Picks and Pans Review:

updated 11/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

SECRETS OF HOLLYWOOD'S TOP ACTING TEACHER She taught Brad Pitt the power of using props, and her students have bagged two of the last three Best Actress Oscars. Ivana Chubbuck, 50, the reigning queen of Hollywood acting teachers, explains her technique—which adds elements of behavioral psychology to the Method approach—in her new book, The Power of the Actor. She reflects on some top pupils.

CBARLIZE THERON She came to me early on [in her career]. She's incredibly hardworking. She would ask for double the work in class and for the most challenging scenes. In my class Charlize learned that murderers feel they are righteous. You can see it in her work in Monster.

BRAD PITT Before he was famous, he'd work three jobs so he could afford class. Brad would ask me to coach him on three lines. He learned the value of using objects to communicate without words. In Ocean's Eleven he was playing a con man, so his character was always eating the freebie shrimp that are all over Las Vegas. He was beating the system.

HALLE HERRY Before Monster's Ball no one believed anyone this beautiful could understand the character's pain. I helped Halle prepare to convince the director she could do it. Her character is in denial. We decided to have her drinking out of little airplane bottles of whiskey so she could tell herself, "I don't drink that much."


In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind he used one of my principal ideas—the actor must identify the objective of the character. He understood his character's desire for this relationship, so he could show us his pain.

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