The Actor Makes The Character

This post goes along with last week’s post.

I’m a huge fan of Supernatural. The good people over at TNT have blessed Mom and I with three episodes of the show Monday through Friday.  We have watched seasons 1-8 in about five months, and now we’re on our second round.

When I first watched it, all I could focus on were the actors. Jared Padalecki from Gilmore Girls, and some other hot guy I had never seen before.

After I got over the fact that they are both very attractive, I started to watch their acting, especially Jensen’s.  One episode, I’ll guess number 31 (season 2 episode 9, “Croatoan”…what, I have an IMDb app), I focused on Jensen.  His acting is what captivated me from the very beginning, so I thought I’d watch him first.  I put aside his looks and his dialog, and I paid more attention to the emotion.  Having never watched the show, never even heard of it, I felt so much coming from him.  My God is he a dynamic actor.

Why am I talking about this?

Eric Kripke had a story.  He had the characters, he had the story line, he had the twists and turns and struggles and triumphs, heck, he may even have the ending.  Like us writers, he had a story, he just chose to make it into a show instead of a book.

Something happened in the newest episode (no spoilers) and a lot of people had something to say about it.  I’m pretty defensive, I guess, because I got mad at them (silently. I made a couple comments, but not enough to start a war).

After a while I got back to focusing on the storyline, as aggravating and stupid (in a nice way) as it was.  But now that I’m watching it from the beginning again, I know what’s coming up so I don’t have to wonder.  I can watch them react to what is happening at that time, and I can analyze their characters better.

I took the first round to get to know the characters.  What are their personalities?  Where are they strongest?  Weakest?  Why?  How?  How do they feel about themselves?  Each other?  Other people?  What’s their outlook on life?  Why?

This second round I got to know the actors.  How do they portray the characters?  What do they do to show their personalities?  What do they do to show their weaknesses and strong points?  How do they act?

You know what I realized?  The actor makes the character.  Sure, you’re writing this awesome character on paper, you’re showing their personalities and outlook and everything else I mentioned above.  But when it comes to the big screen, the actors don’t help, they don’t act like that character.  That’s why some movies aren’t as good as the book, the actors aren’t taking into consideration that the character is already there.  Or, on the flip side, someone else isn’t picking the right actor for the character.  Just because they’re popular, doesn’t mean they’re perfect for the part.

I was watching an episode of Supernatural and I looked at Jensen and wondered, “I wonder if he really is Dean.”  Dean is very protective and needs to take care of everyone, and Jensen as a person seems to me like he would be that way.  I know he’s a husband and a father, but that doesn’t mean anything.  My dad isn’t like that.  But anyway!

I’m sure we all have that tendency inside of us, and you could argue that he’s “just a good actor and knows how to act well.”  No, go away (wait, no, finish reading).

I can’t stand Sam.  He annoys me to no end.  The first mention of him being evil he’s all like, “I could hurt someone Dean, kill me now.”  Really Sam?  Really?  And Jared does a fantastic job of making me not like him (Sam, not Jared.  I like Jared).  Now there’s a good actor who knows how to act well.  God, Sam is annoying.  I mean, I understand why he is the way he is, but I just don’t like him most of the time.  He has his moments, and in those moments I forget about how annoying he is. Those are some great moments.

This is why I can’t watch certain shows, or I get bored. Either the characters aren’t very good and the actors show that, or the actors are wrong for the part. If you don’t do this already, the next time you watch a show, watch the actors. Watch the body language, the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the timing, and see if it goes along with the character. Would the character do that? Would the character act that way? Really dig into the show, look at the depth that makes the surface what it is.

Here’s my note: If something you write goes on to be a t.v. show or a movie, pick the right actors.  Please!  Hopefully your characters will be like mine and tell you who they want to play them, but I think I’m just blessed. Or I know my characters well.  Or I watch too much t.v.  Eh.

You guys get the point.  I’m out of here.  Talk to you next week!

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