"Irons’ performance is unquestionably a pleasure to watch"

An Actor Prepares (Russian: Работа актера над собой) is interestingly the first in a series of books on acting written by Konstantin Stanislavski. Stanislavski was a seminal Russian theatre practitioner, who was also widely recognised for being an ‘outstanding character actor.’

Jeremy Irons and Jack Huston play an estranged father and son forced to embark on a road trip together. An Actor Prepares leads you to ask the questions ‘is each fading Hollywood idol, a salacious, objectionable alcoholic?’ And does every road movie hold colourful characters? I think with an air of confidence I can answer “yes.”

Jeremy Irons is the idol and Jack Huston is Adam, his estranged son. Atticus (Irons) experiences a heart attack just at the point where he is given a lifetime achievement award, and he and Adam, although with some reservation are brought together because Atticus is not in a fit state to fly to his daughter’s (Mamie Gummer) wedding, Adam sets out on a road trip with him.

I would say that Irons is having a lot of fun with this role, Atticus has a fierce sex drive, and is non-perplexed to bare his butt in front of his son. He is an Oscar-winner, with an impressive portfolio of work behind him. At this time he is gearing himself up for his next role, in a film about God, despite Satan being more fitting.

The continually on-the-edge Adam is an unsuccessful documentary filmmaker who lectures in feminism at university. We see him take calls from an urologist, which his wife (Megalyn Echikunwoke) suspects relates to him having a vasectomy. 

The road trip has barely gotten underway before Atticus hijacks the bus they’re travelling in, whereupon a whole series of events commence. These comprise of a meeting with two pagans and a shaman (Will Patton); an ungainly reconciliation with an ex; and Atticus slumming it in a prison cell overnight with his son, Adam.

Clark and Thomas Moffett co-wrote the screenplay, who endeavour to draw out most of the humour from Atticus’ unrelenting indulgences. It does, however, feel formulaic. With that said, Irons’ performance is unquestionably a pleasure to watch and Huston is a charm, although not given a complete opportunity to show off what he is capable of.