Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

Should an Actor Judge Their Character?

Should an actor judge their character?

This question could be taken in multiple ways:

– Should an actor judge the character they’re playing?

Should an actor judge their own character as a real life person?

– Does a character judge the actor? (Readers, I love this one! Flipside!)

FeaturePicPlaying a Character

In general, you should not judge your character, as it can interfere with your ability to effectively portray that character. However, there are cases in which it may be helpful for you to have a basic understanding of your character’s motivations and backstory in order to better understand the character’s perspective and how they might react in various situations.

You have to be able to put yourself in your character’s shoes and understand them, no matter how terrible they may be. You have to be able to see the good in them and the potential for change. If you can’t do that, then you won’t be able to play the character convincingly. By judging your character, you may close yourself off from getting to know the character better and understanding their motives.

This may all sound like philosophical gibberish – and I’ll go more into this below — but if you think deep about it, many actors choose to play characters that are different from themselves in order to stretch their skills. In fact, some actors even take on roles that they know will challenge them and push them out of their comfort zone. This can be a great way to grow as an artist, and it can also help the actor to develop new insights into their own character. So embracing your character, not judging your character, is something to seriously consider.

Real Life

Okay. Back to sounding like philosophical gibberish. It’s not. It’s just not. I want to delve into real life for a moment. What about actors who judge themselves and their own character as a real person? How does that affect their performance?

When a person judges their own character, they are looking at their own personal qualities and traits in order to form an opinion on how well they think they measure up. This can be done for both positive and negative qualities, and usually involves looking at oneself objectively and critically. Judging one’s own character can be a useful tool for self-improvement, as it allows people to see where they need to work on themselves the most.

Many actors get insecure about their acting ability and start to doubt themselves. However, this is something you should never do. You should always trust your own acting ability and not judge it by others’ opinions. No one is perfect, which is why you should always continue to improve and learn from your mistakes. There are no mistakes in acting, only learning experiences.

Tom Hanks in Elvis
Tom Hanks in Elvis

Here’s a short quote from Tom Hanks: “The thing about being an actor is that you’re never really finished learning. You’re always trying to grow and improve.”

Now, when it comes to playing a character, many actors like to think that they are their own toughest critic. However, there are some actors who like to judge themselves harshly and feel that they need to be perfect in order to portray their character well. For instance, take Meryl Streep who once said, “I am my own worst enemy when it comes to judging myself. I always expect more of myself than anyone could ever expect.” This drive for perfection often comes from a fear of not being good enough which can lead to a lot of self-doubt and insecurity. Check out this clip of Meryl Streep’s character judging Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.


Now, let’s flip this whole thing around.

One of the interesting things about being an actor is that you are constantly judged by your character. This is especially true in cases where the actor is portraying a real person, such as in a biopic. While it’s certainly not easy to be constantly under the microscope, it can also be a great opportunity to learn more about oneself.

Kristen Stewart in Spencer
Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Let’s take Kristen Stewart who portrayed Princess Diana in the film Spencer.

Kristen Stewart’s comments on playing Princess Diana are complex and academic. She speaks to the idea of performing as a public figure and the implications of such a performance. Stewart emphasizes the importance of understanding the person that she is playing, in order to do them justice. She also acknowledges the unavoidable nature of creating a fictionalized version of someone who is no longer living.

Stewart says about Princess Diana, “She’s a huge contradiction, the weirdest combination of things that don’t necessarily go together all the time. It would’ve been easy to make her kind of perfect and it’s so fun to martyr her because she’s beautiful and just wanted people to be happy. She’s like Mister Rogers. There are certain people where you’re like, ‘Are you that sincere? You’re making me uncomfortable!’ I was opened up by her in a way that was so striking.” —Telluride Film Festival, September 2021.

The above is a perfect example of a character judging you, the actor. How does the character feel about you portraying them? Mind boggling for sure!

It boils down to…

Of course, judging characters is not limited only to actors. Many people struggle with judging their character as a real person and tend to be overly critical of themselves. This can be due to a variety of factors such as past experiences or how others have treated them in the past.

Ultimately, judging one’s character, whether portraying a character or judging yourself in real life is up to each individual.

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