Help...need info on morality and acting


Okay, my brother is an theater major and he just got his first big part, he’s the title character. I was happy for him, really glad he got this opportunity. Then today he told me that he has to smoke for a scene. He said it was smoking but “not really smoking” as he is getting it in his mouth, but not actually inhaling it. (He told me first, hasn’t told Mom or Dad yet. ) I wasn’t happy. I didn’t condemn him or anything, I kept telling him, “it doesn’t have to be lit, does it?” “You don’t have to actually put it in your mouth, do you?” and he said yes, he does, part of what he has to do as an actor is to blow the smoke in somebody’s face for a “guy time smoking scene”. I’m still not happy. (I had already made plans to see it with a wonderful guy who’s asthmatic…another reason why I’m not happy. And yes, apparently smoking is allowed in this indoor theater.)

So, in an effort to tell him I still have serious misgivings about his smoking scene, I compared it to other stuff some actors do as part of their job. Like, sometimes their lines call for them to take God’s name in vain, or like in those R rated movies the actors…um… Anyway, this didn’t convince him, he said if you’re an actor, you’re not being yourself, you’re being the character for the role and so it’s not a sin since it’s the character doing it. I maintain that it is still a sin, and I told him, Show me where the church officially says you can do that as an actor. He said, show me where it says it’s still a sin.

So, I’m not sure where to look it up in the Catcheism, but please, I could use some help here…I have the Catechism, I also have the Bible (obviously) or I can message him the link via Facebook…I just need an obvious authority he can see for himself and not just what is relayed second hand, please :o

Thank you ever so much!


I don’t think it’s sinful - you mean a normal cigarette, not a joint, right? If he isn’t doing it for his own enjoyment, at the risk of getting addicted, but he simply plays a smoking character, then I think it’s not that bad. I obviously wouldn’t be happy if I had a girlfriend and she wanted to kiss someone for a scene claiming it to be “just acting” and “not being herself but a character”, but I think this excuse does work with a cigarette.


Cigarette smoking is not a sin.


Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smoking or using tobacco in another form is not of itself sinful. Same thing applies as with food, wine, liquor, sweets - we can enjoy things, but, must practice MODERATION in these things.

A bit off topic, but, I do find it interesting that modern society, TV, education, etc. spends so much time convincing even little kids that smoking a cigarette is a sin, yet sinful things are a-okay :rolleyes:

Do not worry, your brother will not die or go to hell for smoking some cigarettes for a role (but, he’d better practice with a few, or he will end up “green” on stage).


I have seen arguments about actors “acting out” pre-marital sex, adultery, etc. for TV and movies, being ACTING. Watching it may be a near occasion of sin for a viewer, I suppose, and may depend on how the directors and film editors do their jobs, but the script’s point may also be to show the emotional damage that can come from sinful behavior, which would be a good lesson for viewers to take away. But this same article made the point that any blaspheming – taking the Lord’s name in vain – is an actual instance of blasphemy, and thus, hard to defend on the grounds that the actor “was just acting.”

OP, your brother should probably do some soul-searching now about where he wants to “draw his line” about nudity, acting out immoral behavior, etc. because it’ll be a lot harder when he’s got an agent pressuring him to accept this “plum role,” “break of a lifetime,” etc. I suppose it would be hard to build a career on only playing “good guys,” but one could play a “bad guy” if the script shows the negative effects of sin, not glorifying it. Tough decisions.


Smoking isn’t a sin. But Catholic actors have to have limits. If I were you, I discuss with him what he considers unacceptable (sex scenes come most to mind). I’d let the smoking thing go.


Any instance of sexual activity carried out on stage rather than pretended is an actual instance of sexual activity. In violence scenes no one dies or suffers real pain. In sexual scenes, actual things physically take place and it’s only said, “it’s not for real,” which is a poor excuse. I’m not even saying any person who genuinely believes it’s merely acting is inevitably culpable the same way as for a regular instance of fornication, but what I’m saying is that it’s materially wrong.

Smoking generally happens on stage if it’s acted, but since smoking isn’t wrong on its own but only, if it all, because of the damage it does to health - damaging your lungs, getting you addicted etc - if that damage isn’t taken for pleasure but rather to send some message, or perhaps any given constructive purpose, and there’s no risk of addiction (hardly possibly with an isolated intake) I wouldn’t really worry about it.


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