If you read last weeks blog Something you probably didn’t know about Method Acting you’ll know that one of the biggest misconceptions of Method Acting is that you become someone else. Whilst many actors want to get away from themselves that myth of the method couldn’t be further from the truth. Today I want to share with you 3 proven tips to build a character using The Method that will skyrocket your acting ability and help you get clearer on the character building process, but most importantly help you realise it is much simpler than you think.
Many actors over complicate this process and end up in a pickle. Let’s dive in so you no longer have to turn yourself inside out to embody the role…
YOU, the character
Let’s use the metaphor of a plant or flower growing. YOU are the soil, the PREPARATION you do to grow the character is the seed. The seed (preparation) is planted within the rich soil of experience (YOU). You read the script over and over to dissect the clues (feeding the soil and seed). Out of YOU (the soil) grows this wonderful character (plant/flower) whos roots are firmly embedded in YOU (the rich soil). During rehearsals the seed and soil is fed more and more until a beautiful flower/plant (the character) has blossomed and is ready to continue maturing during the production – (life of the plant/flower). So you see you never become someone else because the character was in you all along, you just have to find where they are hiding in you.
As Method Actor Johnny Depp says:- “With any part you play there has to be a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be otherwise it’s just not acting, it’s lying“.
Now we’ve got that clear lets find out what you can do to build a believable character out of YOU.
3 proven tips to build a character using The Method
The first thing you need to do is connect to the role, how can you do this? Well we have to find what the two of you have in common.
- Find all of the similarities between yourself and the character. You will never relate until you find what is similar about the two of you. This is how you find the cross over between yourself and character and is the first step you should take in your creative process. List as many similarities as you can, from what may seem like something small/trivial to the HUGE similarities. Get them out of your head and on paper/laptop so you can see them visually and refer to them whenever you feel you’re having a creative block connecting to the role.
- Find all the differences between yourself and the character. Again list these either on paper or on your laptop. The crucial step now is to make these differences feel familiar to you, do this by researching them. This is where most people believe you “go method”. They think of Robert DeNiro getting a taxi drivers license for 6 weeks or Heath Ledger locking himself inside a room, but the truth is everything you do, whether it’s experiential or not is part of a CREATIVE METHOD, not just the research part of building your character.
Robert DeNiro admitted that he didn’t NEED to become a taxi driver, but he did it as it may have contributed to the development of the role Travis Bickle. The thing about Method Actors is, they don’t like to leave any stone unturned in their creative process, and neither should you. You don’t need to go crazy or overboard with this, the purpose of research is to fill in the gaps in your imagination, so you can bring truth to the scenes and have more options to work with.
- When speaking about the character speak in first person… “I want this right now”, not Abigail wants this right now. By speaking in third person you disassociate yourself from your creation. You create an abyss rather than closing the gap making it harder to connect. Remember everything comes from YOU. YOU create the character out of yourself, YOU create the action, YOU speak the lines and YOU have the thoughts, so by saying “I am angry at you at this point” rather than “Abigail is angry at you at this point”, you are cementing that connection.
Follow these 3 proven tips to build a character using The Method for a solid starting point and you will find the whole process much easier.
Did that resonate with you? I’d love to connect!
Let me know in the comments box below or share with your acting friends, it could be just the thing they need if they’ve been struggling.
Here’s to your success!
Don’t give up, just keep learning
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If you found these tips useful, you can grab yourself more tips completely FREE. Louise O’Leary is a professional actress, method acting coach and Artistic Director of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Join the hundreds of actors around the world who have downloaded her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career“. Download here and be on your way to acting success today!
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