HOW YOU DO WHAT YOU DO IS CHARACTER. IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
What memorable characters come to mind when when you think of all the wonderful films, TV shows, plays and musicals you've experienced throughout your life? Now think about all the "characters" in your family, in your circle of friends, at work, throughout your life.
Would you agree that what makes these characters and these people memorable to you is the unique way in which they function, move, communicate, think, talk, react, express, smoke, drink, eat, dance, carry themselves, etc. It's the specificity in how they do that they do that creates their uniqueness, which is just another way of saying character.
So, if you're trying to figure out how to develop a character for a part you're working on, you should focus much of your attention on asking yourself specific questions about HOW your character would do what they do and WHY you believe your response is true.
You should never simply behave in a bizarre way, just because you think it's interesting or cool or funny or inventive. You must pay respect to the script and lift the character from the pages as opposed to impose your concepts on top of the script. Do the good wok needed for proper Character Analysis. I cover this topic in great detail in my blog "THE 3-LEGGED STOOL OF CHARACTER ANALYSIS"
Once you have the answers to the three foundation questions to start your character analysis: (1) What Do I Say About Myself?, (2) What Do Others Say About Me?, and (3) What Do I Do?, you can begin to look for the way in which your character would be true to themselves in a unique way.
Choose any character that you have played or would love to play and think about HOW and WHY they would:
Comb Their Hair
Pour A Cup Of Coffee
Set the Table
Cook a Meal
What did you realize about the specificity of HOW your character moves through life and HOW it's different from other characters and HOW it's different from the way you function in life.
There are thousands of examples that could be reference here, so I've randomly selected a few videos just to help bring the concepts to life. Watch these videos and pay close attention to HOW the actors create specificity for the characters in HOW they do what they do.
Watch the way Art Carney playing Norton in the TV show The Honeymooners writes a letter. The specificity of HOW he writes IS character.
Here's another one where Art Carney playing Norton "addresses the golf ball"
Of course, one of the masters in creating a character through the specificity of HOW is Lucille Ball in her show 'I Love Lucy'
Watch this video called "Riker sits down" - Someone posted a comment that "Will Riker doesn't sit. He Mounts." and it's so true. Watch how Jonathan Frakes sits. HOW he sits IS character. And sure, maybe this came out of necessity because Mr. Frakes is quite tall and the set was quite small, so it made practical sense for him to swing his leg over the chair to sit and stand. This behavior seems to be in conflict with his rank, but nonetheless, it defined him as a character.
Now, in great contrast to Jeremy Irons, watch how Andrew Dice Clay lights and smokes a cigarette in the 1980's film "Pretty in pink" - Both are SO different, yet both are so appropriate for their character. It's HOW they smoke that creates the character
Here's a quick homework assignment. The next time you are out and about town, do a bit of 'People Watching' and focus on HOW different people do the same thing: Walk, Talk on the phone, Eat, Sit/Stand, Read, Eat, etc. Take note of the uniqueness of each person and write down what you saw in your 'Observation Journal' so you can reference it later to help you when you're developing a character.
So, once again...CHARACTER IS CREATED AND REVEALED THROUGH THE SPECIFICITY OF DOING
AND HOW YOU DO WHAT YOU DO IS CHARACTER. IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. HOW HOW HOW.
I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.
Bye for now and Stay Safe My Fellow Travelers.
See you inside the Toolbox.