In the hilarious movie spoof "Tropic Thunder", one of the characters (a 5-time Oscar winning Australian who portrays an African-American) gives a strange, but spot on lecture about character research and development. He goes on and on using references to other movies and actors to bear himself out. Beyond this character-in-a-character performance, the point is well made that research is the backbone of any performance. You absolutely have to know something about your character, your co-characters and even the project as a whole. It just simply makes for a more well-rounded, 'informed' portrayal. Improv and imagination also come heavily into play when you are "creating" a character from it's inception.
In my case, I had to learn to think and then 'speak' like a half-man, half-iguana who was a mean, sneaky classic villian.
Now, I already know how mean and villainous some people could be, but I knew absolutely NOTHING about iguanas and so...a google or two later I find out that not only is my character sneaky and hot-tempered (his people skills) but he is also aggressive and territorial--an exfoliating ne'er-do-well who does double duty as a thief AND a king. HOOO-BOY!
I now have a great, well-rounded description of Loverboy but ...alas...no picture. No artist rendering, no stick figure sketch, nada. Remember earlier when I said imagination would come into play? After having seen more than my share of 'gill-men' and other cinematic horrors over the years, a visual image wasn't too hard to mentally construct. That wasn't my gig, anyway. What would he SOUND like? He had to be: articulate yet evil, emperious yet sneaky, regal and possesive yet mad and territorial all at once!
Even though I had one primary voice that came to mind I'd already learned from a Pat Fraley podcast that 2 different reads on the same character provide producer/directors with a choice...and a different view. I did just that! I wrote a 30 second monologue (he IS a villian!) incorporating all of his better qualities and social mores--in two distinctly different voices.
With prayer and baited breath I sent the audition to the casting director. She e-mailed me back with some "More of this and less of that" suggestions which were immediately incorporated into the second take amd resubmitted.
In late November 2008, I received this e-mail..."Dear Herb, Congratulations! You have been cast as the Iguana Summer King..."
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