Whether you are new to the entertainment biz or have been around for a while, you have got to read Brian's tips!

The difference btwn a good actor and a GREAT ACTOR
Total posts: 27
Joined: 10 year(s) ago
Posted 12:54 PM May. 29, 2014

Your Very Important Acting Lesson for the Day.

Hi this is Jay from DragonukConnects, and today I am going to give you two important acting tips that for many of you will hopefully change your acting career to a new level! So sit back and enjoy this story.

It was back in 1998, I was called in for an audition. The Washington Wizards had a new ad campaign, and they were looking for a principal actor with my specs for a commercial.

Well I went in to the casting office and I found out that the part I was auditioning for was a guy in a bar that has an argument with another guy in a bar, which led to them going outside to physically fight it out. But the twist of the scene was...when we both take off our jackets and turn around to face each other for our brawl, we both notice that we were both wearing Washington Wizard Jerseys.

Of course after the surprised looks on both our faces, we realize that we are both fans and the commercial culminates with a hug and a voiceover that said, "Are you a Wizard fan?" and told the viewer how to get tickets.

Seems simple enough, right? Now what I did not tell you was that 1998 was my first year of acting, and although I had done many extra parts, as well as a few supporting roles in some low/no budget films, I had not yet scored a principle role with a professional casting office, so I was a bit nervous.

So I signed in at Central Casting, and sat and waited for my turn. But as I sat there, I could hear the actors in the next room auditioning. Due to the extreme rage of the characters' roles (two guys having a fight in a bar) you could easily hear everybody's auditions. And then I got even more nervous. I thought, not only am I in my first audition for a principal role, but all the other professional actors, waiting for their turn, will hear me!

So while I waited and went over my lines, I had an internal fight with myself. I asked myself how badly I wanted this role? Yes, I wanted it bad, and had dreamed of the day that I could win a television role such as this. But what if I'm not good enough? I mean there are guys in this room that have been doing this their whole life! Yes my brain went back and forth, and in and out.

But in the end, I got mad at myself. I thought, "Are you going to give up your dream because you think you're not good enough? If that's the case, you might as well leave now!" My answer was a stern "NO!" I decided then and there, regardless of whether I was awarded the part...I was going to give it my all and BECOME the guy in the bar...Regardless of who could hear me. I'm either an actor...or I'm not! So when I was called, I went in and did my part with all the rage and emotion that I could muster up.

A few days later, I was filled with joy when I found out that I got the job!!

But then came the actual day of filming. They were shooting at night in a downtown DC bar and as I went in, there were at least 100 crew and extras there and yeah, I did get a bit nervous. For a few days before the shoot, I had pictured just a handful of people in my mind. But although this was a bit overwhelming at first, I kept the previous lesson in my mind and by the time we started shooting, I was filled with confidence and ready to go.

So Tip #1 is: Get rid of all inhibition and become the character. Most of you already know this and have found much success in doing this. But it's Tip #2 that will separate the good from the great. So read on.

But during the shoot, a new problem arose. I had no problem with part one - Getting angry and arguing with another bar patron. The problem arose when we filmed the "surprise" scene. When we both took off our jackets, and turned around to see each other wearing Wizard Jerseys, we were told to be surprised and then elated. It sounded easy enough really.

But after 5 takes, the director pulled me aside. He did his best to explain that I just wasn't giving the same reaction that I had given in the audition. I didn't quite understand what I was doing wrong. Or not doing right. He tried his best again to explain that there were 4 or 5 levels of emotion that I had shown in the audition. 4 or 5 levels of emotion?? All I knew was, one - to be surprised. And two - to then be elated!

We took a break. I went off by myself. Although what I taught myself during that time was a game changer for my acting career, it took me years to really understand it the way I do now. So I'll try not to bore you and try to explain it quickly, but I assure you, if you've never thought about this, this little secret will improve your acting career exponentially.

The brain, although able to process thoughts pretty quickly, still must go through a process. Your brain...ever since you were a baby has been organizing thoughts and memories much the way you set up folders and files on a computer. Every time you receive a new piece of information, you file it in a folder in your brain. And most of the time, depending on how important the information is, you can access it pretty quickly. BUT...NOT INSTANTLY. And an actor showing their reactions to new information must show that brain process of accessing information to the audience through facial expressions to seem real.

So in the case of my character in this Wizards commercial, I take off my jacket, quickly turn around ready to fight, expecting to keep my rage and have a fist fight. But...When my character sees something totally different than what he expects, the brain needs to go through a process with that new info. So here is what I came up with and the director loved it.

1) I turn around in full rage, ready to fight.
2) I see that the other character is wearing the same shirt as I am. A bit of a mystified look comes upon me, head goes back a bit and eyes start to squint with unsurity. Am I really seeing this?
3) Surprise starts to come over me, but not fully. My brain is still processing. My mouth starts to open a bit with awe and my eyes begin to open wider.
4) Eventually my brain has fully processed the event and elation comes.
5) Both characters' brains have now fully processed the situation and are now fully persuaded that there is no more threat. They quickly go to each other, fully elated for a manly hug.

Now please understand that the full 5 steps only took just a couple of seconds. But that's how the human brain works, and we as actors need to understand this for the audience to relate to us. Whether our role is in a movie, a commercial or on stage.

So Tip #2 is - Reaction is not instantaneous! In becoming the character, part of that character is how they process the information going on around them, using certain facial expressions that the audience and other characters can relate to. Each character you portray, may have a different way of processing that information.

Now I'm going to give you some homework... Don't worry, it'll be fun. Let's imagine you have a part in a movie. In that role, you had a spouse who had passed away many years ago, and you have done your best to move on, but no matter how hard you try, you still miss your spouse deeply and cry in bed nightly. So here is the scene...You are in your home paying the bills. The doorbell rings. You're a bit irked by the interruption. And perturbed, you go to the door. You open the door and see...your spouse! They're alive! Your homework is...How do you react??? Talk about the brain needing to process information! All the thoughts that would go through your head! Think about all the facial expressions!

I recently watched the show VEEP, a show that many in the Mid-Atlantic area are familiar with, as they shoot in Baltimore and DC. This was a two part season finale of season 3. Now if you haven't seen these two episodes (9 & 10), I hate to spoil the story for you, but this is important. Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) finds out that the President is resigning and that in 48 hours, she will become president! What goes through a person's head when they suddenly find out that in 48 hours, they will become the most powerful person on the planet! How would you react?? Well Julia's reaction is priceless and absolutely LOL funny! If you haven't seen it and don't have HBO, I urge you to go to Amazon and buy the episodes for just a few bucks. After seeing this, you'll know why she won the Emmy for this role! Her character is so quirky and in just a few minutes she takes you on an emotional roller coaster!

So here's a bonus tip...The next audition you go in for, although it's your job to go through your lines and do your best to show proper emotion...Your real job is...TO CREATE AN UNFORGETABLE CHARACTER THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN RELATE TO! And how do you do that?? By being creative. By saying your lines differently than the last 10 actors. By showing quirky and creative emotional REACTIONS to the lines that are fed to you. The more you do this, the more roles you will obtain, as the people casting will know that you're not just a good actor, but A GREAT ACTOR!!

Total posts: 27
Joined: 10 year(s) ago
Posted 5:24 PM May. 30, 2014
Your Very Important Acting Lesson for the Day!
Total posts: 1
Joined: 4 year(s) ago
Posted 11:43 PM Sep. 12, 2015

Thank you for this very important tip!

Total posts: 1
Joined: 4 year(s) ago
Posted 9:56 AM Mar. 1, 2016
Great article. Absolutely what CD's look for in auditions!