The Most Crucial Aspect of a Performance, in order to deliver a compelling performance.
What do you want from the other person?
An actor may have learned their lines, done their blocking, maybe even worked on a dialect, but no answer to this seemingly simple question: What do you want from the other person?
Some call it the objective, the intention, or the goal of the scene. My experience shows me that very few actors can answer this in one short sentence on a gut level.
What do you want the other person to know, realize, or do? Each line you speak is to be delivered with that goal in mind.
Every line has a different action to realize that goal — to persuade, to threaten, to plead, etc — otherwise, the performance is one-note. Each line the other actor(s) utters is to be perceived through that same perspective: Are you getting what you want and what is at stake if you don’t. Acting is about winning (that’s why great actors are often Type A personalities).
Acting Advise: The more you stand to lose, the harder you will fight to win and it is that struggle that makes your performance compelling.
Figure out what you want, know the stakes, and win. Unless the writer has the audacity to have your character loose. In that case, shoot the writer.
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