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    #31
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
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    It's totally collaborative. I think ideally the director, writer and actor have a healthy give and take about what the final result will be. This way things get explored from different points of view than if one of the three rules the choices. Ultimately it's the director's call to make the final decision, but a smart one will be very open to input from the other two, and to acknowledging that a better solution than his own pre-imagined one can often be discovered.

    As an actor, I usually start building my interpretation of a role by deciding whether to play it fundamentally as either "a character" or "a real person in a real situation". In all cases, underlying the performance will be the notion of "playing the idea" of the overall role, scene, or line as I discussed in another thread here called "Process".

    A role approached from 'character' will have a certain detachment from reality that is permissible because the world is viewed through the somewhat (and often very) distorted lens of the character's quirks. An actor like Steve Buscemi is almost always coming from this place, although I have no idea whether he'd agree with me on that perspective, nor would it matter, since I'm just discussing my own process. The more "character-y" the role is, the less I need to focus on the character's grasp of reality, because their inner world is where they live, not in the real one. I just move myself into that world, and choices start fall into place naturally.

    The actual role in question might be a Buscemi-like or even further extreme, or something as innocuous as the TV reporter I played from character because reporters on duty aren't being "real". They're coming from a highly specific agenda - an act, really. So it worked.

    For roles where the 'real person' approach works, it's about reacting intuitively to real situations, not fundamentally different from how I would react myself if I were that person and it happened to me in real life. The "pretended reality" is much more substantial there, and much more important to inhabit profoundly.

    I get a lot of corporate mastermind/cult leader/dad/authority figure roles for some reason, and I play pretty much all of these from the reality place, not primarily from character. Those types people are generally quite lucid and self-aware, so a fundamentally character-based approach is usually overkill. Not that there isn't plenty of room to individualize the performance as a specific person with his own set of personality quirks, but unlike the character driven approach, quirkiness isn't the driving force.

    Most of Dustin Hoffamn's most memorable roles are examples of the 'character' approach (Tootsie, Rain Man, Midnight Cowboy, etc.). Most of Morgan Freeman's would exemplify the 'reality' approach.

    I hope this is pertinent to the original question!
    Last edited by Ted Spencer; 08-11-2008 at 07:26 AM.
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


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    #32
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    Hmm, I don't think the "real person" and "character" approaches are mutually exclusive. I think what you want to do is create a unique character that feels like a real person. Afterall real life is full of weird, quirky characters. I think what one might want to do is to think about what would cause a real person to behave the way this quirky character behaves in the script, and work that into one's act.


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    #33
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seunosewa View Post
    Hmm, I don't think the "real person" and "character" approaches are mutually exclusive.
    They're not mutually exclusive, and it's not a 'limiting' choice (my words). It's a jumping off point - a matter of process, not definition. In both cases the process allows for huge freedom of choice, and most importantly access to the intuitive, non-thinking side of one's consciousness.

    II think what one might want to do is to think about what would cause a real person to behave the way this quirky character behaves in the script, and work that into one's act.
    I understand what you're saying, and I don't mean to disgree too strongly, but I'm very wary of this type of role 'planning'. Overthinking the approach is very easy to do, and can kill the realism quite easily. Background details are great, but as the renowned coach Harold Guskin says about acting, "If you've got a road map, you're doomed". My best acting performances have all happened when I was almost completely free of any preconceptions.

    Otherwise, as any good actor knows, it's different strokes for different folks. For example, I'm not a Meisner fan, but it's undoubtedly worked very well for many actors. What I described above works well for me. Perhaps it will be useful for some other folks who read it here too.
    Last edited by Ted Spencer; 08-11-2008 at 09:41 AM.
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


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    #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Spencer View Post
    What I described works above well for me. Perhaps it will be useful for some other folks who read it here too.
    I agree. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


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    #35
    Member tasialabastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Spencer View Post
    Overthinking the approach is very easy to do, and can kill the realism quite easily.
    I agree. Ideas kill the moment. Meaning, if you're reading a script and you have an idea of how you'd like to play that part, it will almost always come out very stiff and unrealistic.

    Spontaneity within the realm of the character is magic.
    Will act for food! | The Blog | The Site


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    #36
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seunosewa View Post
    I agree. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    You're most welcome.

    Damn typos though - what I meant to say was "What I described above works well for me", not "What I described works above well for me".

    I type like a retard...good think I act a little better : )
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


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    #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by tasialabastro View Post
    Playing pretend is one of the hardest things to do, at least at the level we used to do it as children. When I was younger, I could easily pretend a toilet paper roll was a flashlight. I can pretend to do that now, but I feel an audience would sooner believe the younger me than the current me.
    I've been involved in a few productions with children. It is really amazing how a young kid can be a very good actor, and then lose it on becoming a teenager.

    I'm always impressed when I see an adult convincingly portray a child who is playing pretend.


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    #38
    Actor!!!!!! Tom Marshall's Avatar
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    The problem is, when they become a teenager, they become self-conscious of everything they do. Children aren't concerned about self image, really, so they're not focused on it.
    Actor / Musician


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    #39
    Member tasialabastro's Avatar
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    Exactly what I was getting at.
    Will act for food! | The Blog | The Site


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