all, to in some small way become one with the object of our observation. And perhaps, to see that we're not alone in the universe. That we're not all that different from them, and they're not all that different from us.
Thank you, Tom!