Through Character-Coloured Lenses

The hallmark of a good actor comes with the ability to make everything seem easy. So easy, in fact, that it seems like they are walking, breathing and living the character that they are playing. It is mesmerising to watch. How, then, can we as actors, bring such complexity and depth to the roles we play?

The answer is simpler than you think: interpret the world as your character. Open your eyes and watch the world through character-colored lenses.

Think about how you go about your daily lives. You interpret the world according to your own set of beliefs and experiences. Every situation you encounter is coloured by your own thoughts. Walking to the bus-stop may be an activity that is mundane enough for you to start thinking about about the food you’ve just had for lunch. Or, it could be a necessarily daily routine where you mentally organise the chores you have to do later that day. Your thoughts and actions are informed by your activities in the past, your worries, intuitions, concerns about the future, and so on. In other words, what you do is uniquely you, and you react to situations in a way that’s also uniquely you. Going back to the example with the bus-stop, the person who considers it a mundane activity might welcome an interruption in the form of an old acquaintance who is heading the same way. The one who considers the walk a necessary routine might be irritated at the interruption.

Understand your character – what would s/he do in such and such a situation? What are your character’s motivations? Think of events from your character’s point of view and you will realize just how dynamic and complex your character’s world is. Once you’ve internalised your character, you’ll be able to portray your character in a more believable and (seemingly) effortless way.