Character Development

Body language

by Wendy Morris


I’m attempting to be natural in scene but I find it so hard in letting the character through. Never sure how to move my hands or body because it doesn’t look natural. Any feedback is welcome.


Hi Wendy,

I know how you feel. It’s a natural tendency I think for actors to move our hands a lot. It doesn’t feel natural because a lot of the time, the movements are more about either dissipating energy (like stage fright or other tension we feel) or an impulse to emphasize the text in order to substitute for the real thoughts or emotions of the character that we haven’t connected with yet. All this gesturing can often get in the way of actually finding the character (as we “fake” the character).

One thing I find really helpful is running the scene several times without moving at all. Stand, with body aligned and centered, and experience the scene without any physical movement. Eventually, you’ll feel a real impulse to move as the character, and you can start incorporating movement back in the scene. At this point, the rule would be to only move when you feel a true impulse to move as the character.

Another reason we gesture sometimes is to subconsciously dissipate the emotion from the scene, so once we discipline ourselves not to gesture and move so much, we tend to be much more vulnerable and able to experience the emotions the character is going through.

Watch a lot of movies and study how your favorite actors move Look at great actors, like Al Pacino, and you’ll notice how still they are in some of their most powerful scenes.

Hope you find this helpful

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