Don’t be remembered as “The Actor With Eyebrows”
All people acquire bad habits at some point in their lives that need to be worked on. Actors are no different. As an acting coach and casting director, I can tell you that every actor has some bad habits they must kick–especially when starting out. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, not every actor ditches the bad habits before “making it big.” But then again, those actors don’t seem to stick around too long.
Instead of being lazy, every actor should strive to dominate the acting market, wherever they live.
Therefore this shouldn’t encourage laziness on your part; these actors can become as well known for their bad habits instead of the talent they possess. For some, we view their flaws as endearing; for most, bad acting habits prevent them from delivering any truly noteworthy performances.
7 Bad Habits of a Beginner Actor
- Excessive Sighing – “Don’t Have To Show The Emotion”
- Forehead Acting – “Looks Like You’re Trying Too Hard”
- Eyebrow Acting – “The Actor With Eyebrows – Yikes!”
- Blinking Too Much – “Just Makes Actors Look Nervous”
- Moving For No Reason – “Earn The Movement”
- Tensing Of The Hands – “Don’t Hide The Nerves, Use Them”
- Repetitive Speech – “Try Not To Give The Same Performance Twice”
1) Excessive Sighing
Good breath support is an actor’s best friend. Breath is the life force of a character. When you exhale a gust of air before you speak or move–generally out of nervousness–you let go of significant energy, and a good deal of the life of the line you are about to deliver or move you are about to make. Also, these sighs are generally audible–and, when repetitive, become distracting, even annoying. Don’t mistake sighing for emotion. On occasion, a good sigh is called for. Most of the time, it does nothing but deflate your performance.
2) Acting with Your Forehead
Particularly when it comes to on-camera acting, your emotions and purpose should emit from your eyes. Many make the mistake of believing (perhaps subconsciously) that these can instead be read in the wrinkles on their foreheads. Think microexpressions instead–they go a long way, and the camera will magnify them anyway. This is a tell tale sign that you didn’t memorize the right way.
3) Don’t Be Known as the ” Eyebrow Actor”
Emoting with the eyebrows is sometimes the reason the forehead does so much talking. Raised eyebrows convey surprise; furrowed brows, confusion or anger. Sometimes.Eyebrow acting is not recommended.There are many methods by which to convey these and other emotions, thoughts, and reactions. The eyebrows aren’t always the wrong choice–especially if they’re your character’s natural choice in the moment–but they aren’t always the right choice, either.
4) Blink, Blink, Blink
Are we back to the eyebrows? Oh, nope those are the eyelashes! Blink normally! Obviously, you’ll discover this applies more to on-camera than to stage acting, but excessive blinking is worse than distracting–it hides the two greatest windows into your character’s soul. Again, it’s often a nervous habit, but it’s a bad one. If this is something you have been doing, then turn to class because it’s time to work harder and gain more skill in actor eye control.
5) Stop Moving!
Whether on stage or in front of the camera, do not move unless you have reason to move! Movement for movement’s sake is distracting, and can even confuse the audience and your scene partners. Every move you make informs your character. If your character doesn’t fidget, don’t fidget! If you character doesn’t pace, don’t pace! Stillness is powerful. Your movements should have purpose; superfluous movement can shift focus away from what’s important, make your character seem weak or nervous when he or she is not, or make you the actor appear unsure or inexperienced.
6) Tense Hands
It is important to do a few tension-relieving exercises when preparing to perform. Some of the places we are wont to hold tension are in our jaws, shoulders, hips, and hands. All tension hinders your performance (unless your character is supposed to be tense at a given moment). However, the hands are the most immediately obvious indicator to the audience. When you aren’t sure of what your character should be doing, you may struggle to figure out what to do with your hands. When you are standing still and delivering a monologue for a commercial, you may find that you wring or clasp your hands, twitch your fingers, crack your knuckles, play with a loose thread on your shirt hem, or clench your fists. Don’t.
7) Stuck on an Intonation
There are multiple ways to deliver a line. Don’t get attached to any one way. If you do, you will find it very difficult to change it up if directed to do so. Also, delivering a line or monologue a little differently each time gives your scene partner(s) something fresh and unexpected off of which to react, and gives your directors or editors options for the final product. The easiest way to avoid this trap is to memorize your dialogue without any inflection. The best actors are directable and adaptable.
NO MORE BAD ACTOR HABITS
Whether you’ve got tense hands or your “the actor with eyebrows”, it’s time to get honest about where you are. If you find that you exhibit one or more of these bad habits, or have had other habits pointed out, the good news is that they can be broken. The frustrating news is that sometimes it takes time to ditch them completely. But you are an actor, and you signed up for hard work when you decided to pursue work in this field. Identifying these quirks means you’re ahead of the game. Take the time now to work on these, and you’ll be grateful you did.