On Reading For the Role

You’ve got the sides. Those two pages upon which your dreams rest. And they are bad. So bad. The character motivations difficult to discern, the writing stilted. How do you craft a character from what is on the page? The most effective tool for dealing with sub-par, or confusingly incomplete, sides is to create backstory. Unless you are reading for the role of Juliet in the Shakespearean tragedy, the chances are you won’t know anything about the role other than “Rachel gets out of the shower. She is upset.” Who is this “Bill” guy she’s talking to? Father? Lover? Casting directors aren’t looking for you to correctly guess the plot of the story. They want to see what you will come up with, given the admittedly sparse amount of lines. They want to see you make a choice. When you act upon Bill as if he is your lover, when he is really your brother, you are making a choice. If you make it powerfully, if you make it convincingly, that is all that matters. Obviously, if any information is furnished (BECKY SPEAKS WITH A LISP) you would do well to regard it, but the audition, just like your actor reel, is meant to highlight your skill in the context of the role itself.If you own the role, and really make it yours, no one can take it away from you. If, in your mind, Rachel is getting out of the shower because she just finished her shift at the hospital, embody that context and drive it home. You want to leave any audition feeling as if you’ve created a solid, believable character given the tools (or lack thereof) that you have been given. And you want to leave believing that you were so powerful that the only reason you might not get the role was because they were looking for a blonde, not a brunette. Acting is a funny business, but the actors that we remember are the ones who can make any line, no matter how cheesy, seem full of meaning. Even throwaway lines like “I’m going to walk my dog,” or “I think I twisted my ankle” turn into beautiful things when delivered by Meryl Streep or Al Pacino. So own your character, whatever it is, by delving deep into who they may be, rather than simply taking your cue from the lines on the page.

Author: Amanda Glassman - LA REELS

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