On February 15, 2011, The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute was honored to host acclaimed actress Karen Allen for a StrasbergTALK. Best known for her role as “Marion” in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, LSTFI alumna Karen has had a extensive career spanning film and television. In this exclusive talk and Q&A session for current students, Karen discusses how she first came to her career as an actress and her path to studying at LSTFI. She goes on to explain how use employs Method Acting in her work and how valuable The Method has proven to be for her.
In answering questions from our current students, Karen offers advice on getting started in the industry and a practical, firsthand perspective on working in film. She shares numerous anecdotes from her own life and experience in the world of acting, working on both screen and stage. “I have to say the Strasberg Institute, as an actor, had the most profound effect on me,” she shares. “And I would say the tools that I learned studying here have been the most valuable tools that I, to this day, bring to the work – both in the theatre and in film.”
Finding Your Process
Until booking her first real gig, Karen was a student at LSTFI. She recalls how she found the audition for John Landis’ Animal House on a flyer posted on the bulletin board here at The Institute. A pivotal moment for her career, she went on to book the role and make her film debut. Before working on Animal House, Karen had been part of an experimental theatre group. She found working on camera to be drastic change and learned on her feet for much of the project. For Karen, relaxation became the basis of her work. “From relaxation comes everything else: imagination, creativity, freedom. Relaxation is the ground.”
A key takeaway for aspiring actors is Karen’s insistence on discovering your own individual process. She shares how, after working with Spielberg on Indiana Jones, she left the feeling lost and unmotivated. Ultimately, she realized the importance of being self-motivated and finding inspiration from within. “I try to think of myself as a storyteller,” she says. “There is something about the profession of storyteller that relaxes me.”
“The joy is in the collaboration. The joy is in working with others. And the joy is waiting for the right opportunities for you to do that.”-Karen Allen, on working as an actor
As a technique, Method Acting allows actors to explore not only their characters but themselves. Inherently customized to each actor’s own life and experiences, Lee Strasberg’s acting exercises offer the perfect toolbox for artists to draw from and develop their own unique craft.