Timothy Busfield Taught Me Some Things About Acting


When your on set with an actor like Timothy Busfield, and he has some advice on acting… you better listen.


Timothy Busfield Cast Me In A Movie


I once had the good luck to work with Timothy Busfield while filming a Lifetime movie called “Man-eater”. My character was named “Rio”. I had about four lines. So, yes. I was a glorified extra. Set dressing. But I was going to gain my AFTRA eligibility from this project, so I was dancing in my private trailer. I took indulgent pictures of myself laying around my private trailer. Did I mention I had a private trailer?


The Actors Were So Nice, I Was SO Nervous


Eventually I was shuffled down to set where Sarah Chalke introduced herself, stretching a long, tan arm in my direction. That was weird and wonderful. She shook my hand and I almost blurted out “Your hands are unnaturally soft!” I did not, thankfully.


Some grip or AD told me where to sit, and I did. I talked with Marla Sokoloff (who I just adored in the 90’s cult classic “Sugar and Spice. She’s quirky and fantastic. I tried very hard to sound like this was all very normal for me. None of it was. Clearly. I felt completely conspicuous; Like the dorky kid at a table full of cheerleaders. (Just keep your head down and try to hide your braces, you feel me?)


Timothy Busfield Sat With The Actors – He Made Us Feel Important


Then Timothy Busfield, gracious man, asked me if I wanted to come sit and watch the filming awhile. I did. Very much. I stood and watched him coach the talent, watched the way the shots were composed. Maybe he felt that I was nervous and wanted me to watch the process. Maybe he was just kind. I don’t know. All I’m sure about is that I was young and still trying to find my voice as a young actress.


At lunch guess who decided to sit with the actors? That’s right, Timothy Busfield. I won’t ever forget that moment. Mr. Busfield sat by me and another young actor who came from the Phoenix Casting Call. We both had small roles, and he easily could have dismissed us. Instead he chose to spend time with us, talk to us about the movie and about acting in general.


Acting Advice From Timothy Busfield


One of the things Tim said that was particularly useful to me, and I love to share it with my students.

“Do theater. Always go back to it. It gets the bad out.” – Timothy Busfield

Mr. Busfield explained that theater forces you into the immediate. It catapults you into real, active listening. There are no re-takes, no second attempts. The scene either floated or it sank. You either brought the writer to life, or you didn’t.

It’s great advice. BUT. Not everyone has the time to commit to a play. For an equity theater, you’re looking at a rehearsal schedule of about 8 hours a day (Tuesday through Sunday). Then you do 8 shows a week until the end of the run. It’s an enormous commitment.


Get Into A Scene Study Master Class


Enter the idea of Master Class. A master scene study class like the one my husband Matthew Dearing teaches will provide all the opportunity to get the bad out without the super long time commitment. Remember everyone that training has got to be your focus. Not trying to look cool on TV or social media. I will be forever grateful for the time spent with such an amazing actor and director. My only hope is that my experience and his gracious advice now can go on to serve others actors coming up.



“Being cool is not exactly at the top of my list.” – Timothy Busfield

Leeann Dearing


Actress, entrepreneur and proud homeschool mom. Co-founder of the mom-centric performance and viral video company Leeann & Michelle.