Mia Wasikowska earned acclaim for her intense performance in the HBO series “In Treatment.”
She plays the title role in the new “Alice in Wonderland,” and notes that at age 20 she is still fairly new to acting:
“I was at dance school doing about 35 hours practice a week until I was 14. Then ballet started to grate – the whole idea of trying to attain perfection started to ruin the experience, so I decided to try another type of performance.”
From article Mia Wasikowska: My adventures in Tim Burton’s Wonderland.
Excellence can be fueled by perfectionism
Linda Kreger Silverman, PhD, Director of the Gifted Development Center, says “Excellence is the hard-won prize of those whose zeal and dedication are fueled by the drive to attain perfection, as they envision it.”
But that drive can affect others – as well as those who experience it.
Director Jane Campion said about working with Nicole Kidman [see profile]: “She can be quite murderously challenging in her perfectionism. Take Twenty: ‘Are you sure that’s good enough?’ We’re going, [wearily] ‘Yeah.’ ”
A vice and an asset
Emmy Rossum says that for her, being prepared for a role is crucial: “It’s not about control but perfectionism – my biggest vice and one of my biggest assets.” [photo from "The Phantom of the Opera"]
That is a perspective shared by many other talented people.
Michelle Pfeiffer has commented, “I’m a perfectionist, so I can drive myself mad – and other people, too. At the same time, I think that’s one of the reasons I’m successful. Because I really care about what I do. I really want it to be right, and I want it to be good, and I don’t quit until I have to.”
A number of talented and accomplished actors and other creative people are energized – or burdened – by this drive. Jennifer Connelly has admitted, “I am an obsessive-compulsive and a perfectionist. I don’t say it with pride.”
And Bridget Fonda has said, “I’m afraid of making a mistake. I’m pretty neurotic about it.”
“No, I’m a greatist.”
It’s also a matter of how you think of it.
Director James Cameron refutes being labeled as a perfectionist: “No, I’m a greatist. I only want to do it until it’s great.”
But a drive to be perfect can be an obsessive emotional force that helps fuel insecurity and dissatisfaction with your work, and undermines healthy self esteem.
Jane Fonda – in her memoir My Life So Far – admits to suffering from a destructive aspect: “Because I believed that to be loved I had to be perfect, I moved ‘out of myself’ – my body – early on and have spent much of my life searching to come home… to be embodied.”
So it’s a matter of balance, of using this need to “make it great” to refine yourself, your talents and your work, without being overwhelmed or undermined by it.
Related book: When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping With Perfectionism, by Martin M. Antony, Ph.D and Richard P. Swinson, MD.
Here is a podcast interview with Dr. Antony [source page] by Deborah Harper, President of Psychjourney.