An Actor’s Guide to Character Development: The Introduction

There is one thing that as an actor one must completely excel at in order to become successful. Well, you could be related to someone within the industry – that always helps, however, if you are like 99.9% of every other actor, than you are starting from scratch, and must have the talent to back you up. As an actor, you must be able to create a character. This is what we call, Character Development.

Character Development isn’t just sitting around, reading your name from the script, and getting a surface level view of who you are as a character – it’s delving as deeply as possible into who this character is. It is literally trying to become this person. As an actor you must be able to completely void out all of you, and replace it with this character/person. However, you must learn how to void yourself out, without completely becoming numb to your human sensations – letting parts of you leak through at the appropriate times in order to create a more stable and dynamic character. There are a lot of discussions between actors and acting coaches about this method, which was originally established by famed acting coach and director Stanislavski. It is within this type of acting that the phrase, Method Acting” was coined.

“Method Acting” is a technique in which actors literally replicate feeling and emotions pertaining to a particular scene in order to create and process the scene (emotional). The actors whom are participating within this technique recall feelings and emotions from their real life and transcend them into their character’s life in order to establish and influence the portrayal of their character.

As an actor myself, I personally use this technique, however I do not completely rely on it. I use it as a step in my character and scene development. It is imperative that as an actor you do not rely solely on one type or variation of creating your character and scene, solely because by doing so you are putting a box and limitations upon this character. And as any human knows, the emotions that flood throughout us are not this kind. They are rude, they are sudden – they act as an earthquake or a tornado. They are flighty. One rule that you must always remember is to never become stuck in a rut. Never become completely dependent on a single technique. Always remain flexible as well as inventive.

The basic introduction to Character Development is to remember that as humans we are very complex, and this complexity must, in-turn, delve into our character. By doing so, it is very easy for you to create a very interesting and multi-dimensional character. Remember, stay true to who you are as well as your character.

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