3 Activities to Help Actors Fully Commit to a Character

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Q: How do you fully commit to a character and make strong choices?—@mads_miller*

As actors, our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—is both our greatest gift and our greatest challenge. When we fully commit to a character, the audience truly gets to go on a ride. In fact, your commitment to character has the power to impact and open hearts and minds.

There are several exercises you can try in order to create and commit to your character. I’ll share a few of my favorites to help you get started. 

Mine the script for clues. 
The writer will often let you in on character traits throughout the script. These will be found in character descriptions, what your character says about themselves, and what other characters say about your character. Take your time with this, and write down what you find so you can refer back to your research. 

READ: How to Become an Actor

Ask yourself what you and the character have in common.
As an audiobook narrator, I often have to develop characters on the fly. Something I’ll ask myself to get in character efficiently is: What do I have in common with this character? Do we move similarly, talk the same, or share similar interests? Is the character my age, or older or younger than I am?

Then, of course, explore those differences, and choose one or two to explore in detail.

Take your character for a walk. 
Once you’ve discovered what you have in common and what’s different, try this character on for size, literally. Explore the way they walk and talk, and be open to feeling silly as you try a few options. What is their status compared with other characters in the scene? Once you’re clear on how you’ll play the character, go all in. 

Still having trouble committing? I recommend writing a journal entry as your character. Journal writing is where we get to see our inner monologue come out to play. Creating a character playlist can be fun, too. 

*Submit questions for our Experts on Backstage’s Facebook or Twitter accounts or via our forums page at backstage.com/forums!

This story originally appeared in the April 1 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Elise Arsenault
Elise Arsenault is an actor, coach, and founder of The Global Actor. She offers private and group coaching for actors looking to book work and live life in multiple markets. Get your #GlobalActor GPS at www.workwithelise.com/globalactorgps.html. More at www.theglobalactor.com.
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