How To Create A Convincing Character

Robert De Niro

If you want to be a great actor you should know the importance of conveying a character as well as staying in character. Anyone can read words off of a page, but truly creating a convincing character takes much more than that. Your goal as an actor is to be able to tell a story. What type of person are you? What events have happened and how are you affected by them? There can be a laundry list of questions. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in the direction of creating a convincing character whether it be on screen or the stage.

1. Get Into It

You should immerse yourself in the role. Forget the audience is watching you and forget that your mom is in the front row. You need to focus on your character and how they feel. Be in the moment. You can use sense memory to help with this. Sense memory is a technique, developed by Stanislavski and Strasberg, where a person can access their subconscious memory to bring emotional truth to their work. They can access the memory of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. For example, if your character is stuck in a long dark alley and it’s full of trash, you can try to recall a memory of you being fearful in the dark at some point in your life or recall a time when you were faced with an unpleasant odor. These small details can make a big difference when conveying feelings.

2. Be Prepared

Make sure to carefully read through your lines as well as memorize them. If you don’t study your lines you will be unprepared and it will show in your performance. It will also take you out of character. Take the time to read through the script with your fellow actors and take rehearsals seriously while of course still enjoying the process.

3. Take A Moment

Take a moment to breathe in your scene.  Don’t just regurgitate the lines, but take a moment to take in the environment, and the other characters/actors in the scene.  Build and feed off of the scene and what the other actors are giving you. Take that split second to let it all affect you and process how your character will react.  This can also apply to auditions where you may be given a cold reading. A cold reading is text or script that is un-rehearsed and is often given to you at an audition. Take a moment to look over the lines and make choices about your character, think about how your character will react. It’s often fine to ask the casting director if you can take a moment.

4. Focus

Pay attention to what is going on around you in the scene. Be in tune with what other actors are doing and saying. By doing so you will have a more natural reaction to what’s going around you. Focus will also help you to not break character be present in the moment. Learning to focus more can be developed through rehearsals. However if you find yourself forgetting a line or you drop a prop on stage, just keep going. Life often throws us curve balls so just react naturally.

The more experience you get with rehearsals, auditions, and performance the more you will find yourself feeling comfortable and confident in your skin and your characters skin. You can use these tips to guide you in a direction that presents a convincing character. Break a leg!

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy, with campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
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