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Working with Actors: Personality Traits

The first time a director works with an actor is usually during the casting session. One of the first things I do before a casting session is to make a note of each character’s personality traits – the inner patterns and workings of their psyche.

Because all individuals have personality traits, knowing what type of person you are dealing with is an important first step to understanding the inner world of a character – and the actor!

(NOTE: I have gathered the following information from several different sources during the past ten years – and unfortunately, I no longer remember who wrote the original material.)

There are four main functions of the psyche and each approaches reality from a different point of view and with a different question – each holds onto a different part of reality.

The four functions of the psyche are:
1) Intuition
2) Thinking
3) Feeling
4) Sensation

Each of these four functions can operate in two areas:
1) Extrovert – energy flowing towards the outer world
2) Introvert – energy flowing towards the inner world

And each function has a further possibility of operating in either:
1) a positive, Conscious way (Stable)
2) a negative, Unconscious way (Unstable)

All psychological evidence so far suggests that these two major factors, Extrovert/Introvert and
Conscious/Unconscious, are interwoven in each individual according to a pattern – a pattern that can be graphed out.

Okay! Now what does all this mean in English!!!

It means you can create a chart that will clearly display the four functions, and their personality traits, which you will then be able to reference anytime.

To get a copy of this quick reference personality chart, go to http://www.actioncutprint.com/chart.html and print out the page.

Once you have printed out the chart, you can then add the following descriptions of the type of people that form each of the four functions:

1) The Intuitive Type – creative people whose chief concern is with future possibilities; people who have a nose for the invisible; people who can encompass a lot quickly.

2) The Thinking Type – a person whose ultimate value is order and organization; everybody must say what they mean.

3) The Feeling Type – they have a proper evaluation of the Cosmos and an appropriate relationship with it; they handle their feelings expertly; they express their feelings by style; they know the value of beauty and relationships; they need attention – love or anger.

4) The Sensation Type – they are a master of observing detail; they absorb impressions deeply; they are sensitive to tastes, pain, noise, and physical sensations.

This chart will give you a clear understanding of who your character is and what their motivations are – as well as help you with the actor’s interpretation of the character!

A good performance happens when both the inner and outer self are portrayed. So when dealing with any character, remember these three important words: Motive Determines Behavior!

Motive (inner-what a character thinks)
Behavior (outer-what the character does)

Copyright (c) 2000-2010  Peter D. Marshall / All Rights Reserved

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Gaurav Mittal July 5, 2010, 4:45 am

    I like the way you think before casting, you take all personality factors according to the character. I am 24 and i am going to start my career in filmmaking. i am going to join one film school for 6months course. Am i doing right thing or could you please suggest something?

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