It looks like Jaques Tati‘s Playtime is having a mini theatrical revival (in LA and San Francisco, at least). That inspired me to upload a clip I pulled many years back to show my animation students as an example of “business” because it includes just about every cliched piece of business imaginable in one scene.
For the non-actors and non-animators out there, “business” is any small physical action a character does. Usually it simply serves to keep things alive and realistic, but sometimes it gives additional insight into the character. Here. Just listen to Bryan Cranston talk about a piece of business he devised for his character in Saving Private Ryan:
OK, here’s Cranston’s business-free (and tea-free) scene from Saving Private Ryan:
And then be on the lookout for more great examples of business, and let me know when you find them!
[Update: 8/18/2014] I was just reminded of this amazing bit of business performed by Peter Fonda in Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey: