Acting : Getting into Character. by Alexandria Payne

Alexandria Payne

Getting into Character.

What are some of the things you do to get ready before a scene? Just curios since I know everyone prepares in different ways. :)

Jonathan Carden

It really varies on what I am getting ready for. If I am playing someone mentally deranged for instance I do my absolute best to identify and gain as much knowledge possible on what their condition or illnesses may be. I could even go as far to watch videos of people with mental illnesses that relate to my character and possibly visit a mental hospital to speak with a physician on how it may effect me and my character. I research what can be and I build what can't in my mind. I create a back story if my character doesn't have a last name I give them one. Before a scene I think of things they would, I eat what they would eat even the way they would eat it. I hope this helps!

Fay Devlin

I am not an actress, but as a writer I have prep before getting into the head of the character. Now, you probably know that writers can do a lot of research, and I do. I love research. But before I actually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard: I put on shoes. Yep, I need to have shoes on. Shoes mean I'm not just a home office dweller but a professional who hopes to shift earning her living toward screenwriting! Takes all kinds, doesn't it?

Alexandria Payne

I like what you said, Alle, about " leaving yourself in the dressing room". For me it's important to try to get into character before I step foot in front of the camera. It can be tricky sometimes because I like to chat with other actors before hand and have a good time on set but most actors understand.

Alexandria Payne

Thanks for the comment Jonathan! Are there and exercises you do on set right before filming?

Alexandria Payne

Thanks Fay! I guess I never thought about how other positions need to get into character as well.

Rob Novak

I would suggest finding something that will wake your body and voice up while focusing your concentration. For me that's doing a Fitzmaurice Voicework warmup called the standing series. If your costars are game you might also want to do very short group game to establish chemistry and get everyone on the same page. If you don't know any games, I would suggest taking one of the many improv classes offered here in Austin. Too many to count!

Beverly Ann Arrowsmith

Back story is everything. Pick up a copy of Uta Hagen's RESPECT FOR ACTING.

Hannah Reeder

Yoga to clear the mind, then fill the space with my characters thoughts

Alexandria Payne

Thanks Rob! Never thought about a group game.

Alexandria Payne

Ill have to check that out ,Beverly.

Alexandria Payne

Ooh…yoga sounds like a good way to get into that character head space. Thanks for sharing Hannah!

Rob Novak

If you like doing backstory, also check out Larry Moss's Intent to Live. But be careful how much time you spend on it as sometimes it can be more than you need and get in your way. Great quote from William H. Macy on this: "I've always felt everything you need is on the page. I used to load my wallet with fake IDs and know what was outside the door down the imaginary hallway. I would do a history for the character, but that's a whole lot of work, and one day I thought, 'I wonder what would happen if I didn't do that,' and the answer was, 'Nothing.' Nothing. It doesn't help you. For an actor, the real issue is the moment-to-moment."

Beverly Ann Arrowsmith

Agree. I establish it and then set it free.

Beverly Ann Arrowsmith

Moment to moment is all there is - - but if you don't know who you are, how can you get there? If I'm from the streets of LA, as opposed to a small town in Kansas, I am going to have a completely different knee-jerk reaction to a drive by shooting. I have to disagree with you on this. You have to know your character. Also, subtext is so important. It's not what you say, but what you feel and think. I have directed for years and believe me, the actors that do the work stand out in the crowd. Their characterizations are more dimensional.

Cherise Anne Mitchell

One of the many things that I do is that I imagine myself in my characters shows, and as I walk on stage or on to film, I imagine myself walking through a door and becoming that character.


well as you said its different for every one but is you ned to do any accents then what helps me is to remember one work with that accent and just keep repeating what that word is. but the last thing that works out for me and other people i hear is to watch a movie or tv show that has a character like the one your doing so that you can get a good idea of how to do that part.

Mary Dallas

I usually do a character analysis. What is the character's objective? Conflict? Background? Ask yourself these questions about the character & write down the answers. I like to dig deep into the heart & soul of the character I'm trying to bring to life.

Ken Belsky

The moment before: Your character has to be coming from something that has just happened. Good or bad. Its either in the script, or a bridge you build. You have to be coming from somewhere when your scene begins. Otherwise the first moments are neutral.

Ayelette Robinson

Hi Alexandria, great question! All of the ideas said so far are right on. Just to add another: my process is to do the backstory, scene analysis, emotional analysis, etc. a day (or more, if you have the script earlier) before the audition or performance, and just let it marinate and live in me for those few days. The morning of the audition or performance I start to live in that emotion and character. And then the hour or so before the audition or performance, I do whatever I need to get me into the emotional state -- sometimes that's listening to a song, or maybe it's doing something physical like pushups, or watching a particular video, whatever I need to to get into the emotional state I need for the character. By that point, all the other analysis is living in you and will come out in the right way, so the few minutes before I just focus on fine-tuning my emotional state.

Alisa Vernon

I like to write background stories about the characters I play. The more detailed, the better.

Abhishek Singh Er

as you must have done with the lines and character outlines before getting ready for a scene .. i must suggest you to 1- Focus under the parameters of the scene/stage 2- With blank or empty mind helps in getting natural

Peter Gill Johnston

You only have two choices to make initially. The character is either fiction or non fiction. If non fiction your work will be to define the idiosyncrasies of that character. For fiction characters....repeat the same as non fiction. As a Director if I wanted a carbon copy of a historical or current character I would animate or have CGI print it out because any actor that thinks they should replicate the character is never going to achieve that goal and be out of character because they are defeated. The practice of creating a back story seems to be the popular prep de jour, but has less value for any particular scene than the character acting on impulse to their senses and what that scene at that specific time requires. It is the spontaneous and valid actor that sends chills through an audience. So how do you live on stage? Be physically fit because you cannot drag an impulse out and hang it out for all to see. Be mentally fit because every spark of change and subtext must be processed in a manner of nano seconds and communicated to the body and the target. There is no "ME" there is only "I" so you cannot substitute emotions as I see even the most adept actors use because they have let the recall stick to the emotion, then applying it to an ever changing target, which then becomes "ME" This is not complicated as your Masters Degree in the Stage Crafts prepared you for. You ever wonder why the greatest of actors never went to an acting college. Relax in a constant state of improving your craft, much like the athlete that practices 8 hours a day for one moment of not thinking how the feat is done. Oh yea..and..............................always have a light heart and have fun!

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