Glenn Morshower, known from his extensive acting credits, including General Morshower in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon and Aaron Pierce on 24, shares the philosophy behind his The Extra Mile seminar and how it goes hand in hand with acting.
Catrine: When my father passed away, he was told on a Sunday that he would not live another day, but he insisted that he’d be around to watch one last episode of 24. He did and he passed away the next day. How can you wrap your head around having been a huge part of a show that had so much influence on people’s lives?
Glenn: I actually can’t. It’s somewhat mind blowing that television and film are both incredibly powerful. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a story like this.
Catrine: Can you tell us a little bit about The Extra Mile?
Glenn: So, The Extra Mile, a course that I’ve been teaching for 28 years, refers to a way of being—a way of life—where you inhabit moments both full of effort, and frankly better certainly more efficiently and more compassionately—with greater consideration, with certainly greater love. I mentioned the one where you’re filling your car up with gas and you see some trash. Pick it up. It’s only going to take you two extra feet and you’re not going anywhere because it takes time for your car to fill up anyway. What’s beautiful about this—I want to make the correlation so that whoever reads this doesn’t think, “What’s the big deal? So you picked up some trash.” No. It’s exponentially felt. Now, let’s take it to the next step, later that day (it’s a rainy day) you get out of your car and you’re walking to your destination and you look down—and I’m not making this up—this is stuff that I’ve done many, many times. You look down and there’s a worm on the sidewalk. The sidewalk to a worm is like you and I being placed out in the middle of the freeway—they can’t get out of the way fast enough because someone’s coming. So, what I routinely do—I’m president of the National Worm Rescuer Society, self-appointed, by the way—I just take out a bill and I reach down and I actually place it under them and I gently maneuver them onto it, pick them up, and go place them in the nearest garden, or whatever.
I do this many times—not just with worms, but with other creatures. If there’s a bug in the house, I never swat it—I take it out. And this is what this produces—and I challenge people to try this and see what happens—when we leave that situation, we actually have a moment where we take notice that that was one of our highest selves that took that action. And I actually now like the man I am just a little bit more. No matter where you’re at—if you’re low in the rise or if you’re already high, and I have pretty healthy self-esteem—but it’s a confirmation of why it is that I enjoy residing in my skin. To me, there’s not anything more important in life—for anybody, anywhere, at any time—than to feel great about being in the assigned sack of skin that you’re in. We’re in this thing for the duration, so it might as well be a celebration.
By doing things that feel good that helps others, it bolsters self-esteem and you actually look in the mirror and say, “I like the person you are,” or, “I like the woman/man you are.” And that condition of feeling good travels with you everywhere you go—I’m convinced it’s why I’ve had a good acting career. It’s not just talent—I have talent, but a lot of people have talent. And many of those talented people are actually in the unemployment line, so it can’t go down to just talent. It’s about energy. What are you exuding when you walk into a room, and do people wish to be near it? What is your level of magnetic attraction? If they’re enjoying who you are, then by the time you begin to read, they’re already leaning forward in the chair because they’re drawn to you. And it would make it really lovely for us for you to read really well because right now I’m feeling moved to hire you already. So, as long as you don’t stink up the room as an actor, I’m probably going to be making you an offer. And it’s not just limited to acting—it’s everything. It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in; if people are drawn to you magnetically, then you’ll have a wonderful life—that’s inevitable. That’s what The Extra Mile is all about.
Catrine: That’s great, so along those lines, Glenn, we will be addressing a lot of beginning actors that are just getting started. A lot of people have trouble differentiating a strong self-esteem and a big ego. What I’m seeing a lot of now, which I’m sure you are too, which are young actors that want to be famous—it’s not about the craft, it’s about being famous. Would you address that?
Glenn: Yeah, of course, and reality television really fueled that because people with no infrastructure, or preparation, all of a sudden show up on a show and they’re a mega-star because of exposure. But acting is a craft, and if anyone has a big ego going—those are not the same thing at all; healthy self-esteem is a completely different thing. Healthy self-esteem is wonderful; whereas, a big head—we have another psychological term for that and the term is “idiot,” and there are a lot of them. There are a lot of them in show business.
I’m at a con right now—a comic convention in Salt Lake City—and I haven’t seen this around me this trip, but in some of the conventions that I do, for example, the actors that are sitting there at the table are acting like they’re doing you some big favor simply by gracing you with their presence, which means that on some level, they actually esteem themselves to be above others. This is so incredibly wrong and so insanely misinformed. We have a place here and the fans come to be here, so it should be meaningful for them when they come up to greet you or shake your hand or give you a hug. How do you not make eye contact, for example—how dare you charge thirty, forty, fifty dollars for an autograph where you don’t even look up and you just scribble and it’s not even legible. Take a moment to flip it around and be on the other side—don’t be you, don’t be the celebrity right now. Flip it around and be the one that’s approaching you and see what that feels like. Then ask yourself, “Who would I like them to be in this moment when I approach? What would make it special for me having come from Green Bay, Wisconsin all the way to Salt Lake City,” and be that.
We had a word for it in the sixties, and that word was “duh!” It seems like a “duh,” but most people, for some reason, don’t grasp that. It’s nothing more than an application of “the golden rule.” And when we really follow “the golden rule,” simply put, life works.
Catrine: Absolutely. In closing, at what point did you give yourself permission to say, “I am an actor.”
Glenn: Fairly early on because I wasn’t waiting to be legitimized. I trained at the theater. I think probably after about three years of feeling the pulse beat of an audience—of having them out there—you’d have a moment and you would feel it because it’s palpable. You’d feel that moment and, in some instances, actually see it. Someone is moved right there in the front row, and at that point I was able to walk backstage and go, “I’m an actor.”
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Last modified: September 14, 2017