Getting into Character?

by Barry
(Ireland)

QUESTION:

I am doing a scene at the moment and I do not feel that I am in character one bit. How do I get into character?

Is it by looking at the movie, play or scene the actor is in?

I just don't know how… Any help?

ANSWER:

If you are doing a scene from a movie that was released before, the last thing you want to do when working on a character is watch what another actor did.

Why?

Because it will be very hard for you to forget how the other actor performed a specific part and how they delivered certain lines. To be in character, you got to create your own character and not be tempted to imitate another actor.

1) The first step is to do some detective work. Read the play or script several times and look for clues on what your character is all about, what motivates him, what makes him "tick", etc.

2) The second step is to start to connect with your character. A good tool is using the "as if" (ie. "what if this was happening to me", "how would it feel to go through this", etc. ) You can read more about how to act as if in this post.

3) The third step is to start filling in the blanks left by the writer. Write a bio for your character, walk around and experience life as your character, ask yourself what he would wear, how he would walk. This is where your creative imagination comes in. You can work from the inside by doing specific character exercises (if you're a method actor, for example, you may do a character private moment or a character animal exercise) or from the outside (make-up, clothing, props, body movement, accent...).

4) The last step is to put it all together. Look at this post on finding the character's energy and the use of the psychological gesture.

This is not an extensive list of everything you can do for character development work, but it's a start.

Once you're done with your scene, go watch that film and see what the other actor did. It's a fantastic tool to learn, especially if it's a talented experienced actor. You'll probably get some insight into both their process and what makes you unique as an artist.

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