circa 1935:  American actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997), star of 'It's a Wonderful Life', 'Rear Window' and 'Vertigo'.  (Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
James Stewart's Job In Rear Window And Vertigo Was To 'Do Nothing Well'
From a movie star to a well-chosen ensemble cast, you might think actors are the star of the show when it comes to movies, but according to Alfred Hitchcock, the opposite is true. The legendary filmmaker famously believed that actors were little more than visual props and commended James Stewart’s ability to “do nothing well” on camera.
Hitchcock and Stewart collaborated on two films, “Rear Window” and “Vertigo,” both of which required Stewart to do a whole lot of nothing. As Hitchcock explained, "When a film has been properly staged, it isn't necessary to rely upon the player's virtuosity or personality for tension and dramatic effects […] the chief requisite for an actor is the ability to do nothing well.”
Hitchcock believed, actors should be "utilized and wholly integrated into the picture by the director and the camera." Hitchcock’s opinions are mirrored by the filmmaker Francois Truffaut who said Stewart wasn't "required to emote" and that "he simply looks […] and then you show the viewer what he's looking at," allowing them to fill in the emotive gap.