Character Building Tips for Actors

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The primary goal of an actor is to bring a character to life. With that said, every actor knows that this is a difficult task that requires the right approach and practice to complete.

Character development was first established during the early stages of theater. It was Constantin Stanislavski who developed the Stanislavski’s sytem way back in 1911–1916, and since then, actors have been using the concept to portray a character’s emotion whether on stage or in front of a camera.

Professional actors know that the Stanislavski’s system is associated with method acting. Basically, both ideas stem from a series of approaches with an overall aim to develop a genuine performance. It encourages actors to dive into their characters and get lost in the dialogue itself. This information may seem a bit too much for rookie actors, but do know that these skills are essential when it comes to establishing yourself in the industry. After all, the acting business is more than just looking good for the camera.

To help you with your character building, this article has taken a few notes from both the Stanislavski’s system and method acting. Professional and rookie actors may learn from these tips on how to approach a script, get into character, and deliver the right performance.

1. Create your own acting technique

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It is important for actors to develop their own acting technique. To get you started, take note of the following pointers:

  • Train. Developing your own acting technique requires an in-depth knowledge of the field. You can always get professional training by signing up in acting classes or hiring a coach to help you. Professional acting coaches help actors when it comes to bringing out their emotions. They also provide an opportunity for the actor to discover their strengths and gauge on them.
  • Internalize the character. When it comes to character building, it is important to not just focus on the character’s story but on how they operate in their world and interact with other characters as well.
  • Determine your character’s attitude and motivation. Based on the script written, assess how your character would react if placed in a certain position, then develop a method that allows you to trigger particular emotions for various situations. This allows actors to quickly get into character for each scene.

2. Observe real-life individuals

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Scriptwriters will admit that they gain inspiration from real-life individuals when it comes to creating characters. So take for example your role is that of a barista, try to visit a café and observe how a barista acts. You may even go as far as trying the job out for yourself to know their emotions before and after work hours. If you do not have the time, try to sit down and interview one. Make sure to take down notes and ask the right questions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • What is the toughest part about the job?
  • What is the best part about the job?
  • How do you unwind at the end of the day?
  • Why did you choose this job in the first place?

Conducting a proper research will give you material to work on, so don’t be afraid to add more questions to the suggestions made above.

3. Do not be afraid of taking risks

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Leonardo DiCaprio happens to be one of the best method actors in the business, and his recent Oscar win has only further solidified that title. One thing that Leo does to make him really lose himself in a role is to experiment every aspect of his character. So do not hesitate to do the same to know how the character would react if placed in different physically and mentally draining situations.

Try not to forget that embodying your character includes the way you speak your lines. So make sure that you understand and internalize each scene and the emotions needed for it.

4. Develop a sense of control

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One of the biggest mistakes an actor makes is the tendency to exert too much emotion. Professional actors are often trained on how to develop a sense of control to avoid doing so. Remember that mind-blowing performances exhibit just the right amount thrill, flamboyance, and feelings—enough to convince audiences that you are not just acting but telling someone else’s story.

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