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modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz By Adam Hill What a Character By studying the backgrounds of the roles that we’re playing and looking at the actual person, actors and actresses can gain an edge in developing their own uniqueness W hat is my job as an actor? It is to live the life of a character truthfully and honestly. If I’m to live the life of a character truthfully and honestly, how do I get rid of me? You don’t. In the 600+ years since “Hamlet” was writ- ten, it has never been played the same way twice. Why? Because every actor who has portrayed the Great Dane has brought his or her own uniqueness to the role. Yes, I said his or her. Hamlet has also been interpreted by several women throughout history, most notably by Sarah Bern- hardt and Judith Anderson. Your job as an actor is to im- merse yourself with the character. “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s find- ing the similarities in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”—Meryl Streep When first attacking a role, the actor looks for all the similarities between himself and the character. He makes a connection that joins him to the character, an umbilical cord of sorts. He then seeks out all the dissimilarities before making a list of what needs to be worked on, to be embod- ied. The actor’s job is to make the character a real, breath- ing human being. Another Shakespearian character, Richard the Third, has a physical deformity. The actor play- ing Richard needs to manifest the physicality of his defor- mity. That actor needs to embody the pain of living every day of his life with such a deformity, eventually connecting himself emotionally and physiologically to that pain and Richard’s unseen scars, the ramifications of which are spo- ken in the first lines of Richard the Third. This opening line, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” 22 PAGEANTRY MOTHER AND CHILD: Actress Meryl Streep says she related to legendary chef Julia Child because of her spirit, not because of her skills in the kitchen. “Julia, that spirit was very like my mother's spirit,” Streep told Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer. “Joie de vivre. She had it. And a great sense of fun and (an) infectious ability to bring people along in whatever adventure she cared to take charge of.” lays the groundwork of a man, who in his own words is, “Deformed, unfinished, sent before his time into this breathing world, scarce half made up.” How does the actor get to understand what he needs in order to make his por- trayal of Richard truthful? Two masters of character work are unquestionably Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep. Each has recently embodied two individuals who existed in two different time periods and two very different worlds—Abraham Lincoln and Julia Child. No other actor could have performed these two historical paragons as did these two consummate ac- tors. Why? Because they aren’t Meryl Streep and Daniel Day Lewis. Both combined their individualities with what they learned about these two persons in order to produce what was so brilliantly portrayed on the screen. Other ac- tors, in their portrayals of Lincoln and Child, would natu- rally bring their instruments and their uniqueness to these roles, thus creating their own special versions of Lincoln and Child. ACTING IS HOMEWORK The answer to success in any field is the appreciation and application of comprehensive homework. Even if your as-