Allen Levin

In a post asking what actors would like to read about, Camila requested the following:
“Dealing with scene partners and the differences in working styles”

Ahmed requested the following:
The Chameleon Actor, I saw an episode from friends (saw the whole show) and Joey said the he can play any role he can possibly play, like Meryl Streep for example, she is a Chameleon A) is that a really thing and B)how do you know of you’re one

So, for Camila it’s important to know that actors have very different rehearsal styles and only some will be compatible with yours. You can absolutely get through any scene while negotiating any differences, but know that you don’t have to force your way through a scene if it’s not working out with a partner. You can tell them, “I really respect your acting style. It’s different from mine and really fascinating.” Try to get the scene up. If you can’t, if their way is too different you can ultimately tell them, “Tell you what. Let’s recast each others roles. This way we can both still do the scene, but with other actors. Let’s just call it creative differences.” Try to keep the energy positive and don’t incorporate any judgment. If they are offended that’s unfortunate, but it may happen.

The great thing about training is that you can control with whom you act. That’s not so when you get on a professional set. For this reason it’s best to try to make the scene work, but if you can’t enjoy the liberty to recast the part and find someone with which you work well. It’s completely fine to work with the same couple actors for the bulk of your scene work in class. Work with the people you love acting opposite. Challenge each other onward and UP. In terms of consistently working with tons of different actors there are pros and cons. I’d say mainly work with the people who have compatible working styles to your own.

When you are working with other actors no one should be directing. If someone’s “style” is to tell you what to do, how to feel, what to play, or even your blocking, just say to them with a nice energy, “I’ll figure that all out on my own. I know you mean well, thanks.” No one should be directing your scene. They should simply be acting honestly with what is in front of them.

As for Ahmed let’s remember that “Friends” is a sitcom. Most of the “acting advice” you see in film and television shouldn’t be taken to heart. What’s important when you are breaking in isn’t the wide range of different character’s you can bring. It’s can you bring this one character truthfully. Ultimately, as a character actor you’ll have a wide range or roles on your reel. For now, don’t worry about that. Break in. Find your specific entry point and major in it.

Ahmed is lucky as his casting is very specific. He can play a tech geek like no ones business. He can play a loner / high school shooter. He can play any of a range of nerdy, non-women getting young men that are socially awkward. That’s AWESOME! Those are great parts and they are in high demand. So Ahmed, for now, get your nerd roles. Later you can play the killer. We’ll never see it coming. You will break in with a very specific entry point. As for Joey, let him stick to “How you doin??” Anything he says about being an actor is much more geared to being funny (as it should be) rather than being truthful. Any acting note you see in film or television, run it by me before you start making adjustments in your work.

Is a chameleon really a thing for an actor? Not really. There is simply a character actor. There is also a lead actor. Now we also have character leads. Its exciting to see Meryl streep (once the most iconic leading actor) now as a character actor. August, Osage County. See it if you haven’t and see it again if you have! What a role!

For “how do you know if you are one” it’s important to determine if you are a leading actor, who has the job of falling in love and out of love and is the main actor in the film, or a character actor (chameleon, if you really want…. it’s not a thing…. but it is now in this blog!) who creates different characters from the ground up, from project to project. You are a chameleon. There! You got me to say it. Yes. Chameleon / Character actor. That’s you. You can create a list of the characters you play often. Describe them in your list. Even name them. Also, go ahead and read “The Eight Characters of Comedy” by Scott Sedita. That’s an assignment for anyone wishing to break into sitcoms.

Hope I’ve answered your questions. Feel free to ask more!

Onward and UP.

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