Approximately 350 students, faculty, staff and guests were treated to a collection of classic movie scenes when veteran actor Dan Lauria visited Eastern on Nov. 14. In addition to playing the father, Jack Arnold, on the long-running television series, "The Wonder Years," Lauria has appeared on Broadway as legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. He has also appeared in numerous other television and film roles, written and directed plays, and performed on stage during a career that has spanned more than four decades.
During a lecture in the Betty R. Tipton Room that lasted almost two hours, Lauria answered questions about his craft and shared a series of film clips with the audience to illustrate his contention that today's Hollywood movies no longer require as much acting talent as in years gone by. With today's technology and multiple cameras, modern actors have the benefit of saying their lines several times until they get it right, with editors' cuts allowing individual actors to work independently of each other. Lauria showed clips of acting legends Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant and Edward G. Robinson to demonstrate how they could mesmerize the screen with single camera "takes" that could last five minutes at a time without cutting away to another angle or scene. "Today, you will see about 20 minutes of action for every five minutes of dialog," he explained. Less of an art form and more of a business, today's movie industry is dominated by production studios owned by corporations. "When it said 'Warner Brothers,' there was Jack Warner's name on the credits. He was invested personally in the product."
Lauria told the theatre students in the audience, "If you can't see yourself doing that (delivering fast-paced dialog from memory), don't be an actor. There's a real difference between acting and filling an editing machine." He said that the days of movie actors coming from a theatre background are rapidly coming to an end, with Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt standing out as young actors who still cared about their craft. Peter Falk, Robert Mitchum, Ed O'Neill, Tyne Daly and Joe Mantegna are just some of the actors that Lauria indicated he has had the pleasure of working with.