Studio111 - Ten Steps to get into Character.

This can never be stated enough - acting is not about acting ie pretending to be the character you are portraying - but about getting into the mind and mannerisms and responses the character is supposed to be and becoming that person. Not every step is needed nor do you have to do them in any real order.

1. Research the character: 

Learn as much as you can about the character you’re playing. Here research is the key. 

Read, study, watch - you need to get inside their head.

2. Brainstorm Ideas:

Once you’ve done your research, brainstorm ideas that will help you further understand the character and their motivations. 

How would they react in different circumstances say to winning the lottery, learning of a death, a small car crash etc.

3. Create a Backstory: 

Develop a detailed backstory for your character.

Where did they grow up?
What school, if any, did they attend?
Were they bullied or a bully?
Did they have a love interest?
Were their parents supportive?
Did any trauma happen to create who they are now?

4. Rehearse: 

Rehearse the script and get comfortable with the character’s lines and actions.

The lines need to be memorized to the degree you can recite under pressure of whatever action is needed. If the lines are being shouted during a physical fight you will not have time to stop and think about them.

5. Develop Habits: 

Develop physical habits and mannerisms that fit the character.

How do they walk?
How do they sit down?
How do they eat?
Are they always in a defensive pose?
Where do they hold the tension in their body?
How do they perform every day simple actions?

6. Walk in the Character’s Shoes: 

Spend time in the character’s shoes and think how they would think and act.

Go for a walk along a street, park or other place and try and be as they would be in that place.

Go shopping and explore what they would be like in that location.

Read the script and find out where various scenes are set and if able travel to similar places and walk around feeling as the character might in those settings.

7. Develop an Inner Monologue: 

Create an inner monologue for your character.

Every one has some sort of voice and chatter which may be conscious or subconscious. 

What does your character mull over in their mind?
What inner agreements/disagreements might they run through their thoughts?
Is their inner monologue helpful or critical?
Does it reflect them truly and how they feel or is it actually someone else's mantra they have taken on?

8. Talk to Other Characters: 

Talk to other characters in the scene to understand the relationships.

Films, TV shows, plays are always about people interacting with each other. How does your character interact with his parents, kids, siblings, boss, subordinates?

Get the other characters to explore how they would relate to each other in various settings. Would they be caring. argumentative, confused, critical, upset, etc.

9. Ask Questions: 

Ask questions about the character to your director and peers.

Get their take on how they perceive the character to be and how they act in various situation.

Even if they do not act in accordance with their expectation, knowing how others want you to be brings an awareness to your performance you may have had otherwise.

10. Trust Yourself:  

Trust yourself and your instincts as an actor.

This is a biggie! Having followed all the steps trust yourself and trust in the process.

Micheal Palin of "Monty Python" and his "Around the World Adventures," had this to say: "Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse then trust, trust, trust."


Takapuna, Auckland.


Studio111 is an acting school run by Sally Spencer-Harris. Please contact her for more information.

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