“Everything must be real in the imaginary life of an actor….A capacity to transform himself,  body and soul, is the prime requirement for an actor."
     Constantin Stanislavski   1863-1938
           Actor, Director, Educator

An actor is an instrument through which a character is played.  

Without the actor, words would lie motionless on the page.  A solitary reader would study
 the ideas silently, from a book.  But, an actor breathes life into the written word.  

Truly great actors wear their characters like a second skin.  They transform. To create a
 believable character, an actor immerses himself in an imagined life.  How do they do it?
Vocal Changes             Physical Changes

Dialect            Center**

Placement     Movement affected by Center 
Pitch Gestures, Nervous Ticks

Tempo/Pace Posture
Diction/Vowel Usage/Articulation        Tempo/Pace

Projection       Facial Expressions

Rhythm  Gait (Your walk )


     (Sing-Songy, Legato, Staccato, Stuttered)


**An actor's center is the point on the body from which movement originates.    If you were to imagine that the actor you are watching is being pulled across the stage/screen by a rope, where would that rope be connected?  That is their center.

For instance,  most often a pregnant woman's stomache leads her movement (Homer Simpson too!)  A prostitute's center?  Her hips.  A proud soldier?  His chest.  A really inquisitive snoopy person?  Her nose.  

Choose a part of your body to use as a center and spend 5 minutes walking allowing that center to lead the way.  How does it affect how you feel?  Your energy?  Your pace?  Does the rest of your body move differently?   How do you look at the world around you?

After walking with the center you chose, speak.  Say anything that comes to mind, or recite a monologue.  How is your voice affected?

Repeat this exercise.    Lead with your hands, chest, hip, nose, head as your center.  How are the characters you create through this exercise different? 

“In order to be emotionally involved  in the imaginary world  which the actor builds on the basis of the play, 
  in order to be caught up in the action of the stage,
 he (the actor) must believe in it."          Stanislavski
As a teacher, I have been using this exercise for almost 20 years.   I am pleased to share it online with students I may never have in a classroom.

You will learn a lot by watching good actors at work.  In this exercise on Character Development, we will study how an actor goes about physical and vocal transformations to "become" the character.

Studying these physical and vocal choices allows you to scratch the surface of learning about character development.   You'll need to dig under that layer to learn how to bring truth to the character by integrating the physical/vocal details with the character's inner life.

Every moment of a person’s life influences who that person is.  This is true for both you and your character.  The actor must study the psychological and sociological history of the character (in relationship to the script’s story) to develop a believable character.


Choose an actor from the list below to study.   Each actor link will lead you to a page with examples of that actor's work.

Make sure you have read the link about  the   physical and vocal changes, so you will know what to look for.   

1.Watch a few moments of an interview with the actor you are studying.   

  • Note how the actor moves, and gestures.  

  • What’s the actor’s natural voice?

  • What type of personality does the actor display?  

2.Next, watch all of the film clips of the actor you are studying. Watch them in a row, don’t stop
 and analyze.   Get a scope of a body of work.

3. Now, watch each clip and study the actor’s physical and vocal choices.
  •  Study how the actor transforms.  How do they alter their voice and body to convince us they are someone other than themselves? 

  •  Study the actor’s physical and vocal changes separately by turning off the sound to study the actor’s movement.  Then listen to the audio only to study vocal characteristics.


Discussion Questions:

Why have I chosen each of these actors, rather than others like Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis or Morgan Freeman?

Do you think the actor you watched film clips of is truly looking at the world through the eyes of the character?  Is the actor reacting to other characters and his environment and believable?

What will you  learn about the craft of acting by watching other actors?

ACTORS TO STUDY              
Johnny Depp
Nicole Kidman
Jamie Foxx
Daniel Day Lewis
Charlize Theron
John Malkovich
Dustin Hoffman
Robert DeNiro
Hilary Swank
Tom Hanks
Meryl Streep
Claire Danes
Sean Penn
Gary Sinise
Zak Efron
Looking for a monologue or scene for auditions or class work?  
Check out the work by Playwright/Director Kathryn G. McCarty

Halle Berry
Benicio del Toro
Scene Study
One Acts - Text

Monologue 101:  Intro