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When Actors Do That Weird Eye Switching Thing

For years now I’ve been noticing actors doing the weird eye switching thing and wondering what’s wrong with me.

Like, they couldn’t be doing that deliberately, right? Rapidly switching back and forth between left eye and right eye must be some sort of natural reaction when two people are face to face, or perhaps it happens during an emotionally charged moment and the brain just sort of tweaks out. I must do it myself then and just don’t know it because it’s not like I can see my own eyeballs, yeah?

Nope! Actors are doing it on purpose … and now that you’re reading this, prepare to notice it ALL THE TIME (that’s the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, baby).

Apparently actors do it to purposefully draw attention to their eyes. As if they aren’t big enough attention whores, now they’re baiting us to getting lost in their eyes!

Funny enough, a bunch of acting coaches literally say to do the opposite for … reasons. Yet plenty of A-list talent like Leo, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jennifer Aniston do it all the time:

Inexperienced actors often look shifty-eyed, as they move back and forth between another actor’s two eyes. Depending on the tightness of the shot, this may not be an issue. However, you should be very careful if the shot is extremely close and intense. By focusing on the downstage eye (the one closer to the camera), your performance will have more stillness, which both directors and audiences prefer to the shifty-eyed look.

So there you have it, folks. The lowdown on the twitchy eye thing. I may never be able to look an actor in the eyes on screen again.

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