Break a Leg

Informant AN is a student at USC in the cinema arts school, so she knows a lot of cinema traditions.

AN: “In theater you are not supposed to tell the actors ‘good luck’ because that will bring bad luck. Instead, you’re supposed to say break a leg. I was told this was because people believe that if you say good luck, there are evil spirits in the theater that would do everything they can to bring about bad luck, like not functioning props, or something forgetting their lines or something like that. Instead, break a leg is used because it means you’re trying to tell the actor to work so hard and do so well that they break the legs of the stage.”

Thoughts: To me this sounds like a self fulfilling prophecy. If the actors think that someone saying good luck to them will bring about bad luck, and then someone says good luck to them, they will freak out and start getting nervous and stuff. This nervousness will cause them to not perform as well as they could and essentially bring “bad luck”. However, it’s still fun to learn about these small little taboo words that can’t be spoken as an actor.