Guess what beloved TV character is described in this breakdown:
Droll. Dry. A wry observer of everyone’s life. And his own. Works in front of a computer doing something tedious in a claustrophobic cubicle in a nondescript office building. Gets by on his sense of humor. And snacks.
Maybe you’re thinking Homer Simpson, Dilbert, or someone from The Office.
It’s Chandler, from Friends.
Now that you know it’s obvious, right? And I’ll bet most actors who auditioned for the role of Chandler played him as beaten down office worker.
But Matthew Perry made the character so much more.
Granted we don't have the full audition sides. And Friends also had impeccable writing and a magical cast, but the point is this:
YOU are what makes the character come alive.
It’s your job as an actor to find all the places where you can make your characters real, raw and human.
When acting teachers talk about having a character or emotional arc, they don’t want you to make up something to show your range. What they want is for you to create a multidimensional character who has real feelings.
The key is to start with who you are.
If you don’t really know yourself, it’ll be harder to put yourself in your character’s shoes.
Meryl Streep puts it this way:
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s about finding the similarity in what’s apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
So how do you bring a character to life and get into her skin?
The first thing is to search for clues in the scene to discover your character's core and what’s driving her in this scene. Her why.
Remember how important it is to find your why? Same goes for your character.
Next, you need to align yourself with your character.
Alignment isn't just about job titles and personality. It's about identifying common underlying core qualities and shared natural talents.