Read the Script. Learn about your character. Understand the characters core qualities. Find clues about the merits of your character through his/hers actions and reactions to different situations. Determine your character’s motivation and align with your character. You are in the moment. You have now embodied the character; giving a complete and compelling representation.
The process of acting is no different [playing human or ape]. You’re embodying the character. You’re creating the psychology and the physicality. You’re living the moment.Andy Serkis
Most actors have expressed a problem embodying a character. As an actor, you cannot bring a character to life or connect to your audience if you cannot represent them appropriately. One skill every actor must have to succeed is embodying different roles so that the audience will feel it’s real. Luckily, you are in the right place.
After receiving a couple of questions, I decided to address this issue. I researched a few tips that have worked for other actors that you should try. Here is how to embody a character.
Learn your characters core qualities
The best way to learn the qualities of your character is by reading. Reading is a critical part of your acting career. In previous articles, we have emphasized the importance of reading plays, films, and any publications on acting. Reading is the backbone of your whole career.
Back to our topic, start by reading the scenes your character is featuring. They can help you figure out their core qualities according to the script. It’s also crucial to read the whole text if you have time. Reading will help you find clues about the merits of your character through his/hers actions and reactions to different situations.
You can also gather some necessary information about how characters relate to your character. Their reactions towards your role and how they respond in specific responses speak volumes of your character’s qualities. The way your character also relates and answers to other characters also sheds light. The key to finding this out is reading the script like a detective.
Also, remember not to commit the crime of assuming. Reading may give you clues but never rely on the profession. If the character in the script is an actor like you, that doesn’t mean you can “play” her. The two of you may have very different qualities.
Determine your character’s motivation
The key to embodying your character is understanding their reasons. It’s essential as you try to live your character’s life to put everything aside. The most important role for you is to understand your character and not the script or the scenes to come. Your character is the most critical part of the play for you.
After reading through the script keenly, you will be able to understand their intentions. Study their words., emotions, thoughts, etc. What drives them to act how they act or be who they are? If your character is an emotional wreck, why are they like that? Ensure you also study your characters interact with other actors in all the scenes. Master the relationships that affect the qualities of your character.
Remember that every action, reaction, or words said by your character have a motivation behind them. You cannot bring them to life like part of you if you dint find the motivation. Every thought behind the line trigger another line and the following lines. Find the trigger behind every word, action, or emotion, and you will realize that it has never been easier to embody the character.
Write down what you imagine your character is like if they were you
After reading through the script several and figuring out your character’s motivation and core principles, I always recommend that an actor write down everything they can imagine. If you don’t have a notebook to put down thoughts about your role, get one. It’s vital!
What do you think your character is feeling as they go through a particular scene? What would their actions be like? If the script does not describe physical activities that you should bring out in your lines, putting down your thoughts should help figure out what your character is doing on every scene.
Writing down also helps you put yourself in your character’s shoes. You should be able to imagine your character so you can bond with them and embody them. Once you have written everything down, go back to the script. Reread it and compare the notes you jotted down. The step ensures your imagination does not contradict the text. It will also help match the qualities you have learned and the reasons behind every action and emotion. Once everything feels okay, you are on the right track to embodying your character.
Align with your character
The other important tip that helps you to embody your character is finding the core qualities you share with your character. It’s a known fact that if you don’t connect with them, you won’t respect the role. It then follows that you won’t be able to adequately represent or bring the character to life. Alignment is, therefore, a critical step!
Can you identify where you and a character are aligned? Are you able to share in any of their emotions or core principles? While it’s possible not to connect to the role if you don’t understand and agree to some of their decisions and actions, its crucial to find a middle ground. How do you do this?
The first thing is you don’t have to agree to the character’s decisions. After writing down what you think the character is feeling when taking some actions, at least one or two core principles align with yours. What do you think you would do in the situation the character is in? Would you do the same? If not, dig for their reasons and try seeing things from their perspective. Connect to the feelings behind the action, and they may help you understand why they act in that particular manner.
It can be challenging to embody a character, especially when auditioning for a role. Let’s go over the tips, so they make sense. First, start by studying your role keenly. You will be able to identify qualities like determination, precision, focus, responsibility, shrewdness, go-getter, self-occupied perfectionism, and name it!
The second way to understand your character is to find their reasons. Why is your character the way they are or reacting in a particular manner? Are they angry because someone does an action sloppily? Remember, the role is a perfectionist. What if you don’t agree with their actions even after understanding their core principles?
how to embody a character
Align yourself with your character. Identify the values you both share. Don’t just look at the actions you dislike or disagree with, but the principles that resonate with you. Now put yourself in their shoes. These tips give you a powerful performance that will ensure you appeal to the audience.
RELATED ACTORS RESOURCES
HOW DO ACTORS ACT? HOW ACTORS CREATE EMOTIONS
DAILY ACTING EXERCISES – SEVEN ACTING EXERCISES TO DO ALONE
HOW TO BE A GOOD ACTOR OR ACTRESS
ACTING CLASSES – TYPES OF ACTING CLASSES (AND WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT THEM)
ACTING EXERCISES – 15 WAYS TO IMPROVE ACTING SKILLS
HOW TO ACT EMOTIONS – ACT OUT AN EMOTIONAL SCENE
ACTING LESSONS – HOW CAN I LEARN ACTING?
MICHAEL CHEKHOV TECHNIQUE – AN INTRODUCTION
ACTING FOR THE CAMERA EXERCISES – TIPS FOR ACTING ON CAMERA
HOW TO ACT BETTER – FIVE WAYS TO BECOME A BETTER ACTOR
MEISNER ACTING TECHNIQUE