The article ‘Actor and the Director’, gave me a lot of insight upon their relationship. The article starts with the question – ‘How much does the film actor need to know about the work of the film director?’
I, for one, think the relationship goes both ways. As much as the actor’s performance represents the outcome and success of the film, the way he is directed also shows him in a certain light – good or bad. Hence, I believe that the actor should have complete knowledge of the techniques, camera angles, focus and other things that the director is working with. I, like Mackendrick, do not agree with Antonioni’s believe – “An actor does not need to understand, he needs to be.”
A few years back, a Bollywood fim was sued by the lead actress as she claimed that she had been shot horribly, in very unflattery light, which would taint her future job prospects. The director suffered a great deal due to this claim as it became hard for him to hire a good actor to play his roles in subsequent projects.
Also, I think an actor can perform his task better, and faster, if he is already aware of what exactly the director is focusing on and where the camera will capture his movements from. He can give you his best angles and expressions when he knows his face is the focus or he can use exceptional body language to get across the same points in long-shots. It really can be imperative for him to know, to put his best foot forward.
An example used in the article was Actors being compared to trained atheletes. Again, I have to disagree with the way the comparison is made. Even an athelete to perform his best must be aware of things in his surroundings like the temperature, the terrain, the amount of oxygen in the air! He does depend on these thing to enable better performance.
Having said that, I realize we do not live in the perfect world where everyone shares the same work ethics. It is completely possible that a new actor may be over-whelmed by all the knowledge or an experienced one may want to interfere in the director’s work. Harmony is what we seek at the end and luckily, we get to choose who we want to work with!