What Does An Actor Do?
"I would like to become a successful film actor someday. As an avid movie fan, I find what Hollywood stars do rather easy. I somehow feel that I’m a natural-born actress because I can convince people to believe me even when I know that I am just acting. I know that what I know about acting is barely enough to scrape the surface so I’m interested in deepening my knowledge. There must be more to acting than simply delivering lines in front of the camera. What does an actor really do?"
asked by Kimberly D. from Rancho Cucamonga, California
You’re right in saying that “there must be more to acting than simply delivering lines in front of the camera.” In fact, being able to actually appear on film and portray a character can be considered as one of the fruits of an actor’s labors after doing other duties, most of the time unpaid. The road towards ultimately bagging a role is long and hard but the rewards are well-worth it.
One of the tasks of an actor—and often the one that requires the most perseverance—is auditioning for a role. In an audition, directors and producers often ask you to perform a monologue and/or do a cold read where you are handed a script to perform impromptu. How you fare in an audition will determine if you will get a callback or an invitation to do a second audition or an interview before you are finally cast in the role.
When offered a role, an actor has the duty to read the scripts. You will need to do this to determine if the project is something that you would like to accept. At this stage, you will also be attending several meetings with your agent and other professionals involved in the project to discuss it. In evaluating the role offered, you will have to consider things like how it is going to contribute to your acting career and your growth as an actor. If a contract is offered, it is also part of your duty to read the fine print before you affix your signature into it. Although your manager will do your due diligence for you, this does not mean that you should not read documents where you will be the main signatory.
After accepting a role, it is an actor’s job to do research on the character. If the film is based on a bestselling novel, for example, you should take the time to actually read the book to gain a deeper understanding of the character you are set to portray. If it’s the role of a doctor you are playing, perhaps a trip to the hospital will help you glean a deeper understanding of this profession. Researching a character may also involve learning a new skill like fencing, swimming or martial arts. The more you understand and know the character you are going to play, the more authentic your performance is going to be.
An actor needs to memorize his lines. This is a very crucial part in ensuring that your performance is smooth and flawless. Directors and other members of the film crew appreciate actors who know their lines inside out because it makes taking scenes quick and easy.
On shooting day, the director will usually ask actors to do a practice run before letting the cameras roll. You and other actors will be rehearsing the performance under the guidance of the director. You’ll be told how to move in front of the camera and how to improve your delivery of the lines as well.
When the shoot starts, the ultimate task of an actor is to perform and give justice to the role. Although the final product already showcases the movie in its entirety, you need to understand that shooting is hard work. If the director is not satisfied with your performance or technical glitches are encountered, you will be asked to shoot the scene all over again. If the role calls for you to be drenched in rain or thrown in the mud, this is something that you will have to perform.
The job of an actor does not end when shooting wraps up. Although less difficult than the actual shooting process, your next task will involve promoting the movie. While the responsibility is often given to the lead actor and actress, the supporting cast may also be asked to do the same. You’ll grace talk shows and attend press conferences and interviews. Your wit, personality and yes, even your fashion sense, will have to shine in these encounters as it will help encourage audiences to watch your movie.
The job of an actor is a multi-faceted one. Delivering lines in front of the camera is just one part of it. You’ll need to be prepared for these duties if you truly want to become a successful actor.