Now, as an actor how would you know that you fit one of these archetypes? That if a role based on a particular character type was available out there; you would stand a fair chance? Well, before we answer that question, let’s look at some common character archetypes used in films and TV. Courtesy of the website psychcentral.com
The Everyman/Everywoman - Often the central protagonist. A person who more or less acts as the voice of reason. Sometimes these characters only play by the rules, and sometimes they don't. It's ever evolving, as per the needs of the story. The character of 'Jim Halbert' from the 'The Office' would be a perfect example of an everyman.
The Ruler - A character motivated by the need to control and power over others. They assume responsibilities and show leadership. They can be benevolent, just, righteous, as well as authoritative and intimidating. Example - ‘Daenerys Targaryen’ from ‘Game of Thrones’.
The Explorer - These characters are motivated by a desire for discovery and a fear of conformity. They are often seen on a quest, in search for something. They act on intuition and try to maintain their original self while trying to change the world. They often run a risk of not settling down or not having a normal life as they’re constantly on the move. A classic example would be the character of ‘Indiana Jones’ from “Raiders of the Lost Ark’.
The Caregiver - A character who by nature is nurturing and caring. These characters are happiest when they are making a difference in someone else’s life. Possessing a high amount of compassion and generosity, these characters often look after others who can’t protect themselves. Example - Sandra Bullock as ‘Leigh Anne Tuohy’ in ‘The Blind Side’
The Rebel - These characters rely on outrageous and radical methods to achieve their goals. They are essentially non-conformists. People with countercultural ideas who want to push the envelope ahead, mainly with an intention of creating a better world. They are generally respectful of other people’s opinions but can sometimes be reckless in their approach, concerning themselves only with the bigger picture at hand. Example - ‘Maverick’ in ‘Top Gun’
Coming back to our main question - How would you as an actor know that you fit in one of these archetypes? Well, the simple answer is - knowing yourself. That's basically what it is. Having a composite and honest understanding of your personality, your looks, your temperament, essentially everything that makes you who you are.
You can also dig further and focus on how other people perceive you. Your friends, your family, your co-workers. Studying their behavior towards you can you give you a key insight as to who you really are.
And if that’s not enough, do some healthy introspection. Have a reflective look back at your life. Do some detective work. Browse through all the scenes you're getting in acting classes. The kind of roles your friends are offering you in their short films. Once you see a specific pattern, well that answers your question.
You can then build on that knowledge. Even create a certain persona as you go out for those roles. Knowing fairly well that if your personality fits the character type a certain show is looking for, you stand a really good chance.
Now you may turn around and say that I look like a Warrior type character, say for example - a soldier or a police officer, but inside I'm an everyman. That's the kind of character I want to play. Fair point. As actors, you'll all have an innate desire to play different characters. To play people who're completely different from your actual personality. In the end, that's what acting's all about, isn't it? Experimenting and constantly reimagining yourself. Well, that's definitely possible too, to an extent of course. The only caveat being, that you have to convince whoever is responsible for casting that you have what it takes. That even though, you don't naturally exhibit any of those characteristics, you can deliver when the performance calls for it.
Well, again, harking back to the previous point, it all revolves around understanding the particular character type. And once you fully understand it, molding yourself to fit that character type. Making sure that once you walk into that room, the casting agents don't see you, but that specific character. That way, whoever you might be inside, it’s what you project outside, is what will finally determine whether you book that specific role.
In the end remember, the first impression is the lasting impression. What’s true in real life tends to be true when it comes to auditioning. You have to make it count!
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