Everyone loves a good character role. Some actors like playing the villain that is out of this world insane.
Others like playing in period pieces. Whichever character role is your favorite, chances are you have probably spent a ton of time preparing yourself for it.
What if that was mostly in vain?
See character roles are such a small portion of what you will be auditioning for that spending a lot of time preparing for them is counterproductive. Plus, on the grand scheme, it is one of the easier roles to play.
By far, the toughest auditions and the toughest roles to play are the ones you will be faced with most often, yet most actors seldom put much effort into preparing for them.
That character type is: you! Everyday people are most of what you see on TV, Film, and even in stage productions, far more often than anything else.
Most actors would rather spend time working on other character types because they are “more interesting” or they pose a “different challenge.”
While you should be a well rounded actor, doesn’t it make sense to focus on what you will be cast as most often?
Fair warning: most of what you have been taught about playing this type of role is just plain wrong. Most of your reservations about playing this role full out, are unfounded.
See, regardless of the media type (be it screen or live action) your actions are muted. So, you can’t just casually react in the scene. Everything has to be amplified.
If it feels unnatural, you are on the right track. Go against your instincts and dial up your performance. Everyone in your acting class might think you’re nuts. That’s ok. Even a director that is less than stellar will see the perfection in your performance because they are seeing it through a lens.
To really get a good idea of this you have to establish a baseline for what “normal” is. You have to train your mind, just like you train your body.
If you’re not recording and reviewing yourself performing scenes, it’s time to start. It’s even better if you can do this with a friend or in a small group.
Here’s how you establish the baseline.
First pick a scene you want to act out.
Then record yourself acting the scene. Do this 3 times. Start at the level at which you would normally play this role and overact by a little for the second take and overact by a lot for the third take.
Review the takes and pick whichever scene is closest to what you think is a great performance. You probably won’t have a perfect one just yet so pick the take that is closest.
Do this again 2 more times and adjust your performance with each take, for however you critiqued yourself. If you overacted in the original scene, then dial down the performance for take 1 and then dial it down even more for take 2.
If you underacted in the original scene then dial up your performance and overact by a little for take 1 and overact by a lot for take 2.
When you review the scenes again, take note of which one comes closest to what you feel is a standout performance.
Do this over and over again, until you find one that is just right.
Once you find it, it’s time to lock in that level as your baseline for all future roles. To do that, simply play the scene, at the same level and in the exact same way over and over again.
Do this until you are so bored that you can’t stand to do it anymore. That’s when your baseline has been established. When your mind is bored with a task, it’s because it doesn’t have to be active while you’re performing that task. In other words, it’s second nature at that point.
With your new baseline you can now go forth and tackle new roles with confidence.
When other actors audition for this type of role they try to turn switch on and attempt to act it out on the spot. Notice how far you came from the first round of takes until you settled on one you liked. Actors who don’t go through this exercise are doing that in real time in front of Casting Directors!
CDs have a different frame of reference and they are able to watch your performance and imagine it being played out on screen. This is why you have to establish your baseline. If you don’t, then chances of you delivering a stand out performance for a CD are incredibly slim.
Now that you know how to prepare for the most common type of audition, it’s time to get out there and knock them out of the park!
This will open doors for you and you can use it as leverage to get into more auditions and to upgrade the quality of the projects you are working on.
It’s no secret that the industry values this just as much or even more than the talent you bring, but when you have this and the talent, you are completely unstoppable.
See you at the top,