Larry Moss’ “The Intent to Live” is the Modern Day Bible for Every Actor and Director


When I was a high school student I was made aware of this thing called “theatre” when our drama class went on an excursion to see “Blood Will Have Blood”  directed by John Sheedy and performed by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts third year acting students. On the bus back to school, my friend said to my dazzled self, “You know, we could do that. Why not?” “Yeah” I said, “why not?”

*Side note: I still remember approaching the drama teacher at lunch in year nine (after hearing how much fun drama class was and how it was an “easy A”) asking her if it was too late to switch electives. Imagine where we’d be if I had continued to eat my fruit rollup instead of approach this stranger? Universe, you KILL ME.

After the devastatingly and deliciously life changing experience of seeing that show, I went home and googled “acting” because thats what you do when you wanna know about a thing okaaay. I came across the youtube video “Acting Coach Larry Moss” and my little mind imploded. I had never heard anyone talk about acting in that way. Larry Moss became an icon for me. His message “fall in love with the writers” guided and motivated me, like a dog with a sausage being dangled above its nose, through high school as I devoured classics that had me feeling less isolated.

Years later: drama school, third year. Assignment: pick a theatre practitioner and talk about their techniques in front of the class. Don’t forget the slideshow and fake enthusiasm. Ok ,Larry Moss, time to shine. All went well until question time at the end when my lecturer asks me, “and have you read his book?” Well, shit. No I have not. Why haven’t I? Excuses, excuses.

Further down the track: breaking news. Larry Moss is touring Australia to teach a four day master class. Fan girl moment. Can I afford to do it? Most definitely not. Can I afford to audit it? I most certainly can make that work. Shit! I guess it’s time to read that book.

I don’t even know why I’ve chosen to write about this book because how the heck am I supposed to write about this book? I know I say it a lot (and it’s a good thing that this happens frequently) but will you believe me when I say this book changed my life? “The Intent to Live” by Larry Moss is not just a bible for actors, it is a means to a further appreciation of the excellent performances we see on screen and in the theatre. So much work, preparation and genius goes straight over our heads when we watch good acting (which is the intention of good acting: to not see the acting). This book opens your eyes to the genius. If you have the slightest interest in film, performance or any admiration for art you will revel in and benefit from this book.

One of its finest features are the real life examples. That’s what ya really need to understand something: case studies. Moss gives an abundant amount of examples from his own coaching experience as well as his own deductions, analysis, and, occasionally, what he’s heard on the grapevine, from various other films and shows. Watching a movie and then going back to see what Moss wrote about it in his book is where I’m currently getting my kicks.

Hot tip! This book is also fantastic for teachers or any person needing to run a drama or team building workshop. Moss lays out some fantastic exercises along the way as well as all together at the end for easy reference.

As well as an A+++ list of movies to see (including this one), plays and books to read and subjects to research, this book left me with the tools I can use daily to advance myself as an actor. These are things I can do at home or out and about by myself. No need to fork out a small fortune for classes, no need to have a disposable network of actor friends to practice with, no room for excuses. You can work on this right now with what you already have. Gah! In an industry that tends to sell you the idea that you, your education nor your experience are not enough; that you’ll need to pay a butt tonne of money for more, more, MORE… this should be music to any actors earholes.

Above all else, this book reawakened my obsession. I’m starting to feel like I’m back in the club. My mind has shifted back to curiosity being its default. I’m people watching again. I’m watching great movies again. I don’t get bored and here’s why-

“I personally don’t understand any actor who ever gets bored. There is so much to learn, to see, to understand, and to give to the audience, and there is so much to learn about this amazing physical body that we have been blessed with that helps us reveal the human condition. How Can we ever be bored?” -Larry Moss

Thank you Larry Moss you absolute GIFT of a man.



Featured photo by All Bong on Unsplash


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