One of the main things I like to enforce through YGSF is to always be yourself, but today is probably one of the only times that i’m going to say “Don’t Be You!” As an actress i’m constantly training and working hard to ensure that whenever an audition comes up or I land a role, i’m completely on top of my game. Over time i’ve accumulated a bunch of different techniques to help me get into character, which have proven to be pretty reliable and pretty useful. Now i’ve sort of started to figure this out (i’m still learning) I thought i’d share some of them with my fellow actors and actresses!
First things first, identify the basic characteristics of the character you are playing (age, gender, weight, height etc…) You may already have been given this information and if so then lucky you, that’s one less task!
Secondly, work out the characters backstory. You’ll be able to get some of this information from the script, but go the extra mile and figure out as many intricate details about the character as possible. Here are some examples of the questions you should be asking yourself:
- What is his/her relationship with family?
- Is your character in a romantic relationship?
- Where does the character live and where did they grow up?
- Are they financially stable?
- Have there been any major events in their lives or are they carrying any big secrets with them? These two are particularly useful as often monumental things that have happened in our past hugely influence how we behave and how we think.
Have a think about specific character traits. For instance…
- What are their behavioural tendencies: tolerances, likes/dislikes, moralities, introverted/extroverted, level of compassion etc…
- Are they currently emotionally stable?
- Do they have any big hopes or fears? In everyday life it is these factors which often hold us back or push us to do certain things, knowing this information will help you to understand why your character acts the way they do, on deeper level.
- Have a think about what their star sign is. I really like this one because you can use the star sign to figure out your characters traits, or you can use your characters traits to help figure out their star sign.
There are also a handful of physical activities you can do to help you get into the mind of your character:
- Create a playlist: Once you’ve become more familiar with the character and built up a backstory, it’s good to gather together a playlist of songs that you think your character may listen to. This is a great way of connecting with the character and getting into their thoughts. It’s also something you can use when you need to focus and get in the zone before going into a scene.
- Films: Watch films with similar characters in them to yours. This is a great way to get inspired, especially when it comes to creating the physicality of your character.
- Meditation: Meditate as your character, allowing yourself to visualise their life and also think their thoughts. Meditation is also a great way of calming down your mind before you start to get into character.
- Hobbies: Have a good think about what your character likes to do. Does he/she read a lot of books? If so, then decide which books and read a couple. You can even go as far as to figure out what food he/she likes.
- Write a diary: As you would your own personal diary, write a daily diary for your character. Include what he/she has done that day, anything in particular that has happened to the character and how they are feeling. This is useful to look back on, especially if you ever feel a disconnect from the character.
- Walk around as the character: This is good to do once you’ve done most of the other prep. When you’ve really gotten to know your character, get dressed how they would and go for a walk. See the world through their eyes.
Note: If you have quite a long time to prepare for a film, don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as being too prepared. You don’t want to exhaust yourself and make the role feel tired. On the day you want to give the most organic performance that you can!
Once you’ve done all of this prep don’t obsess about it, leave it there and trust it is all there in the back of your mind. You’ll have gotten to know your character on a much much deeper level, without realising it you’ve made a strong connection with your character and will be able to deliver a really truthful performance!