Actor Struggles: My Stupid, Expressive Face
So I've been doing this acting thing for TV and Film professionally for a year now. I've managed to acheive a semblence of a career, a good start, a humble beginning if you will, but there's one thing in the way of me acheiving my film and tv acting goals: my stupid, expressive face.
'But Ollie, surely being expressive is entirely necessary as an actor?'
Yes, dear reader it is, but you see, for film and television a certain level of subtlety is required that I have yet to master
I had a casting last week for a recurring role in an American TV series, I watched the trailer: it's one of those action packed, quirky dramedies, a cross between Chuck and CSI. So I receive the sides and a character run down. Disgruntled IT dude who says crisps so is clearly a brit, 'Great!' I think, '...I'm disgruntled, I'm a geek, I'm british'...
Now the character is sarcastic, clearly doesn't mind what people think of him and is being rude to some inconsiderate guy getting crisps in his keyboard. How do I approach this role? I think about my whole demeanor: not just my face, but my body, why I act the way I do. How I need to find the comedy using inflection in my voice and face.
I spend a whole weekend thinking about it, half a day rehearsing in front of people who offer me advice. I'm told this is an audition, which is a word I read differently from a casting, so I'm not expecting the usual impersonal camera in my face, no-one to act with etc.
What happens when I arrive to the casting? There's a camera in my face and I've not got an actor to work with. Any acting I'm doing with my face is too much, because I was acting for a wider shot earlier in the day and I'm thinking about switching tac mid casting.
'But Ollie, couldn't you adapt?'
Yes, gentle reader, I could, but by lessening my natural expressionn, which every so often is interpreted as a tendancy to over-act I wouldn't be giving any actual performance. I'm not allowed to over express, but I'm naturally expressive, so I act.... less? And then what? I don't even give a half good version of what I had been practicing all day.
I've done a lot of learning in a year, I go to castings and I know what to expect, but my natural tendencies, which might not be ideal for film are often noted to me and I tone it down. Bare in mind, I've still been getting jobs, so it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't.
Today I did the text I had learnt for digruntled IT guy in the mirror, I made every effort to not express too hard with my face. You know what? I did it. Was it better?... Up close: absolutely. From anywhere other than that, it would not have read at all.
Lesson I've learned here: Next casting for a role like this: I will be as deadpan as possible. It won't be me, but then, that's what acting is, isn't it?