“It’s when there’s a genuine connection between people that makes On-Screen Chemistry pop.”
You’ve seen it. You’ve loved it. But just how do they do it?!
As a viewer, I get jazzed when there’s something magical about two actors portraying characters that have that extra “something” — that little extra umph that no one can explain.
On-Screen Chemistry is more than just physical / sexual. There’s also Emotional, Romantic and Friend / Enemy, to name a few. I’ve put together some great examples at the end of this article. You can break it down even further, such as Emotional On-Screen Chemistry being caused by tension, love, sadness, hate…
What are 5 Tips to Ignite On-Screen Chemistry?
1. Do Your Research
With the amount of resources we have today, it should be quite easy to find out what makes your acting partner tick. What gets them excited? What are they passionate about? Once you know that info, research it so you become knowledgeable on the subjects. Do this before you meet them for the first time.
Example: You’ll be doing a lot of scenes with Mr. Whiskers. Google him, visit his socials (if he’s on social media) and read everything. Do it as if you’re writing a paper for school that counts as half your grade. See if there’s anything about Mr. Whiskers that you have in common. Learn about his life, his passions, so when you finally meet him, you have a bunch of questions to ask which will break the ice and let Mr. Whiskers know you care to get to know him.
2. Wear your scene partner’s favorite color.
People are drawn to different colors. I have no idea why, do you? Doesn’t matter. Point is, this is something that’s very subtle. The other person will be attracted to you, but they won’t know why. Obviously, you can only do this when you’re not in wardrobe, so during readings, general meetings and not-dress rehearsals is the perfect time to wear your partner’s favorite color.
Example: Keep it on the down-low. Wear the color in an accessory like a tie, scarf or bandana.
You’re familiar with the term “mood music”? Actors use music in various ways, such as listening to music that their character would listen to. Everyone has a genre of music or a select bunch of songs that just “do it” for them. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Get those earbuds out and load up your probably-already-loaded mp3 player and listen, just listen. Bop around, do whatever you have to do, and when it’s time for your scenes, you’ll have a contagious personality that will attract everyone.
Example: You’re on set or in the holding room waiting, waiting, waiting. Put your headset on, click the music button and literally just start dancing by yourself. Sure, people are going to watch, and they will smile, and your scene partner will be attracted to you. Maybe even join you!
4. Treat your scene partner as if you’ve known them forever.
0o0o0 this is a good one. Some people are more comfortable spilling their guts to complete strangers and other people would rather divulge their inner most thoughts to friends. This can get sticky, but opening yourself up to your acting partner is one way to create On-Screen Chemistry. If you feel like you’ve known each other for a long time, even though you’re saying your lines off a page, you may say them differently than if you’re talking to a stranger. People tend to have “loose lips” when talking to someone they’ve known for a gazillion years, and it makes the scene conversation flow better.
Example: The Director asks you to do the same scene two different ways, but gives you the liberty to choose the different ways. This is where you’ll deliver your lines as if you’ve known your scene partner forever OR deliver them as if talking to a stranger. Which take do you think the Director will pick? Exactly. The one that looks more natural.
5. Physical and emotional attraction.
It’s no secret that you can connect to more than one person in different ways than you connect with others. If you’re going to have love scenes, it’s always a plus if you’re physically attracted to your partner, but that isn’t always the case. And somehow, people who have an emotional attraction to someone can become physically attracted to them, and vice versa. Ask the scientists and doctors for the explanation on this one. But you know it’s true.
Let’s say your character is physically attracted to another character, but in real life, you’re not physically attracted to them at all. What a dilemma when you have to be under the sheets with this person for five hours of rehearsal and shooting time! How can you make it look real??
You just have to remember that you’re an actor because you love acting. You love being someone else and telling a story. You love being put in a position that makes you uneasy because you want to see how you’ll get over the hurdle.
This is your opportunity to do some of the best acting you may ever do! Talk about a challenge. You need to put thoughts in your head that you’re kissing someone else other than who you’re really kissing. You need to use your imagination to its fullest capability. Think about when you yourself are watching a movie and how you want to perceive it as a viewer, and put everything you’ve got into it so the viewers of YOUR movie feel the same way!
It’s amazing how a simple love scene during filming can be turned into the most sensual, emotional scene.
I just re-read the above and it seems impossible. Yet actors, no matter how uncomfortable it is, pull it off for the sake of the show. You can do it!
Study the below example videos and put your thinking cap on, because On-Screen Chemistry is a necessity in show business.
ON-SCREEN CHEMISTRY IN DIFFERENT SITUATIONS:
Co-workers – Will they or won’t they?
Dana Scully and Fox Mulder – The X-Files
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny
Clashing Family – Funny. What will happen next?
Fred and Aunt Esther – Sanford and Son
Red Foxx and LaWanda Page
Enemies turn into lovers – Dark and gritty.
Clarke Griffin and Commander Lexa – The 100
Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey
Good Guy / Bad Girl – Lust and fear.
Catherine Tramell & Nick Curran – Basic Instinct
Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas
Vivian and Edward – Pretty Woman
Julia Roberts and Richard Gere
Mentor and mentee.
Brian Flanagan and Doug Coughlin – Cocktail
Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown