Getting Into Character for Actors and Actresses | Justin Powell | Skillshare

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Getting Into Character for Actors and Actresses

teacher avatar Justin Powell

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (52m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Reading the Script

    • 3. Who am I?

    • 4. Where am I?

    • 5. When am I?

    • 6. What do I want?

    • 7. What is my Obstacle?

    • 8. How do I get what I want?

    • 9. Additional Tools

    • 10. Research

    • 11. Physicality

    • 12. Relationships

    • 13. Voice

    • 14. Vulnerability

    • 15. Conclusion

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About This Class

Learning how to get into character can be a real challenge for actors and actresses. In this class you'll learn an extensive method you can use to create a fully fleshed out character. 

Throughout this course, Actor and Voice Actor Justin Powell, takes you through a step by step process to understand your character and inhabit the role so you can deliver a truthful performance. This class is excellent for beginner's as well as intermediate actors and actresses. This class will break down:

- A Method for Mining the Script for Information

- The 6 Questions Needed to Understand a Part

- Tools to Ground you in Performance

- Using Research to Understand Character

- Creating Unique Physicality

- Nuance of Relationships

- Importance of Vulnerability 

By the end of this class you will have a clear understanding and repeatable method for getting deeply into character that you can take forward on your acting journey. 

I hope you enjoy the class and if you have any questions reach out here and I will respond as soon as possible. 

Meet Your Teacher

Hello, I'm Justin Powell. I'm a Los Angeles actor and voice actor who has read far too many acting books and studied with way too many acting teachers. 

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Justin pal. I'm a Los Angeles based actor and voice actor. And this class is designed to teach you how to answer the amorphous question, How do I get into character? Now a couple of years back, I was a member of a theater company and the director of my Theater Company asked me how I get into character. I realized at that moment, I don't know how to answer this question. I mean, I understood the basics of it. You have to understand your lines through and through. You have to know the motivations of the character of try to connect them to your own inner life. But I couldn't really describe it, or at least describe it in a repeatable process. So I decided to create this class to share a technique that any actor could use to get into character. Now of course, every actor is different. Sometimes actors are better able to find the character by working on the physicality. Some actors really need to delve into the psychology of the character in order to understand them. So I'd say try out every single tool I lay out and then see what works for you. See which ones you'd like to prioritize when you go about creating character. And which ones do you think you can get to towards the tail end of the rehearsal process without further ado, let's start creating a character. 2. Reading the Script: So you've been cached in this amazing role, the role you've always dreamed of. But before you can step up on that stage or step in front of that camera and give the performance of a lifetime. There was something very important that we must do first, we have to read the script. We're not just going to read the script once though. We're gonna read the script three times back to back to back if possible. The first read. Our goal here is to embrace the story simply as a fan of storytelling, as an audience member, then we want to see what elements of the story resonate within us. Ask yourself the question, what parts of the story hit me emotionally? Which characters do I like the best? What are the themes in this story? What is the plot of the story? What are the subplots of the story? The second read. The second read is all about you. You're going to read the story all from your character's perspective. So take things personally, revel in the atmosphere of the story. In scenes where your character is not in the room, imagine they are a fly on the wall overhearing this conversation. What thoughts or feelings might arise for them as they listened to this? The takeaways you get from reading the script like this are not something that should be set in stone as a definitive trait or feeling of the character. But they are unique signposts that guide you to where your instinct wants to explore, where your curiosity lies with the character. The third read. For the third read, we want to write down any facts we discover about the world of the story, as well as facts relating to our character. So figure out what time of day it is, what year it is. Maybe there's a line in the dialogue that describes the type of clothes that everyone is wearing. Don't leap to conclusions though. Make sure that there is an actual line that dictates the fact that you write down. The, for example, if a character says nice clothes and you take that to mean that everyone is wearing suits? Well, that's quite a jump in logic. So we wanna make sure there's textual evidence for the fact that we write down in regards to your character right down anything that is said about them. In Midsummer Night's Dream. In Midsummer Night's Dream, Helena says of Crimea though she be but little. She is fierce. That's the kind of line you'd want to write down about your character. It doesn't necessarily mean that the character sees themself as fierce, but it's important to know how other people perceive them in the world. After you're done with reading the script three times, feel free to take a break from it. But we will be returning to the script throughout the rehearsal process, it's important to read the script as much as you can immerse yourself in the world of the script. It's said that Anthony Hopkins actually reads his scripts about a 100 times. He doesn't actually memorize the lines. He memorizes the entire script. Sometimes revisiting the script after a while of working on the character can lead to new insights with the character as well. So to summarize, during your first read through, read it as an audience member. During your second read through, read it from your character's perspective. During your third greed through. Write down any and all facts relating to the world and your character. Now we're gonna move on to the six actors questions we need to get into character. 3. Who am I?: Who am I? Now, this is not a deep philosophical question designed to puzzle you. It's designed for our characters so we can leave off any existential dread for now and just focus on the character before we start delving into this huge question of who am I? And important thing to remember is that we always want to relate back to the script. Remember acting as a part of a collaborative art form. Everyone who's working on the play or in the film has an artistic voice as well that they would like to lend to the story. So we always have to make sure our choices respond truthfully to the needs and intentions of the script. To make those kind of choices, we have to understand how our character fits into the story. So try to understand what the plot of the story is. What are the subplots? Who are the protagonists, who are the antagonists? Tried to figure out your characters role in the story. Are they the hero of this tail or are they the villain? I, David sniffling coward who sells out their friends? Or are they the mighty warrior fighting against the status quo? Then try to understand your characters arc throughout the story. A character arc is when a character starts in one place in the beginning of the story, but by the end of the story is transformed either emotionally, psychologically, or physically, or all three. A good example of this comes from the movie, The Godfather opportunities. And Michael Corleone starts to film out not wanting to have anything to do with his family's mafia business. But by the end of the film, we see that he has become the new dawn, the head of the crime family. So in regards to your own character, asked herself when, how and why my character changes? Do they start out as a generally good person and become evil towards the end of the script. In the beginning, are they someone who is more of a lone wolf? But by the end of the story, they realized they do need a community. Again, I'll remind you that every character must serve the story. So if your character starts out as a good guy who then becomes violent, evil by the end of the story. Well, you have to play into that bad guy mentality. Sometimes actors judge their characters. If a character does something bad, they look at them as a bad person. But an evil person rarely thinks they're evil. They have their reasons. They think they're doing good. It's our job as actors to empathize with them and see how we can logically understand and even be on board just in the play with their actions. Now asking yourself the question, who am I? Is going to be a process. We start on day one, and we're going to keep exploring it throughout the character creation process, throughout the rehearsal process. One way that we can help to identify with the inner life of the character. It's a simple trick, but it's a good one, is to start referring to the character with the personal pronoun. So for example, if I was playing Macbeth and I asked myself the question, why would Macbeth kill the king? Instead of phrasing it like that, which puts some distance between me and the character. I would phrase it like this. Why would I kill the king by using the personal pronoun I, it becomes more personal to me. I'm better able to latch onto the inner life of the character. O. In summary, always stick to the script. Understand your characters role in the story. Figure out the plot and subplots of the story. Figure out your character arc and start using the personal pronoun I. In the next video, we'll discuss how location plays a big part in your character creation as well. 4. Where am I?: Where am I? The next question we have to ask ourselves is, where am I? We all behave differently based on the location that we are in. For example, you wouldn't act the same way in a church as you would at a football game. We all interact with our environment and our physically and emotionally moved by it. Our environment influences our actions. Imagine getting out of the shower in your own room. Now imagine getting out of the shower and somehow you've been teleported to the middle of New York City, you're going to behave differently. It's not just the physical location we have to concern ourselves with. We also have to consider the environment we're in, particularly the sensory details that may be affecting us at that moment. So with each location that your character is in, ask yourself, what does my character here? What do they smell? What did they feel? A quick note on our sensory skills. That is something that as actors we should constantly be working on to develop. A lot of times the unreality of the stage or the film set we're on can be overwhelming. And now a lot of times actors have to work on a green screen where they don't have any physical objects around them to connect to. There's even a story about e and Macallan breaking down on the set of the habit. Now by set, I mean, on the green screen of the Hobbit, he started crying and saying this is not why I got into acting to act with nothing around me and look, I'm with you Syrian, That is difficult, immersing ourselves in the sensory details of the environment that are character supposed to be in good help ground us in our performance. But another thing to consider is where you are in terms of society and in terms of culture, you want to figure out what kind of society your character is living in. Are they someone who is respectable and society? Or they looked down upon, are they an outsider or are they use to this world when working on location, we also have to consider the moment before we enter a scene and the moment when we leave a scene. So consider what your character may have been doing before they arrived in the scene. If they're leaving the scene, try to consider where they might be going and what they're going to do. So to summarize, figure out the physical location that your character is in. What are the sensory details of the environment that your characters in? What's the society like? What's the culture like? So we've seen some of the nuances that location can bring to our characters. Now we have to ask ourselves a very important question to quote Dr. space-time from community. The question is not where, but when. 5. When am I?: When am I when we ask the question, when am I? It doesn't just refer to the time of day or night that are characters in. It also refers to where they are on the timeline. Does the story take place in the past, the present, or the future? If your story takes place in the past, congratulations, because he, you just unlocked a treasure trove of resources for inspiration. When you're playing a character who was in the past, you can look up documentaries, you can look at old photographs. You can find books written in that time, or books that analyze that time. You can even find music from that time to listen to. The goal of this research is to better understand the social norms, the textures you might feel during that time, the smells, you might smell. Anything that can help you understand the era that you are in. However, one of the traps that we have to watch out for when we're working with a character who is in the past, is that it can lead us to cliched acting. For example, if you're playing a cowboy, well, we've all seen cowboy films. We've all played cowboys games. So we all have a general conception of what a Cowboy is. They hold onto their belt. They say howdy partner, and so on and so on. If you just decide to act like the generalization of a cowboy, then it's going to be tougher to connect to the inner life of your character. Enacting we never want to be general, we want to be specific. A great example of specificity comes from The Godfather. When Marlon Brando played Don Corleone, he created the iconic voice that we all recognize with the godfather. He decided that the Godfather had been shot through the neck, which is why he spoke with that raspy voice. Now his choice was specific. But we've seen in many other mafia pictures, people tried to emulate that same voice for their characters, and it's always a bit lacking. They lack the specificity that Marlon Brando had, amongst other amazing qualities. Now when working on the question of when am i, we want to consider time, more specifically, want to consider the events that led up to the start of the story. So what happened in the days before this story? What happened in the months before? What happened in the years before? What built up your character? When we understand the past, it can ground our acting and it can help us to understand the needs and wants of the character in the present. If you're working in the present, they're still research you can do. For example, if your character is an animal rights activist, then start delving into animal rights research. Try understanding what that lifestyle is like your characters in the future. That's probably a conversation you're going to want to have with the director or the writer of the film. When people make new worlds, they sometimes have different rules that are enacted throughout the world. Those rules can impact your character. So in summary, figure out where on the timeline you are, the past, the present, or the future. Avoid cliches. Go with specificity. Understand the previous events leading up to the first moment of the story. Now that time has been covered, it's time to move on to our next question. 6. What do I want?: What do I want? As human beings? We're all driven by wants and needs. These wants and needs manifest in our actions and our words. So let's discuss objectives to put it plainly, and objective is what your character wants. Some actors like to consider a super objective for their character. The Super objective is a want that governs the characters entire life in Tennessee Williams, a cat on a hot tin roof. We can see how Maggie's character is governed by the Super objective to be financially stable. The first scene she discusses how broker family always was and we watch how this super objective guides her actions and her words throughout the story. For some actors, knowing they're super objective is incredibly helpful. They find that it grounds that performance and lets them know what their characters should always be working towards. However, some actors prefer just to focus on the objectives found in the story. That's something that we should all do. So go through the story and figure out your major needs and wants in every scene that your character is in. These objectives should be linked to events and preferably moved the dramatic action forward. A good way to find these objectives is by asking yourself, if I was in the situation of the character, what would I want? Asking yourself that question? If I were in this scenario is referred to as the magic. If it's a tool that was created by Constantine Stanislavski, you can use it whenever you're working on the character. The idea is asking yourself, if I was in this position, if I had these kind of parents, if I was the prince of Denmark, How would I behave? That helps us connect our emotions, our inner life, to the characters in her life. Now, objectives are not something to have set in stone after the first rehearsal. You want to experiment with objectives. So for example, you might take an objective to rehearsal, try it out in the scene, and then try out another one the next day. That way you can see how your performance changes with different objectives. So objectives are not to be set in stone. There are tools to help us explore the character. Another tip with objectives is to always try to write them in a positive form. For example, you might write, I want her to stay as opposed to I don't want to be rejected. When we use a positive objective, it gives us something to actively pursue in the scene, which makes our performance more active and more engaging. Now sometimes in the middle of a scene are objectives can change. This is what is referred to as a beat. For example, if my character was coming home to breakup with his girlfriend, he opens the door, he turns on the lights and suddenly all of his friends pop out from behind the furniture and shout surprise. His objective to breakup with his girlfriend is going to change. It is something to look for in our script. Ask yourself, when does my characters objective change in the scene? So in summary, objectives are what the character wants. A super objective is the single want that governs the character's life. Discover what the character wants in each scene. Find the beats in the scenes. Don't set objectives and stone. So of course we all want things. The problem is there's always something that's getting in the way. That's what we'll talk about next. 7. What is my Obstacle?: What is my obstacle? Imagine a story now where a character desperately wanted a Twinkie. She walked to the refrigerator, she opened it up. She grabbed the Twinkie and shade it. The end. Or imagined in Lord of the Rings, if Gandalf gave Frodo The Ring, but then he said, don't worry little hobbit, I can create a teleportation circle, but it will take us right to Mount Doom. We should be done with this in about two minutes flat. Well, that would destroy my childhood. And it would also be a less compelling story. You see our characters have these wants, these things they try to accomplish. But the story is only interesting because things get in the way. Obstacles are the things that prevent our characters from getting what they want, or at least they attempt to prevent our characters from getting what they want. Now, obstacles don't have to just be objects and people. They can come from your past and present circumstances. They can come from your own psyche, the conflicting objectives of other characters, your relationships, and even your surroundings. Without obstacles, there's no conflict. And with no conflict, there's no drama. So as actors, what we need to do is go through the script and ask ourselves the question, who and what stops me from getting what I want? Another tip for obstacles is to make sure they are immediate or urgent. Character has a massive exam coming up, but it's two months away, then the pressure for studying is not gonna be as big. However, if the exam is in four hours, then we're going to see a more interesting story. So in conclusion, obstacles are the things that stand in the way of or oppose the characters getting what they want. Objectives aren't always tangible. They can be intangible as well without obstacles, there is no conflict and therefore no drama. And obstacles are always better when their immediate and urgent. Next, we'll talk about how your character response to obstacles, how they get what they want. 8. How do I get what I want?: How do I get what I want? So now we understand what our character wants. We understand the obstacles that are opposing them. Now we have to determine how our character goes about getting what they want. You may have heard the expression, acting is dealing. Essentially what that means is that character is revealed through actions, not just through words. We refer to the things that our characters do to pursue their objectives as tactics. Tactics can be physical or psychological. A lot of actors were right down in their notebook or in their script, sometimes right next to the line. Their tactics for getting what they want in a scene. For example, if you're in a scene where your character wants, get information out of someone, you might write down tactics like to entreat, to be friend, to show respect. Things that might get the other character to give you what you want. Tactics are similar to objectives and that we don't want to set them in stone. We want to experiment with them throughout the rehearsal process. Now, a quick note on tactics. I don't actually write down my tactics. That teacher, I haven't always been that way I used to write down my tactics, but I found that when I did that, I had the preconceived notion of how the scene was supposed to go. In my mind, I develop the right way the scene should go, which is not true. There's no such thing as the right way for a scene. There's truthful and there's untruthful. So I found that when I wrote down my tactics, I was constantly thinking of that responsibility I had to the scene as opposed to being in the moment and actively engaging with my scene partner. The other reason I don't use them anymore is that I think in life, we don't really consider our tactics. We just adapt according to the conversation. As humans, we're all very adaptable. For example, if you and I were to meet at a party and we started having a fun polite conversation. Your tactics might be mostly positive in the beginning of the conversation. Then about halfway through, let's imagine I said something horribly, horribly offensive. Well, your tactics would naturally shift. You wouldn't have to take time to consider how to shift your tactics. You would instantly start to shift them just through your adaptability. Now before you decide to never use tactics again, remember, I've tried out both methods over and over again for many years. I use tactics and then I decided to shift to this new way of working. So I'd say try them both, experiment with how you're acting changes when you use tactics. And then try just being in the moment, focusing on what you want and adapting to how the character response to you, though, in summary, tactics are the things we do to pursue our objectives. They can be physical or psychological. You can write down tactics next year lines, or just focus on what your character wants and adapt accordingly. So those are the six actors questions. Now we're going to discuss some extra tools that we can use to bring our character to life. 9. Additional Tools: Now let's discuss some tools that actors can use to get deeper into character. The first tool we're going to discuss is substitution. Substitution involves replacing objects and people in the story with objects and people from your own life. This can help us identify with aspects of the character that may not relate to us in our own life. For example, if you were about to play a killer, you wouldn't be able to fall back on an experience that you have of killing someone, right? However, maybe there was a time where you felt like you could kill someone or maybe you once got in a fight that got out of hand, instead of trying to generate the emotion and physicality of a killer from scratch, you can fall back on those memories that are similar to the character. There are generally two schools of thought on substitution. One is to use your own memories and situations from your life to connect with the character. This technique was popularized by Constantine Stanislavski. Udl Hogan clarifies the idea when she says, we must make this transference. We must make this transference, this finding of the characters within ourselves through a continuing and overlapping series of substitutions from our own experiences and Remembrances and put them in the place of the fiction in the play. So let's say your character had a letter that was blackmailing them. You might substitute the contents of that letter with something that you, as your own person would want to keep secret. The second technique to use for substitution, it was popularized by Stella Adler. She actually said that she had a conversation with Stanislavski before he passed where he discounted the idea of only using your memories. Instead, he agreed with her thought that we should use our imagination. As she said, Don't use your conscious past. Use your creative imagination to create a past that belongs to your character. I don't want you to be stuck with your own life. It's too little. I've used both techniques and what I find works for me is actually creating a hybrid of both of them. What I like to do is use my imagination but replace characters with people I know in my own life. For example, if the story involves me betraying my best friend, then I will imagine my actual best friend in that role and the emotions that would come if I betrayed them. Another tool to consider when working on our characters is the tool of endowment. This tool is similar to substitution in that they are both used to stimulate the imagination. However, this technique is about endowing the physical objects you use and performance with the same physical qualities they have in real life. For example, let's say in the story your character has to pick up a suitcase filled with heavy rocks. Now the prop department is not going to actually fill the suitcase with heavy rocks. I mean, that would just be troublesome for everyone involved. So it's your job as the actor to understand the physical qualities that suitcase would have if it had heavy rocks inside of it. For some actors, this can seem like a small thing to have to worry about. I mean, is the audience really going to care if I pick up that suitcase as though it weighs nothing? Well, the short answer is yes. In Bryan Cranston, it's autobiography, he talks about the small things that make up performances. He says that if enough small breaks from reality occur, the audience will not buy in. Not just that though, you endow physical objects than those objects will feel more real to you as well. That will ground you're acting and make it more believable for yourself and therefore for your audience. When we are endowing these objects, try to use all of your senses to make the object more real to you. Also remember that objects can have physical qualities as well as emotional qualities. For example, if your grandmother gave you a necklace that she had kept all of her life? Well, that Nicholas is going to have some Ajahn. It has been around for a long time. It also has an emotional value to you. It's personal. So we want to endow the object with those emotional qualities as well. The last tool we want to discuss is the fourth wall. So if we're on stage, we have the backdrop behind us. We have our two sides, and then in front of us we have the audience. Or if we're filming, we have the camera inches away from us in some cases, now of course, our characters don't see the audience. They don't see the camera. But sometimes it can be tough as actors to get over the fact that those two things are so present. So we create this imaginary wall, the fourth wall while completes the room or extends the horizon if we're an outside area, that way we aren't as aware of the audience or the camera to, to note the distractions of the audience or the camera, we focus entirely on what our character wants and we create the fourth wall for some actors, the fourth wall is always detailed and specific when they look at it. And if that's the case, that's great for them. Some people are highly visual, but remember the fourth wall and never has to be anything more than a metaphor. It's only goal is to protect your reality from being broken by the audience or the camera. So in conclusion, we can use substitution, either from our own memories or our imagination to replace people and objects in the play. And downwind is used to give tangible objects and are acting the precise physical qualities they would have in life. Use the fourth wall, the imaginary wall, completing the room or area you are in to protect your reality from the audience or the camera. So now that we've discussed those extra tools, let's dive a little bit deeper into the process of creating a character. 10. Research: We've gone through the six main questions you're going to ask yourself when working on a part. Now we're going to dive a little bit deeper into fleshing out our character. Remember that character is revealed by action. And whether you're playing an average Joe or a CEO, you always want to aim to be a believable human being. The text is our greatest resource for fleshing out the character. And we always want to return to the text when answering the question, who am I? The reason that who am I was the first question was that it affects every other question we have. For example, you can't determine your tactics until you know how the character would do it, until you know who you are. Before we go any further, I'd like to discuss something. Many actors believed that losing themself in the part is the ideal. We hear stories all the time of actors getting praised for how deep in character they went. This can lead us as actors to strive soul hard to lose ourselves in a role that we do, just that we lose our self. In reality. We want to use the roll to explore aspects of ourselves as well that will connect us deeper to the character and give a more truthful performance. So rather than turn away from yourself, try to find yourself in the role. Ryan Gosling says, all my characters or me, I relate to each of these characters because aspects of their personality are like me. And I just turn up the parts of myself that are them and turn down the parts that aren't. So remember that you are the greatest resource for your character. There's a reason that so many different performers come back to the role of Hamlet each time and other actors steps into the role of Hamlet, they bring their own unique humanity to the character. That's what we get to see, that's what draws us in, and that's why we have so many different performances of Hamlet. Let's go back to the question of who am I? Because it can be quite daunting to think that you can't answer the other questions until you figure that one out. I mean, that's a huge question. So when we're searching for the answer to who am I remember, it won't be found instantly. That's why we have the rehearsal process to try and figure out that answer. That's where we can experiment with our tactics, with our different objectives, as well as experiment with how we view different relationships in the same. However, in film and TV, You might not get the chance to explore the character with the same amount of time that you would in theater. In that case, we have to rely even more so on the text. One way you can do this is by literally going through the script. And after every line your character speaks, asking yourself, why would my character say that? By delving into the kind of things they say and how they speak and a conversation or how they answer questions. We can come closer to understanding the character psychology, which will help us understand the character. Here are a couple of the things that you can look out for when you are reading through the script. Again, try to understand all the human conflicts that are occurring throughout the script. See if you can understand the opposing needs of different characters. Look for personal connections, images, smells, sounds and feelings. Relate to the events in the script. Write down any key words and phrases that inform and describe your character. By doing these things after each reading, our understanding of the author's intent should become more clear. Remember our characters should always serve the story. So understanding what the playwright or the screenwriter was going for is a huge part to creating a truthful character to help with authorial intent, try to define in one sentence what the author was trying to communicate with this work. When we work from the author's intent in this manner, our character will always serve the text as opposed to serving our own ego. Constantly ask yourself, what does the story want? Other than diving into the script, we can also focus our energy on research. The goal of our research is to try to figure out how our character got to be the way they are physically and emotionally. Before the start of the story. Some actors choose to do their research by writing out entire backstories for their characters. Viggo Mortensen is said to write backstory from the time his character is born up until the start of the story he's telling. Having that kind of detailed past can ground you in your performance. However, you have to be careful when writing something like that as well, because it's possible that director might disagree with an element of your past and want you to play the character in a different way. Sometimes we need to be flexible with our directors. Again, storytelling is collaborative, so we want to allow the director to have their insights on the character as well. They might see something with the character or with the overall story that you don't see from your narrow lens on the Character. Another good way to find out more about the character is to fill out a character questionnaire. You can find these just by searching online and they can provide different kinds of questions, things you might not think about that will help you understand your character more. One last way that we could discover more about our character is to ask ourselves abstract questions about the character. Something like, if your character was a drink, what drink would they be, or what color is most like your character? Asking ourselves these abstract questions can help us engage with the character in a way that's a little bit outside of the box and maybe more creatively inspiring. Ultimately, what we should do is ask ourselves questions of the characters. You can either write these down or just spend some time meditating on them. I'd say let your imagination run wild. Ask any question no matter how big or small the question can be, Who was the one true love of my life? Or it can be something like, what did I have for breakfast this morning? These are all questions that are spurred on by your subconscious, it showing you what you might be interested in as the character. So think of them, write them down if you don't answer them, having the questions in your subconscious percolating around all day, or maybe lead you to some new insights. To summarize, revisit, and immerse yourself in the script. Consider the authorial intent. Research the character. Write out a backstory, fill out a character questionnaire, or consider abstract questions to help you understand how your character got to be the way they are at the start of the story. Now, we're gonna talk about the physical side of our characters. 11. Physicality: Physicality, Sanford Mies nor once said an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words. By this, he means our character is revealed through what they do, not necessarily what they say. Basically, the audience can read the character based on how the character sits, how they stand, how they drink a cup of tea. All the physical actions of character does, helps the audience create the image of that character. A good example of this quotes announcer behaviors worth a pound of words comes from the late great actor John, because l from the movie deer hunter, during the wedding party scene, his character is supposed to run in a little bit late line up with the rest of the groomsmen who are preparing to take a photo. Now, that was what was written in the script because ALS character runs in, he lines up, they take the photo, he was late. This is what cues outdid. Instead, he ran in quickly just before the photo was taken. He looked down, realized his fly was unzipped and zipped it back up. And just by that little improv, by that little amps of behavior, we have a better understanding of his character. There are essentially two ways we can go about manifesting our physicality. And they also relate to how we go about creating a character. We can either work from the inside out or the outside in. Inside out means you're starting from the inner life of the character and using the psychological and emotional drives to manifest into the physicality outside in means starting with the physicality, what the character does, how they move, and using that to inform the inner life of the character. If you decide to work from the inside out, try to discern what the character might be feeling in different moments throughout the script. Then ask yourself, when have I felt something like that or something similar? What are the parallels I can find in my own life, I once had to play a character who had a huge fight with their significant other. Now, I've been in situations in my own life where I've been in fights with my significant other. I had to ask myself, How was I during those moments, what was a feeling? How was I reacting physically? I know that when I get in fights, I don't make a lot of eye contact. I also stand very rigid. That's how I handle myself in a verbal altercation with a significant other. So I brought those traits that physicality to the character to work from the outside in, we reverse that procedure. We start playing with different physical movements. Maybe it's scratching an eyebrow, maybe it's stroking your beard. Maybe it's just the way you shake your head. We want to try out different physicality and see how it impacts our emotions and our psychology. So try out different ways of speaking, walking, and interacting with the world around you. We don't just have to focus on big movements though. It's also interesting to explore the physicality with small things as well. Try figuring out how your character brushes their teeth. How did they make coffee? How do they tie their shoes? When we explore these subtle differences, we can slowly build into character in an organic way that might seem more natural to us. Another good idea, just in general for acting is to always keep a notebook with you when you go out, or maybe keep a Notes tab open on your phone. Whenever you're out, spend some time watching people. I mean, that's what we're going to play it, right? Real people. So watch how people behave in the world. Lawrence Olivier kept a notebook that he would use whenever he went out and he would people watch. If you saw an interesting behavior, he would write it down in his notebook. So he can maybe use it for a character or later. No matter what method you choose, remember, the physicality you explore must relate to the text. Not only that, it's important not to lock up our physicality early on as artists, we have to thrive on the uncertainty of the creative process and we have to make choices that maybe feel scary for us because that means there's a greater risk, a greater chance to be revealed. If we make the safe choices, that gives us leeway to hide, which is not what we wanna do is actors. One final thing to remember with physicality is that our baseline physicality can change based on the intention of the moment. So from moment to moment, while our characters objectives change or their intention changes, their physicality might change as well. For example, if your character is walking down the street to get to a birthday party, that will look different than if your character walks down the street to get to a funeral. So to summarize, an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words. We can find physicality by working from the inside out or the outside in. If you're working from the inside out, decide what the character may be feeling and determine how you behaved in your life when you felt similarly, working from the outside and try different physical actions, either big or small, and see how they impact your character. Keep a notebook and write down any interesting behavior you see out in the world. Explorer physicality as revealed by the text, don't settle on physicality early on. And the baseline physicality can change based on the intent. Next, we'll discuss the importance of relationships and how they affect our character. 12. Relationships: There will be blood is one of my favorite movies of all time. I don't people throw around the word masterpiece alot, but my goodness, it is a masterpiece. Daniel Day Lewis, his performance as Daniel Plainview, in my mind is the greatest acting performance I've ever seen. They lose is said to be the greatest method actor alive, if not, of all time. However, even day Lewis has said, you don't really know the character until you start playing with the other actors, until you understand the relationships. We have to work out your character's relationships with everyone they see or hear about our relationship with the person and can begin even before we meet them, we build up a mental image of who this person is based on things we may have seen about them, or based on things other people have said. Sometimes we even develop an emotional connection to this person despite again, never having met them. A good recent example of this, depending on when you watch this, is from the film Joker walking Phoenix's character, Arthur Fleck has a relationship with Robert did Nero's character Murray, who hosts a TV show. Even though Arthur has never met Murray, he feels an emotional connection to him so much so that this relationship drives a segment of the film. So our job here is to flesh out all of these relationships with specific details that affect your inner life and affect you emotionally. One way we can do this is by talking with other performers about their relationships that will occur on stage or on the film. Sometimes having a shared history with the person, one that you both agree upon can help ground you both in the moment. Another thing you can do with other performers is asked if you can improvise as seen from your character's past together. Maybe a scene that isn't even in the script. For example, if you're playing a married couple who spent together for 20 years, maybe you can improve what the first state was like. That way you have an actual sense memory. You can fall back on when you're looking at this person and thinking about your relationship. Now, sometimes you don't get a chance to work with the other actors, or maybe they're not into the improvised or the shared history idea. I know some actors just want to come up with their own backstory and that's totally fine. We have to work within whatever limits we have. So another way to start working on our relationships is to begin by defining the relationships in the script with a broad overall term. So we might define a relationship with the words, I loved them, or I hate them, or I'm intimidated by them, or I'm encouraged by them. We use a broad phrase to start out and then we delve into the specifics and figure out what we want the other character to feel. To delve into the specifics. We again, we focus on the text and we focus on the work we do on set. Another thing that can help bring our relationships to life is to focus on the major and minor erect tents about the person. Maybe you decide that the other character says like way too much. And it bothers you that way. Every time that character says like, You're going to have a reaction. Of course, when we decide these irritants, remember a has to make sense in the text. If you're playing Juliet and you decide that everything Romeo does is annoying, you're not going to be serving the story. We also want to consider status in terms of our relationship. For example, if you're playing a boss talking to the employee, that's going to be different than if you're playing an employee talking to their boss. Status can be defined as each person's real or imagined place in the social hierarchy in regards to everyone else, people often make judgments about their own importance compared to others around them based on this, status and status can even form our physicality. For example, if your character is President of the United States, they probably feel a lot of authority, a lot of power. So maybe they stand tall, maybe they puff their chest out, maybe they speak in a very presidential voice. Conversely, if your character considers themselves low class are unimportant, that maybe the try to hide themselves with their physicality. Maybe they're constantly holding themselves, making them smaller. Maybe speak a bit to quietly, nervously at times, if that's OK. Another thing to focus on is how your character perceives their status in relationship to everyone else. And acting teacher once said to me, when you play the king, look for the beggar in them. When you play the beggar, look for the king. I think that's a really interesting point because we all have moments in our lives where we feel strong. We feel like we have some authority. We feel like we can speak with a chest and then we have other issues or other moments where were hesitant, we don't know how to jump in, we would rather be invisible. So in conclusion, flush out the character relationships with everyone you meet or here about. One way is to start by defining the relationship and abroad term and then going into the specifics. You can work with other actors to develop a shared history or improvised moments from your history to give you a sense memory to fall back on. Consider the major and minor irritants involved in the relationship. Consider the status of the relationship and how that status informs your character's voice, physicality, and behavior. And next, we'll discuss the character's voice. 13. Voice: The voice, vocal work is another subject that can honestly have a class in and of itself. It's been tremendous for my own acting. It helps you engage with your breath, with your voice. And by doing so, you're able to be propelled by your breath into your impulses. It's truly fascinating work. I'd recommend reading some different books on it like Kristin Linklater's freeing the voice, or Dudley writes, speaking with skill, there's a lot of great resources out there. And if you'd like some more, feel free to let me know in the comments, the voice can tell us a lot about the character. In some ways, our voice is a summation of the experiences our character has been through over their lives. When we think of the late heath ledgers performance as the joker, one of the most iconic things that came out of that was the jokers voice. Daniel Day Lewis will often read, hit script over and over and won't speak the lines until he believes he can find the character's voice in his head. Meryl Streep has given countless performances where she completely alters her voice to help deliver a brand new character. Now, that being said, we don't always have to fundamentally change our voice for the character. There are things to consider though. For example, if your character grew up in Brooklyn and stayed there their whole life, they probably have a Brooklyn accent. That's something you would have to work on to bring to the character. As I said before, our voice is a summation of our experiences. So what has your character bend through in their life and how might that have impacted their voice? If you're playing a character who is a politician, they probably went through public speaking courses. So perhaps they speak at a more refined matter. They speak clearly, they enunciate. What if your character was constantly ridiculed as a child? Anytime they spoke up, they were told to shut up. Well, then maybe your character hesitate a bit more than that voice. They speak a little bit softer. They don't really know if now's the time or place to say something, but maybe they should. Or maybe your character grew up in a tough neighborhood where they've gotten a lot of fights. So maybe every time your character talks, it almost seems like the fighting with someone, you know, basically, we want to consider the past of our character and consider how that past impacted how our character speaks. Ask yourselves, why does my characters speak the way that they do? What drove them to speak that way. So to summarize, you don't have to fundamentally change your voice for the character. If your character is from a different area of the world than you, they're considered dialect work. Our voice is a summation of our experiences. Consider your character's past and ask yourself, how did that past influenced my character's voice? Next, we're gonna talk about a subject that is a little bit tough, but it's one that is vital to actors. 14. Vulnerability: Vulnerability. Great and truthful actors reveal themselves, not just emotionally, but also psychologically. What does it mean to be vulnerable? For named Brown is one of the leading authorities on vulnerability. She studies shame and she has a lot of great TED Talks online. She has a Netflix special, she has amazing books. I highly recommend anyone checked them out. Her work is very transformative. But from her definition, being vulnerable means having an open heart. Being willing to share ourselves fully, and not just share, but be affected fully as well. Vulnerability does not mean to be weak. On the contrary, to be vulnerable takes courage and strength. Probably the most important point is that you, as you are today, are worthy of love and belonging. And that is the entirety of you. You when you're at your best and you, when you're at your worst, You are worthy. Sometimes the pressure to be something greater than ourselves can curtail our ability to just be ourselves. Many of us spend years denying our own vulnerability because we're taught early on that being vulnerable is worthy of shame. As actors, we have to know that that's just not true. Being vulnerable is not worthy of shamed. We must recognize the power of vulnerability. The expression of your vulnerability is what moves people on an emotional level. It connects people to their own humanity. To put our vulnerability to use, we have to determine what our characters go through in the story and how we would respond if we were in that scenario, discover the feelings, emotions, and psychology behind it, and also figure out the physical movements that manifest from those things. Then we have to lend that honest vulnerability, the truth of how we would deal with those same circumstances. The character. That's what can make it hard. You're revealing yourself emotionally and psychologically, not just to another person, but to anyone that's watching. But remember, that person you're revealing is worthy of love. Ultimately, vulnerability is a journey that we constantly have to work on. I suggest journaling and meditation and if you can afford it, going to therapy and unpacking any walls that you may have subconsciously built up over the years. Our job is to nurture our body, mind, and spirit so that they are soft and elastic and they can absorb and rebound. You can be effected and affect others. The work is finding compassion in yourself so you can see it in others, even those who might not see it in you. So we have to fill ourselves up with self-care, self-love, and artistic expression so we can be more honest and vulnerable in the world. So to summarize, being vulnerable means to have an open heart. You, as you are today, are worthy of love and belonging. Our vulnerability moves people and connects them to their humanity. Attach your own emotions and physical movements to whatever the character may be going through. We must nurture our body, mind, and spirit so we can be vulnerable while acting. 15. Conclusion: Here's the process or more of the point r checklist that we've laid out. The three reads, the six actors questions, substitution and dominant. And the fourth wall, research, physicality, relationships, voice, and vulnerability. The toughest part about writing a process for getting into character is that every role is different. All of these tools we've discussed are usefully use when you come into character might vary every single time. Sometimes focusing on the physicality will lead you into the character. Other times it might be delving into research. The key is to follow your instinct, follow your curiosity to lead you to the character. And remember that no matter what, you will be enough. I hope you enjoy this class. And if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to reach out to me and I will answer back as soon as I can. Thanks.