Q&A: How to Use Character Types to Direct Actors?

Here is another question posted by “TemperateWhispers” in response to my recent video.

Question:

How might one use this knowledge to better inform and direct his or her actors in regards to character portrayal?

Answer:

I’m a director myself, so I’ve dealt with this many times.

The most important thing, always, is to cast the right actor for the right role.

Not only do actors bring their physical selves to a role, but also their own inner lives.

In real life, actors are one of the nine personality types, as are the characters they play.

Actors are best at playing the character type that matches their personality type.

We call this “typecasting.”

The truth is that few actors are any good at playing outside their own type.

As a result, successful actors tend build their careers playing a single Enneagram type, portraying variations on that theme.

For example, Tom Cruise almost always plays an Enneagram Type 3, which is his type in real life.

Kate Winslet tends to play an Enneagram Type 4.

Woody Allen plays an Enneagram Type 6.

If you cast Woody Allen is Ethan Hunt, you’ve either miscast your film or you’ve deliberately chosen to make it a comedy rather than a thriller.

Assuming the role is well-cast, then I would focus on communicating to the actor their specific intention in the scene.

Also discuss their core fear and the major stresses they are reacting to.

I use what I call “character reaction patterns,” one for each character type.

Characters tend to react to stress in ways that are typical for their character type, and you can talk this through with your actor.

But if you’ve cast well, the actor will intuit the right emotional response for the situation and the character.