Why We Need to Understand Cinema’s “Pure Clown”

To embrace the work of clowning is to embrace the freedom within our craft.

Jonathan Majors has joined the world of superheroes, becoming the new central villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang the Conqueror. We’ve seen him before in the MCU in the role. His brief appearance as the One who dwells in Loki left us wondering and wanting.

The energy Majors brings to the screen is remarkable.

“It’s become a cliché over the decades to compare someone to a young Marlon Brando, but Jonathan has that,” director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) told the New York Times.

Maybe it’s the charisma or sense of humanity that Majors brings to each of his characters, grounding them in a near reality that few actors can do, or maybe it’s his carefully crafted approach to the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale which has often disappeared in the cinema, but is gradually being noticed.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”Credit: A24

Like Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Jonathan Majors understands the art of clowning. Studying with Christopher Bayes, one of Yale’s physical acting managers, Majors learned to step out of the “social body” to tap into a character’s playfulness and boldness. He told the New York Times about it.

Hollywood has long struggled to provide good roles for black actors, often confining them to stereotypes rather than fully realized characters. Often, black actors are reduced to the comic relief of a whitewash or collateral damage in action and horror films. Majors offers something Hollywood lacks by bringing comfort with the clown, which means he finds solace in the quiet chaos of being able to portray a wide range of well-written characters.

“The clown is the unsocialized self,” Major Bayes recalls. “He is the person to whom we have never said no. How would you be in your body if you had never been told “no” or “shut up” or “stay seated” or “you are too much of this and not enough of that?”

Bayes directed Majors in the Commedia Project, which Yale described as his “experimental space for taking the temperature of the world, the society we live in, and ourselves.”

The clown is an artist who molds himself to the role he has chosen to play. Each character is different, yet true to the story, adding layers of depth and meaning that pique audiences’ curiosity and keep them coming back to uncover more of the character’s secrets. Majors did it through her gender roles in Lovecraft Country, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and Marvel Loki.

Whether the character is a fool or a king, Majors highlights the qualities of both in every character he chooses to play, asking us to look at him through a lens that has always existed for actors but excluded people. color for too long.

Acting is a tool used to entertain and surprise the audience, actors, crew and oneself. It’s about creating a memorable performance that touches people in a specific way. Majors does not exclude the clown from his dramatic performances for his very important and more common role in the superhero genre. What matters to actors and filmmakers alike is that we draw audiences into the world we’ve created.

Jonathan Majors on Embracing
“Lovecraft Country”Credit: Television distribution Warner Bros.

As filmmakers, we should learn to embrace the “pure clowning” of our art. What would we create if we had never heard the mumbled word “no”? Would we let go of judgment of ourselves and what we think others want?

To embrace clowning is to embrace creative freedom and confidence in your ability to create something interesting and entertaining. There should be something exciting about every project you do, even if you look back on it years later with some wisdom and understand where the flaws in the project are. Filmmaking should be passionate, inspiring and allow us to look inside the creative mind in the current state of the world.

If you have the chance to create something meaningful for yourself, then seize it without fear.

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