Ever wonder what it takes to play Edward or Bella onscreen? Besides good looks and talent, or lack thereof, is not sufficient enough. Actors will do a character breakdown. A character breakdown assists the actor in understanding their respective characters and their relationships to each other. They have to “become” the character. I have seen interviews where Robert Pattinson is asked about his character Edward and he says “I/Me” meaning in the character of Edward he would do certain things, not Robert himself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ypz-NClDy-w&NR=1 At 3:20 in this clip Rob refers to himself as Edward. He’s talking about Edward wanting to kill Bella when he is around her. Bella tells him she doesn’t care. Robert says “There is definitely something wrong with her and there is obviously something very wrong with me.”
Whether or not he knows it, Rob is using the Twelve Guideposts. Michael Shurtleff, a Broadway and Hollywood Casting Director, to assist actors with the audition process and what they should expect, created the Twelve Guideposts.
Since Twilight is the main focus right now, I will use the characters to demonstrate each post if it is possible.
The Twelve Guideposts are as follows:
1) Relationship: An actor would be looking at what type of relationship his/her character has with others. Some different types of relationships are: lovers, friends, parent/child, co-workers and siblings. For example: the relationship between Edward and Bella is Lovers/Friends. Edward/Carlisle: Parent/Child and Friends.
2) Conflict: What is the character fighting for? An actor would look for what type of struggle his/her character is going through. For example, what does Bella want from Edward? What does she want from Jacob? What does she expect of herself?
3) The moment before: This is used when an actor is looking at a script and is working on a specific scene. What happened in the scene prior to that one that made that scene begin the way it did. What was his/her character doing in the prior scene?
4) Humor: Humor is used to diffuse tension in a relationship. An example would be in Eclipse when Edward takes Bella to Jacob in the car. Edward looks at Jacob and says to Bella “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” Edward was hiding the fact that he was hurt that Bella wanted to be with Jacob so he made a joke.
5) Opposites: Opposites exist in every scene. It is the actor’s job to find the opposite. For example, the opposite of love is hate. The opposite of trust is to distrust. Edward loves Bella so much that he wants to be with her forever. However he hates the fact that she has to give up her life for him. So he is forever in a love/hate relationship with the situation that Bella is in.
6) Discoveries: Actors need to look for the “discovery” of themselves or their partner in each scene. What is new? Is there something about each other that they could find that would change the course of the relationship? Discoveries need to be made in order for the relationship not to become stagnant.
7) Communication and Competition: An actor must be able to successfully communicate his/her thought and feelings to their partner. The partner in turn should then reciprocate the thoughts or feelings. Communication is like a circle. What an actor sends out, the actor must receive back. Actors are successful at communicating when they are able to project what they are feeling to their partner. The feeling should be so strong that the audience will be able to feel it as well.
Competition: Every relationship is competitive. There are two points in which an actor should be able to get across to their partner. 1) I am right and you are wrong. 2) You should change from being the way you are to being the way I think you should be.
8)Importance: In a scene, an actor must find what is emotionally important to him/her at that time and fight for that particular feeling. It was emotionally important for Edward that he stays relevant in Bella’s life. That is why he gave her the heart pendant for her bracelet.
9) Find the Events: An actor must find the event in each scene. What changes him/her? What event moves the story forward? Edward has an emotional event. He loves Bella so completely that he would do anything to protect her. The event that moved Twilight forward though, IMO, is the fact that James wants to kill Bella and so all the characters are focused on this one event.
10) Place: When an actor reads a script for an audition or rehearsal, the actor is on a bare stage or an empty room. The actor needs to create the “place” in his/her mind of the particular scene that is being read/rehearsed.
11) Game Playing vs. Role Playing: Basically what this means is that each actor plays different “games” and within that game the actor takes on a different role. The simplest way I can explain this is…Edward and his “family” is portraying the “game” of a family to the public. Edward’s role is to play the brother/son. Another way of putting it is watching children play “house” and each child adopts the role of mother, father, child, and cousin. They are playing a game with extremely specific roles.
12) Mystery and Secret: This is the most difficult post to explain but I’ll give it my best shot. When an actor is done preparing for an audition, unless they are reading from a side, they should have their character hammered out. However they don’t know everything about that character. That remains the Mystery and Secret. The best way I can explain it is. Edward never knew what Bella was thinking so she remained a mystery to him. She also kept secret the fact that she has passports for Jacob and Renessmee in Breaking Dawn. Had Edward known that secret, I think their ending would have turned out differently.
I hope you enjoyed a “sneak peek” into the process of building a character.
Please join us for a discussion on this topic on: Monday, January 3rd, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST.