By: Violet Webster

Getting into character is one of the most important and interesting jobs an actor has when working on a new project. Character development is one of my favorite parts of being in any show. In the fall musical this year, I’ve had my work cut out for me turning my rom-com-loving, cat-video-watching self into the dark, cross-bow-shooting, torture-loving Wednesday Addams.

In the Addams Family, the story revolves around Wednesday, her parents Gomez and Morticia, her brother Pugsley, her Grandma and her Uncle Fester. Based on the previous movies, TV shows and comics, the Addams live in a dark and creepy mansion in the middle of Central Park where their day to day lives are anything but normal. However, when Wednesday becomes engaged to the very normal Lucas Beineke, she employs the help of her father to keep her engagement a secret and to pull off one normal dinner party with Lucas and his parents.

The steps I take to get into character are different for every character I play, but I always start with reading through my script to get a feel for the way the character talks and behaves, and her relationships with the people around her. For Wednesday, it’s been really helpful to find where she is the same as me and where she is different. Obviously, I don’t have a fun time sealing my brother into a wall like she does, but I can relate (like most can) to my family embarrassing me in front of my friends.

Then, I log on to Pinterest. I find making a Pinterest mood board for a character gives you a visual window into their mind. Wednesday’s was easy, find everything dark and creepy and pin it.

As someone who loves to write (I am writing this article aren’t I?), next I do some free writing about my character. I do this particularly for things that are hard for me to relate to or things I can’t necessarily act from a genuine place. I have never been proposed to, for example, so free writing about how that might feel can help me understand where Wednesday is coming from.

One of my favorite things to do to get into character is to make a playlist of songs I think my character would listen to and listen to it while I warm up or drive to rehearsal. Wednesday’s playlist consisted of a lot of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco, which was essentially my music taste in middle school.

Finally, I meet with our director (the amazing Mr. Hendrock) to see what he likes or wants to change about how I see my character. It can be really helpful to get some outside advice on something I’ve been working on for so long, especially because the director can clearly differentiate what is working and what isn’t. I always use my director as resource to ask any questions I have or to bounce ideas off of.

Like I said before, every character and every actor is different, so what works for me isn’t always what will work for everyone else. 

If you’ve ever had to really get into character, what methods work for you? Have you ever struggled with getting into character for a show? Leave your answer in the comments!