Sometimes simple tricks can be very effective tools when it comes to character development. These can range from drawing from memories and experiences to fleshing out the character on your own.

In the video below, Casting Director Erica Arvold and Acting Coach Richard Warner share exercises to help actors connect physically, sensorially, and emotionally with their characters. Some of these include giving thought to specific questions that can inform and inspire interesting three-dimensional performances.

Here are seven quick tips that can help you develop your characters.

1. Think about what your character owns.

What’s in the top drawer of your character’s dresser? What about what’s in their pocket or handbag? Consider the memories attached to personal objects and what each item means to your character. Perhaps someone special once secretly gave them a ring, or a loved one sent them a handwritten note. Maybe they’re hiding a wad of cash they stole, or they shoved a dirty pair of socks in the drawer when company unexpectedly arrived. You decide what your character has in their possession and what it means to them, and then think about these objects before starting your scene.

Similarly, what products might be in your character’s medicine cabinet? These can reveal ailments they tend to get (painkillers and antibiotics for headaches and illnesses), or how they are concerned with their appearance (self-care products like high-end cosmetics or messy toothpaste tubes).

2. Think about your character’s diet.

There’s plenty to learn about a character through his or her relationship with food. Eating is a reminder that we’re all human, as we all must eat. Does your character prefer to eat alone or with others? Do they give thanks for a morsel before eating it, scarf down a burger quickly, or use a napkin after every bite of an entree? What is their favorite food? What did they eat last and how did it make them feel? Use this when you’re in the moment and given your choices, you might conjure a different performance than you imagined.

3. Get into costume.

Putting on a costume can have a tremendous effect on a performer. When you look the part, you often feel the part. As Gary Oldman once said, “Costume is so important for an actor. It absolutely helps to get into character; it’s the closest thing to you, it touches you. Some actors like to go into make-up and then put their clothes on, but I like to dress first; that’s my routine.”

4. Does your character have unique mannerisms?

Consider any physical gestures your character might use such as eyebrow-raising or head tilting; notable speech patterns like mumbling or ending sentences with question marks; hand habits such as nail biting or jingling coins in pockets; or if their posture is upright or slouched. Also, how does your character laugh? People-watching is a great way to discover which movements and habits best fit your character.

5. Write out the character’s backstory.

Michael B. Jordan is an example of an actor who writes a journal for each of the characters he portrays. Writing from their perspective, Jordan imagines his character’s earliest memory, documents significant life events, reveals the ways he feels misunderstood and jots down his present-day struggles. The amount of pages you choose to write out is completely up to you, so let your creative juices flow.

6. What music does your character listen to?

It’s easier to relate to a character if you know their favorite song. Find a piece of music or a playlist that fits your character—or a poem that you can post on your bathroom mirror or phone. Study the words, lyrics and music and think about why your character adores this so much. What experiences could your character have had that the songs might conjure up?

7. What cologne or perfume might your character wear?

What aroma best fits your character? Award-winning Indian actress Vidya Balan says she wears a different perfume for each of her characters. “It’s very sensory,” she explains. “Sometimes when there’s a break in shooting and I go back to the shoot, the moment I wear that perfume, I think something happens; it transports me to that world.”

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