Skip to content

Actor David Morse Gives Students ‘Truthful’ Tips in Masterclasses

David Morse stands in front of a class who are sitting
Actor David Morse gave two master classes at the Paramount Center as part of the Judee Wales Watson Artist-in-Residence Program on April 3, 2024. (Photo by Zubin Stillings)

Actor and Massachusetts native David Morse told Performing Arts students that truth is a primary tenet of acting in two masterclasses held Wednesday, April 3. 

The class was part of the Judee Wales Watson Artist-in-Residence Program, and was held in the Paramount. Other master classes from the series have included acting coach Susan Batson ‘64 in 2021, and Broadway director Lonny Price in 2022. 

“The concept is to bring actors and professionals to supplement what you’ve been taught by faculty,” Watson said to the class. “It’s really crossing a border. Faculty are with you now, and the other half, you’ll be on your own.”

Watson ’10 met Morse for the first time in the 1970s, when he auditioned at the Boston Repertory Theater at 17 years old, becoming the youngest cast member at the time. 

Photos by Zubin Stillings

  • Judee Wales Watson stands while shaking the hand of seated student
  • David Morse sits while speaking to students
  • Two students sit while performing a scene during the master class
  • About three dozen students sit and listen to David Morse speak
  • Two students sit and embraced while performing a scene.

Since then, Morse has starred in numerous movies, television shows, and Broadway productions – he received Emmy nominations for his role as George Washington in the 2008 HBO drama John Adams, and as Michael Tritter in House. His film credits include The Green Mile, Disturbia, and 16 Blocks, and he received a Tony nomination in 2018 for his role in The Iceman Cometh. 

During the class, Morse talked about his own acting experiences. Morse, now 70 years old, said early in his career he struggled to communicate with people, and eventually was told that he “was not as good” as he was during his debut performances. 

“I was ill-equipped socially,” Morse said. “My acting was all instinct.”

He took a complete break from acting to study under drama instructor Bill Esper in New York before making his film debut in Inside Moves in 1980. 

Morse gave students the chance to perform and discuss what they learned in class. Some of the students who performed included Alex Serino  ’24, who delivered a monologue from Sing Street. Joe Nalieth  ’24 and Alex Goldman ’24 did a scene from Pineapple Express. Their performances were a preview of what they will perform at this year’s BFA senior showcase. 

After Serino’s monologue, Morse asked him to reflect on his performance, asking him who he was, what he was doing, and who he was talking to while performing. After Serino answered the questions, Morse replied “you don’t need me at all.”

“He went on to explain how the character work and the ‘homework’ we do as actors is one of the most important tools we have,” Serino said after the class. “Overall, David sharing his personal experiences in the industry was very informative. It was also really nice to hear from someone who is successful in the industry, that you did well.”

In the class, Morse also referenced the podcast, Smartless, hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. In one episode, Bateman said that, as actors, they were “professional liars”. Morse emphasized his disagreement with this to the class and said that emotion and truth are key parts of a performance. 

“I don’t think [lying is] what most people do this for,” Morse said. “You never stop being truthful.”

(Visited 358 times, 1 visits today)