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Knowing Your “CORE” of Acting

For many of my students I try to encourage them to learn what I call, the CORE of acting. That does not mean, all the different techniques, taught by many really-good acting coaches in Los Angeles, but the CORE of what the character represents. Meaning, why is the character doing what they do, (usually all characters have a reason for why they are the way they are) and it is up to the actor to find the reasons, trying always to pick positive reasons, even if the character is making negative choices….like a bad guy or girl.

It is important to pick positive reasons so that the audience can understand and like the character. Example might be: I am taking advantage of this person because they did something very bad to someone in my family.

To play a bad, mean, dishonest person and to show that at the beginning of the character’s entrance or scene, is what I call, “playing the end.” You do not want to give away the ending of why the character is this way. Let the audience discover the reasons.

Sometimes playing a nasty person can be funny and yet still be scarey. Humor is based off of fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. If you study the history of Circus, you will find out that even the horses in the merry-go-round have their eyes open in fear and the clown faces are always exaggerated to the point were some children might even cry. The movie director from Italy, Fellini goes into this with some of his films. We laugh when we experience a “near death ride” at a theme park because we are relieved.

The CORE means: What does your character stand for? What are the boundaries that should not be crossed? Why is the character acting this way? what are their dreams? –to get married? Be successful in business? etc,). Is this dream met? The CORE is what causes conflict and conflict is important to character. We never just say how we really feel even in real life, we are covering what is really going on in our minds and this is called “covering in acting” and the covering adds many levels to the character, making it very interesting to watch.

I always admire the actor who starts out unlikable and then we discover how much we really are drawn to what their CORE is, like the TV show “DEXTER”. Many people seem drawn to the “why” of what the character is doing, even if it doesn’t fit into our own moral code of behavior.

The CORE is the Why and what happened to make you (the character) this way. This also includes the back-life and choices made by the character that brings them to this moment of their life. I will speak about this in one of my other blogs.

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