Playing a Liar?

October 13, 2011

What draws us to movies like The Ides of March, A Few Good Men, and The Graduate? Drama speaks to us largely because it taps into an inherent truth of life: Sometimes we tell the truth, and sometimes we lie. Research suggests people are lied to between 10 to 200 times a day. And that stranger you just spoke to for 10 minutes? Chances are you both lied to each other 3 times.

As an actor, what tools do you have in your arsenal when playing the part of a lying character? Deceptive speech patterns, revealing body language, and deceitful attitudes intrigue us, and have inspired many books, as well as TV shows like Lie to Me. According to the author of Liespotting, Pamela Meyer claims we all resort to essentially the same behaviors–some counterintuitive–when we seek to deceive. Whether we speak a tad more formally, give too much detail, freeze our upper bodies, peer just a little too deeply into someone’s eyes, or smile in “duping delight,” we give ourselves away. To capture an authentic lie when you are performing, it may help to see a breakdown of what actually occurs to an individual when he or she lies. Likewise, you can explore the subtleties people use when they are speaking honestly, and with decency. To hear Meyer’s revealing talk (and to hear why people hesitate to befriend her) click here: