Some folks are interested enough in this topic to prompt me to write more about it.
Is the actor like the role he plays? Maybe, Maybe not. But that's not the question. The question is, does the actor become the character he's playing to the extent that he carries it off stage with him and becomes that man? The answer to that is a loud, foot stomping "NO." How long does it take the actor to get out of character once the show or the shoot is over? If you ever spent any time backstage at a professional theatre or off the camera on a movie set you wsould know that there is no time lapse at all. Backstage is peopled by crew who are busy doing things, there is usually a walk up or a walk down to get to the dressing room. There is hub bub and noise. One has to deal with it as oneself.
I have always been baffled by people's lack of sophistication about actors, even though they may be intelligent about other things. I'm thinking back over my career. I'm not Jewish, and yet for about 3 years all the roles I got were Jewish men, and they were all different from each other. I didn't play the same Jewish man for 3 years. I had a long running Off-Broadway show in which my character was gay.
Someone actually had the ignorance to say to me that I must be in the closet and not admitting to myself that I was gay or I could never have played him so convicingly.
My answer to that is another loud foot stomping "Nonsense."
If an actor suffers some emotional trauma over a role he plays it's because the story has touched some vulnerable unresolved place in himself. That's not the play's fault nor the character's fault. It's something that must be dealt with outside the theatre. But there are many moments in any play that may move the actor and in so doing add demension to the role. That is devoutly wished for. It has happened to me many times, but it does not change my real life, it simply draws from my real life.
Remember, I wrote that theatre isn't real life. Because it's scripted, one way or another. You should know that TV events like Jerry Springer and the World Wrestling Federation matches are scripted as are many other things, scripted and sometimes rehearsed. But theatre, if it's done properly resembles real life, and that's why it can grab your interest. The actors are committed to making you believe they are the people they are playing. One of the best reviews I ever got was from the Cincinnati paper after opening there in Educating Rita. The critic said "I never saw him acting."
In olden times when warring Kings wanted to talk with each other they sent a messenger into enemy lines. That messenger was given free entry to the King, without interference and when done escorted safely back to the front lines. No one would dream of killing him because of who he was or what he had to say.
An actor is a messenger. Don't confuse the messenger with the message.
Love you. DB - The Vagabond.