The most inspiring documentaries about acting

Aug. 16, 2021

They are bodies, minds, and voices that change according to the character they portray.

For some of them, the mission is to make people laugh. For others, it is to inhabit fictional lives to bring a new story to life.

In this list, Guidedoc presents eight documentaries - available to watch online in our catalog - that undress the person behind the character and reveal the world behind the staging of a play.

What are the best documentaries on acting?



Actors of the theater company Mummenschanz wave their hands on the stage

Mummenschanz is a theater company like no other.

Using only body language and the help of endless props, the actors of this artistic acting collective bring to life plays that have thrilled hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

This documentary follows the group on their 2017 European tour.


The Clown´s Impression of St. Petersburg


Robert Gorodetsky smiles dressed as a clown

Robert Gorodetsky is one of the most recognized clowns in the world. He was the clerk of "Blue Canary", a number commonly played by other clowns worldwide.

A native of St. Petersburg, a city where he still lives in his 70s, Gorodetsky is shown in this documentary as an ambivalent being, both on his most casual and humorous side, as in his most human shadows.

The film by director Vasiliy Kovalevskiy makes a portrait of this curious man through the places he usually visits in a city as multifaceted as our protagonist.




Portuguese actor João Carlos Castanha talks to a friend

This documentary takes us to the mundane places and seemingly insignificant moments of the 52-year-old Portuguese actor João Carlos Castanha. Castanha is gay and lives with his mother in a house of decadent atmosphere.

When he does not interpret stereotypes in audiovisual productions in his country, Castanha is also a cross-dresser artist during the night.

Used to inhabit the skin of hundreds of characters, in this Berlinale documentary, Castanha becomes a kind of chameleon that plays with the concept of interpretation, where real-life problems and those of fiction are mixed in a fascinating film experience.


Double Happiness


Two Chinese actors ride a motocycle  in the documentary Double Happiness

Mixing topics as dissimilar as urban architecture and performative art, this documentary makes visible the case of a small Swiss village that was replicated almost exactly in Guandong, China, one of the dreamy residential villas for the rich that swarm in that country.

If what you read sounds completely not related to the subject of acting, you will be relieved to know that, in order to explore the theme of the "double", the director of the documentary incorporates the participation of actors in fictitious scenes with characters that reveal the deepest yearnings of the new Chinese middle class.

In Character


Thirteen Chinese actors play their characters in the documentary In Character

In this creative documentary, filmmaker Tracy Dong casts a group of actors who bring to life characters from the era of the Cultural Revolution, which occurred during the 1950s in China under the rule of Mao Zedong

In this improvisational device, thirteen actors play ordinary people living together in a weapon factory until one of them threatens to defect.


Break Through


Letters in yellow and white stand as the logo of the documentary Break Through

A theater group made up of American theater students faces the challenge of making a piece that draws attention to the struggle for the rights of the LGTBI community.

The film documents the pre-staging essays and allows the group members to comment on their thoughts and emotions about the particularity of collaborating with social revindication through art.

Among the characters are Gabrielle, the director of the piece, who has just told her parents about her bisexuality, and Alex, the author of the play.


The Dreamed Ones


An actor and an actress smoke and talk in the documentary The Dreamed Ones

In this documentary premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, two actors play poets Anja Plaschg and Laurence Rupp, who began a difficult love affair in post-war Vienna.

The film not only makes the impressive love story of Plaschg and Rupp visible but also observes the two actors in the moments when they are out of character, as they drink coffee, walk in the studio corridors where they read the lovers' letters and talk about their hobbies.

Remembering Leonard Nimoy


The actor Leonard Nimoy plays Doctor Spock in Star Trek

With a more classical and narrative approach, this biographic documentary is an intimate portrait of the famous actor Leonard Nimoy, known for playing the role of Dr. Spock in the famous TV series Star Trek.

Using home video footage and interviews with family and friends, filmmakers David Knight and Julie Nimoy - Leonard's daughter - unveil the more intimate side of this prolific and award-winning American actor.


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