Sure, every actor receives compliments. Some more than others, mind you, but compliments come with the territory. A very pleasant side effect of acting.
Some come from the press (and it is always good when the press likes you--I have seen actors very unhappy when the press was raving about some of us, and barely mentioned them).
Oh, yes, the press called me absolutely charming when I played the Old Man in A Prelude to a Kiss. And they said that as Petrovin in Anastasia I was the only one of the three conspirators that came close to being likeable.
Then, of course, there are the people who come to the backstage after the play to bring flowers to a family member who is in the play, then turn to you and say how much they enjoyed your performance, though they are total strangers to you.
Not to mention people who stop you on the street a year after a performance and say, "Oh, you were in the play!"
All of that is very nice. It really is.
But the greatest compliment I ever received for my acting came from a child.
We were producing Dougly and the Magnificent Misfits in the Lair of Ebola. You probably never heard of it, because ours was the only production of that play so far.
Anyway, this is a children's play staged on another planet. The planet is suddenly experiencing winter weather in the middle of the summer. The trouble seems to come from a mythical creature named Ebola, one predicted by an ancient legend.
The Prime Minister, named Placebo, leads the planet in the fight against Ebola, but cannot find it. Finally, he gets a group of misfits, led by the hero of the play, named Dougly Uckling, to help. The misfits enter the Lair of Ebola, where the evil Ebola gives them real hell.
Finally it turns out that Placebo (the Prime Minister) is actually Ebola. He freezes Dougly in a cryogenic chamber and starts what seems to be a thousand-year rule of terror. But Dougly is transformed inside the chamber into a superhero. With the help of the other misfits, and of the audience, he overpowers Ebola and sticks him in the cryogenic chamber.
Well, I played the evil Placebo/Ebola.
Because it was a children's play, after the performance all of the cast went outside, so the children could shake our hands and ask for autographs.
Now, remember, I played "the most evil creature that ever existed". This kid, about 10 or 11, pushes his way through the crowd and comes straight to me. I smiled at him, but he said in a very deep and serious voice: "I could just kill you."
He was so serious that I made a step back. He really scared me. I put a forced smile on my face and said: "No, you couldn't." Not arguing with him, rather begging him.
Well, he scared me good. But then I thought about his reaction and realized this kid believed I was evil because, apparently, I did a good acting job portraying an evil person.
And to this day I take his comment as the best compliment I ever received.