I just recently watched the movie, Julie and Julia, and it never ceases to amazes me how Meryl Streep morphs into any character she portrays.
Because she’s an icon, you can’t help but see that it is Meryl Streep, but she also has the ability to make you forget that it’s her. She disappears.
As it was in her brilliant characterization of Julia Child.
After 10 minutes of viewing this film, I honestly thought I was watching Julia Child.
I haven’t seen The Iron Lady yet, but from the looks of it, Meryl has once again embodied the essence of the legendary, Margaret Thatcher.
In past posts, I’ve shared several experiences of what it’s like to be an actor, and the process you go through in getting to heart of the character you’re portraying.
I know this sounds strange, but my approach to acting has always been in allowing the character to become me, rather than “I” become the character.
I approach a character from the outside in; starting with their physicality.
It could be something as simple as the way a character walks with a cane, talks with an accent, wears eyeglasses, or a particular style of clothing. This is especially helpful if the character is from another time period, because clothing from another period will not only make an actor move their body in different way, but also feel a different way.
Once I get a grasp on even ONE physical characteristic, it opens me to the internal life of the person I’m portraying.
It’s an odd approach, but it seems to work for me.
I’m also one of those actors who does not like to think too much about my acting. I would rather abandon myself to a role, and then see where it takes me.
Acting is very much like living life. If you just get out of the way, life takes you where you need to go.
Many of my longtime readers know of my portrayal as the Wicked Stepmother in the musical version of “Cinderella.”
I had always wanted to portray a woman onstage and finally got my wish when I was hired by a professional children’s theater, whilst still living in Florida.
This was one of those roles in which I really needed to get a sense of the physicality, because a woman walks, talks, and sits differently than a man.
My costume for this role was extremely important, so I asked the director if he could get me a pair of women’s shoes and a rehearsal skirt as soon as possible because I needed to learn how to move in them.
Rehearsing for a show is a progression. You start symbolically naked, and then gradually layer the costume, makeup and hair, until you get to the final dress rehearsal, when everything culminates.
This is a photo me backstage as the Wicked Stepmother in full costume. The gentleman you see standing to my left is, Rick, who designed my wig and costume. He built the costume from scratch and his attention to detail was brilliant. I wore a female body mold under the dress, which included a waistline, hips, buttocks, and BOOBS. Also, (which you can’t see) I wore Little Bo Peep ruffled pantaloons, so that when I lifted my dress while walking onstage, they peeked out from underneath.
I created the makeup myself, which took over an hour to apply before each performance.
Once I had everything on, I WAS the Wicked Stepmother. And it’s funny, even when I wasn’t onstage, I still walked around backstage as the character because the costume made my body and soul feel like a real woman.
Magically, the Wicked Stepmother had become me…..
Work it, girl!