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The Actor

Actors play roles. They pretend for a living. And while the role they play originates in the fertile brain of a writer, is then interpreted by a director, and has to be adjusted to the overall concept of a film, in practice the best actors are truly the co-creators of the characters we finally see on the screen. They strive to become a fictional person in manner and motivation, but they often undertake extensive independent research into the life of the character (often digging beyond the script into what is referred to as the "back story"), and draw upon personal emotional memories in a quest for bone-deep authenticity. (An actor who claims to understand a character more deeply than the director or even the screenwriter is not necessarily exaggerating.) The distinction usually drawn between stage and screen acting is one of scale: theater performances have to be projected to the audience over a distance, while film acting has to look authentic even in microscopic close-up. An actor working in movies faces the additional challenge of maintaining these hard-won real-life textures in a highly technical, mechanized medium, in which body language and even line readings have to be coordinated with camera movements and anticipated editing rhythms. Under the circumstances, great acting can seem magical, a triumph over daunting odds.


Samantha Mathis stars as Lisa Morrison, a gifted young writer whose graduate work under celebrated author-teacher Ruth Steiner (Linda Lavin) leads to her rapid rise in the literary world, in "Collected Stories," the second production in the acclaimed new drama series PBS Hollywood Presents.

An accomplished film, theater and television actress, Mathis made her Los Angeles stage debut in Gil Cates' 1999 Geffen Playhouse production of Collected Stories, starring with Linda Lavin.

A native of New York City, now residing in Los Angeles, Mathis has crafted an impressive acting career since making her professional debut at the age of 16. She most recently starred on the big screen opposite Gretchen Mol, Tom Everett Scott and Matthew Settle in Lions Gate's Attraction, and opposite William Hurt, Lynn Redgrave and Harry Connick, Jr. in The Simian Line. She was also recently seen on television in TNT's July 2001 epic miniseries The Mists of Avalon, in which she starred with Anjelica Huston, Joan Allen and Julianna Margulies. 

Prior to that, Mathis starred opposite Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon in the critically acclaimed feature film version of American Psycho.  Her other feature film credits include starring roles in Broken Arrow, The American President, How to Make An American Quilt, Jack and Sarah, Little Women, Pump Up the Volume, This is My Life, The Thing Called Love and The Music of Chance.

In addition to Collected Stories, her stage credits include Fortin Bras at the Signature Theater in New York.


Samantha Mathis
Samantha Mathis


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