Making the Character Your Own

Making the Character Your Own

There’s an age-old saying that states an actor must make a character his or her own.  Many actors portray real-life individuals, and while they need to have the essence of that real-life human being, audiences do not necessarily enjoy mimicry or elements of being a copycat.  Audiences love true human emotion and watching people that feel realistic, not caricatures or a carbon copy of a real individual.

Even then, multiple actors play the same character in multiple years based on sequels, reboots, or other feature or television projects and styles.  Recently, Emily Blunt played “Mary Poppins” in Mary Poppins Returns, made famous in the original film by Julie Andrews—and the film itself based on a character by P.L. Travers.

While every individual has their own experiences when watching movies, many people can agree that performers selected to portray real-life individuals or fictional characters often feel as if they have come to life off the page because the actor just…feels right for the part.

As a perspective here, I saw Mary Poppins Returns and felt that Emily Blunt was a fantastic Mary Poppins.  In fact, she may have been just as good as Julie Andrews.  Interestingly enough, while Emily Blunt had the same wistfulness and snappy comebacks that Julie Andrews had as Mary Poppins, they both had completely different portrayals of the character, despite feeling eerily similar.

In my opinion, what made this performance “practically perfect” in every way is that Blunt portrayed her rendition of Mary Poppins, not Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, if that makes sense.  Emily Blunt took what she knew about the character and transformed into Mary Poppins, which was surprisingly similar to Julie Andrews but with more than a dash of originality.

Again, this is strictly my opinion, but the point that I’m driving home is that an actor has to make a character his own, not someone else’s.  Make choices that feel right for the character, adjust as needed—don’t try and copy someone else.  Do what feels right.  But most importantly, make a choice.

Brad’s thoughts on making a character your own here: