3 TIPS TO HELP YOU GET INTO CHARACTER AND MAKE IT UNIQUE
The biggest challenge every actor will ever face is the ability to create a believable character.Anyone can memorize lines while others use creative costumes, props or special effects to bring their characters to life. The truly great actors however, separate themselves from the pack by going the extra yard and creating their characters from the inside out.
Acting basically, is the ability to become ‘someone else.' If all actors are technically accomplishing this with each role they undertake – what separates the good actors from the great ones?
To simplify things, creating character boils down to 3 basic rules of thumb:
1. COMMITMENT: This is not just about making a commitment to the film you are contracted to but to also commit to your fellow actors and the subject matter. The best actors take it a step further and challenge themselves with an internal commitment to their own character.
“Most actors don’t think about how to make their portrayals unique and specific to each role they play, but great actors do.” – Sir Laurence Olivier
2. BASE YOUR CHARACTERS ON REAL PEOPLE: Most character actors talk about spending a lot of time observing other people, and either base a character on one particular individual or piece a character together by drawing various aspects from different people.
A recent example of this was actor Daniel Day-Lewis in his Oscar-winning turn for “There Will Be Blood”. The character had already been created as a fictional one originally written by Upton Sinclair in the novel the film was based upon. To make this character his own, Day-Lewis wanted to create a manner of speaking that was unique. To do so, he imitated the speech pattern of late director, John Huston (whom he had never met but had seen interviews of) and thus made the character of Daniel Plainview more than what was written in the script.
3. FINDING ASPECTS OF YOURSELF THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE CHARACTER: Create convincing characters by combining a character model and appropriate aspects of yourself. This is not the same for everyone – as each actor brings a different life experience to bear every time they are challenged with finding the common center between themselves and their characters.
You will then find actors like the late, great Marlon Brando who needed his character experiences to be fresh each and every time. After a successful career on the stage, Brando wanted to bring that same freshness to his film personas. Later on in his career, Brando would refuse to memorize lines from a script and actually had crew members hold cue cards just out of camera sight so that he could read his lines in that manner and thereby make his personal response to the character and lines extremely fresh and honest every time.
Not everyone has the luxury of taking Drama classes or witnessing a great actor creating a character before their eyes. The challenge you should undertake the next time you’re at the cinema is to become more engaged and try to take note of those actors who are giving you a ‘real’ experience as opposed to those that look like they are just going through the motions.
Written by: Josphat Keya
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