Actor is the second album by musician St. Vincent, released by 4AD on May 4, 2009, in the United Kingdom and a day later in the United States. The first single released was "Actor out of Work" that April. Annie Clark was influenced by scores to films by Disney and Woody Allen. To prevent writer's block, Clark watched films without the sound and composed music for her favorite scenes. After arranging the music using GarageBand, she then wrote lyrics and added gentle vocal melodies.
The music video for "Actor out of Work" was premiered April 10, 2009 on Spinner. In it, Clark auditions a series of actors who begin sobbing in front of her. The video for "Laughing with a Mouth of Blood" features Clark with comedy duo ThunderAnt as owners of a feminist bookstore.
The album received wide critical acclaim. In the 2009 Pazz & Jop albums survey, Actor ranked twelfth, and most of the songs on it received mentions for the singles survey.Pitchfork Media gave the album an 8.5/10 rating and a "Best New Music" tag, praising the concept and describing the sound as "melodic and controlled, conjuring abrasive textures that nevertheless have a clean, meticulous quality that complements her immaculate arrangements." It later placed Actor number 13 on its year-end list of albums, and "Actor out of Work" ranked number 52 on its list of the year's top tracks. Pitchfork included "The Strangers" at number 492 on its list of the top tracks of the 2000s.
The AV Club's review called the album a departure from St. Vincent's debut, noting an absence of "the coy, conventional pop winks of Marry Me; even Actor 's lovelier moments come tinged with down-the-rabbit-hole danger." Clark has "found her own voice—and it's one you wouldn't want reading your kids any bedtime stories."
Other reviewers, such as Entertainment Weekly and AllMusic, praised the album's contrast of melodic pop and distorted guitars with dark lyrics. PopMatters listed Actor number 26 on its list of the year's best albums.