I had an amazing time sitting down with a bunch of the cast members of our new, original production of “Grandparents’ War” and conducting a series of character interviews.
The ground rules were simple: stay 100% in character until I say ‘stop’.
They were amazing, and I didn’t ask easy questions. The time frame was after the play was over so I asked a bunch of questions about what happened during the play, but the bulk of the questions were about the characters’ histories, personalities, and memories.
I asked: ‘Are you an optimist or pessimist?’ ‘What was your happiest moment of your childhood.’ ‘What was it about your spouse that attracted you to her?’ … and so forth.
When I said ‘stop’, they devolved out of character, usually with a loud series of sighs. Then I conducted some debriefing questions of what they learned.
Character interviews are great for several reasons. First, it gets them away from their canned dialogue, and it forces them to create a credible backstory to help build structure into their character. It forces them to be their character in a new setting, thus furthering who they really are. The spontaneous interaction forced them to think on their feet and to react to the other character in the interview as well.
Character interviews is a beneficial exercise for any actor wanting to find out more about their character.