To really get into a characters head and really feel what they feel I ask myself a lot of questions. I’ve broken it down to my own personal steps.
Step 1: Draw from your own experiences
• When have you been in a similar situation?
• How did you feel?
• How did you carry yourself?
• How did you want others to perceive you?
• What were you doing?
• How were the people around you acting?
• What got you into that situation?
• What were you thinking vs. what you were saying?
• What environment were you in and how did that affect you? Example: A fight with a girlfriend in your living room will be different than at the library.
Step 2: Who is the Character Your Animating
• What is your characters personality?
• Where are they in their arc in the movie? Example: In the beginning they are weak but in the end they are powerful.
• How do they carry themselves
• If you could, can you equate them to an animal. Example: A shy person may try to hide themselves like turtle.
• Are they an animal? What are some physical or personality traits of that animal?
• Do you know anyone like that character?
• How does that character act differently to different people? For example, you may act differently around your friends than you would around your grandparents.
• Are they similar to any well-known movie icons? For example, if you had a confident character are they more like Indian Jones or Ace Venture. Both confident but completely different.
• Height and Weight. If your character is pregnant how may she walk differently through a crowd than say a non-pregnant woman of the same age and demeanor?
Step 3: What are the characters physical limitations
When if at all possible, do whatever you can that may physically force you to see the world through the characters perspective. If your character is blind, blindfold yourself, if they are short crawl around on your knees, if they walk with a limp put a tack in your shoe. Don’t do that for real that would hurt.
So many acting choices come from these limitations. For example, a man who is deaf in one ear will always lean toward you favoring his good ear.
Step 4: Act it out
This can also be the first thing you do. Nothing gets you in a characters frame of mind more than putting yourself in their shoes. Granted, nine times out of 10 you want to know and feel what they feel before you act it out, but act it out from a physical stand point. Recreating the situation/environment can tell you a lot. For example, if it’s a teacher in a classroom,they have desks and dropped pencils to maneuver around, so set up a few props and see how you move around that space. Then do it again later when you think you understand the character better.
Guest blogger Nick Bruno