Category "Acting Rules"

Acting Rule #3 – You ain’t no puppet

Think like the character.

When I am watching an actor I am teaching on camera I can always tell what they are thinking. Maybe not the exact, specific words, however defintely in the ball park of what is going on.   When they are thinking in character about everything that is going on in the scene their thoughts are focused, completely in sync with the moments of the script. However, when they are not, it is clearly obvious through this on-camera medium that the thoughts are of the actor themselves, concerned, searching for lines, wondering how they are doing, what I am thinking about their performance, what the other actors in class are doing or going to say, etc.

If you are an actor, you probably understand what I am saying.

It is never enough to just say the words of the character.  That is the craft of memorizing. That is only one level of acting.

An actor must meld the language of the script with the thoughts the character.  Sometimes even completely thinking something opposite of what they are saying.  Just like in real life you sometimes don’t say exactly what you mean. You could be lying. You could be trying not to hurt someones feelings. You could be hiding something.  You could be remembering something wrong.  You could be guarding yourself. You could be trying to cover for something else that is going on and don’t want the characters you are talking to to discover that ‘something’ else.  The list is endless to why.  The idea is that your thoughts won’t be heard. So just like in life, often characters thoughts are those that will hopefully not be heard.

And in acting, you MUST be thinking if there is any hopes of feeling the characters feelings and then saying the lines of the scripts truthfully .  Even if that is truthfully lying.

“Comedy or drama. The rules are the same.  Think like the character or else you are just you, saying someone else’s words. That is a puppet.

You are an actor. Not a puppet.”  Kid Yoda

Acting Rules: The question is sometimes the answer.


To act or not to act and just be?  That is the question.

-Gayla Goehl, Acting Elements

There is a common mistake in using the word ‘acting’. Often a new student of acting or their parent thinks that this means to ‘pretend’ and even more often they think it means to pretend ‘unrealistically’.

If, when you are acting, you feel fake, then stop. Being fake more won’t suddenly make you truthful. Tell yourself to ‘stop acting’ and instead just be.  Maybe that means to be ‘in character’ or be ‘more centered’ or be ‘in the moment’.

There are many ways of thinking about using the word ‘be’ instead of ‘act’. What ever makes you the most truthful in the moment is the best choice.

Read the quote again.

Which ever works best for you is the answer.