I fear: therefore, I am?

Every year, at about this time of year, Newsweek publishes an interview with a group of actors and actresses who are the odds-on favorites to be nominated for Academy Awards: their annual Oscar Roundtable. In their own words, "we gathered the most celebrated actors of the season for an intimate talk about the pains and joys of a life in pictures."

This year's group consisted of Annette Bening, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Hilary Swank, and Kate Winslet -- about as talented, and apparently, well-adjusted, a set of actors as you're likely to find.

I was fascinated when the conversation turned to their fears: fears I share, at least some of the time -- and maybe you do too. Take a listen:

You're all successful actors. Do you still have that fear, after each job, that you'll never work again?
BENING: Yes.
WINSLET: I feel like that all the time.
GIAMATTI: I do, too.
WINSLET: Leo doesn't. [Laughter]
SWANK: I was just working with Clint Eastwood. He's 74, and he says he never knows if each job is going to be his last.
BENING: When I was starting out, I thought there must be a point at which that goes away—that successful people didn't have insecurities or demons. What you realize is that, if anything, it gets worse.
GIAMATTI: Every job feels like the first job. I'm always fumbling through it, trying to figure it out and going, "I'm going to get fired. I'm going to get fired."

Have you ever gotten fired, though?
GIAMATTI: Oh, a bunch of times. I got fired from an episode of "Frasier." I wasn't funny. They kept tinkering with the script, and it sucked, and I was having a bad time. I was happy to be shown the door, actually.
SWANK: I got fired off "Beverly Hills, 90210." It was in its last stages, when no one was watching it, and I thought, "If I'm not even good enough for this, I'm never going to make it." So I was coming off this one-hour show, and I was testing for another one-hour show with this very well-known executive—
BENING: Who will go nameless.
SWANK: Very nameless. And he said, "I would hire you, but you're just too 'half hour'." [Laughter] But you have to trust fate, because four months later I got "Boys Don't Cry."

Does the fear of failure ever go away?
WINSLET: Fear is a great thing for an actor, because you have to confront it, you know. There's always the feeling of "I can't do this. They've got the wrong person." This job is so exciting, and most of it is terrifying, but the day I say "That's it, I know how to act" is the day it ceases to be interesting.

I really give these guys credit for their honesty. Weird to say that, I know, about a bunch of people who make their living pretending to be other people. But it certainly jives with my experience: the wonderful and terrible thing about working in this industry, about working for Sun.

Actually, about being a grown-up. :)

The whole interview is a worthwhile read: you can check it out here. And go see the movies!

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