We’ve said quite a bit about letting yourself be your character. To act as they do and think as they do. There is a lot of study involved in this, and you must have amazing powers of observation. For a lot of characters, the only way you can nail them is if you’ve spent time observing diverse people and understanding them. You’ve got to have an open mind and a willingness to learn.
But before you can be someone else, you’ve first got to be comfortable with yourself. We’re constantly bombarded with images that tell us that we’re not perfect. That we’re too fat or thin, too tall or short, that our manners aren’t as refined as we wish them to be, that we aren’t speaking as well as we should. We care too much about how we present ourselves to people and try to fit in to an ideal image that we hold in our minds.
When you bring these concerns into your acting, you cannot do a good job. So you have to train yourself to stop being self-conscious. As an actor, your job is not to be a perfect person. You’re there to be real and true to your character. And characters are mostly imperfect people.
As an actor, you will have to do things that make you uncomfortable or scared, things that make you look bad, or even downright disgusting. Remember Nicholas Cage eating a cockroach for Vampire’s Kiss? He reportedly said in an interview, “Every muscle in my body didn’t want to do it, but I did it anyway.”
When you’re acting, you, as the actor, disappear. Nobody cares if you’re fat, thin, tall or short, whether you have flabby arms or a muffin top or whatever. They only care about what your character is. And since you are your character, you have to transform yourself, be willing to embrace and show off those less desirable sides of yourself. The more you forget yourself and be your character, the better your audience will react to you and your work. And the more you get comfortable with yourself and your body, the more you will be willing to step out of your comfort zone to attempt more diverse roles.
So throw your inhibitions out of the window, say goodbye to self-consciousness. Forget about sucking in that stomach; if you’re doing theatre, you’ve got to let your diaphragm be free if you’re going to project your voice. Occupy the space you need and command the attention you want. And most importantly, stop judging. Don’t judge yourself, and don’t judge others.