Creating a believable character in a film is a difficult and delicate task, and some characters are certainly more difficult to bring to life than others. Here are some tips from Backstage.
What would your character do? This is an essential question to ask yourself as you’re studying the ins and outs of the fictitious individual you set out to play. Specific scenarios will help you develop a strong sense of just who this individual is. For example, you might ask yourself: What would he/she do in a life or death situation? This scenario evokes strong emotions and positions you well to understand the inner workings of your part.
Be realistic. Your character has to be as believable as possible for the audience to connect with him or her. This means the character has to have depth. The audience needs to know this person’s habits, quirks, mannerisms, and speaking style, and you have to emulate each of these pieces well. If it seems far too awkward to bring forward a certain trait, chances are this awkwardness will be apparent. You can work with the director to modify certain aspects as necessary, but never take on a role expecting to have this flexibility. At the end of the day, if the character has to look, act, speak or move in a certain way, there’s probably not that much wiggle room.
Find a real-life twin. One technique actors often use is to find someone who is similar to the character they are tasked with bringing to life. This may be someone who dresses as the character, wears similar makeup or their hair in the same distinct way. Maybe they speak like this fictitious person, have a similar job, or are from the same part of the world. Try to find someone who you have access to who is somewhat like this individual and study them – preferably with their knowledge. They may allow you to recite lines with them, or just go out and get to know them better. Sometimes simply being in their presence can be extremely helpful.
Obviously, bringing a fictitious character to life can be tedious and time-consuming. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the project as much as possible and do the necessary prep work. Many seasoned actors are used to transforming aspects of their day-to-day routine while trying out a new personality so they can really “get to know” their role on a personal level and have this translate into the film. Do whatever is necessary to put forth your best effort. After all, this is your career and it’s worth it!