Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the Can - Creating a Character

I don’t remember who came up with the idea, but it was a dream role. Do I speak of Lear? Of Hamlet? A lead in a Martin Scorsese film?No, my friends, I speak of the role of Jonathon – intern at In the Can Productions and the ultimate Star Wars geek.Every now and then, a role comes along which feels less like acting and more like playing. This was one of them.When “In the Can” was first discussed, I thought “this is never going to happen, it’s going to be too much fun.” Well, while time rolled on, Julie and I continued to discuss Jonathon and who he would be. Was he a general all around sci-fi fantasy geek, or did he have specific tastes? Originally, we considered Jonathon to be rabid about not only Star Wars, but Star Trek, The Lord of The Rings, X-Files and all things traditionally “geek” (Being a geek myself, I was a storehouse of knowledge and, yes, props). Eventually, we decided that it would be easier to follow the action if Jonathon was just rabid over one thing and one thing only – Star Wars. It seemed to lend itself to the comedy of “In the Can” as it was developing more than any other theme did. So Star Wars it was.The next question was when, where, and how would he be a Star Wars fan? At first, Jonathon was all over the place. He was pulling Star Wars references and quotes every other line. It became too confusing and gratuitous. We then trimmed him down so that he would be one character during each episode and only refer to Star Wars from the point of view of that character. So if he was a Jedi, he would probably not quote Han or speak like a Wookie. If he was Han, he would not have Jedi zen. Of course, he is an intern at an up and coming Film Company, so he couldn’t only be the character all the time. Even his connection to Spielberg wouldn’t keep him there, so he had to be a real person behind all the costumes. We went for Jonathon as someone with a bit of an arrested development. The only thing certain about Jonathon is that he is special, but in which direction? He could have a single digit IQ or be the world’s hidden genius. We might never know.In any case, to play in costumes that I dreamt of as a child felt more like play than work. I realized that all my childhood heroes from TV and Film were actors who had to commit to roles that probably felt very silly and childish to them. I doubt Harrison Ford thought his costume was cool. He probably thought of himself as a serious actor in a ridiculous outfit – but he committed and made it work. Walking around in his same getup and acting quite foolish pushed me to the same type of commitment.I hope I made it work.

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