Finding out and knowing your type as an actor

Finding out and knowing your type as an actor_550
Photo Credit: Bob Mical via cc
Josh McHugh is an actor living and working in Los Angeles.

He writes a blog about “The trials, musings and shenanigans of a working actor…” – Josh McHugh, He Acts

His writing is thoughtful, insightful and we are delighted to be sharing it here on Actor Hub.

What’s Yer Type?

I sat in a coffee shop the other day…
(A lot of my posts will more than likely start with this, as do most of the more thoughtful moments of my life.)
I was sitting there and pondering the most difficult question I have asked myself as an actor:
What is my type?
I have asked myself this question approximately every three days since I started this adventure. The problem I kept running into was I am far too close to the product to be able to answer it objectively. It is the same thing as looking in the mirror and only seeing the flaws: Scars, acne, wrinkles, one eye is ever so slightly higher than the other. You fail to see the whole of you after a while.

Find someone who will be honest with you

As long as I keep getting cast, I don’t care if it’s typecast.
Chris Pratt
There is no way around it, you need an outside opinion.
Objective, unbiased and brutally honest.
As it turns out, my wife somehow fits all three.
Ours is a special kind of relationship! She sees quite easily through my self-wrought bullshit. Her’s is a laser focus of frankness for which I am by far the richer.
That being said, I still had to do the initial leg work.
What words would best describe me as a performer?
What qualities do I bring to a role?
Actors who can’t answer this question find themselves swimming against a tide of generality in their work. They fire off their resume and reel like buckshot into the ether that is Hollywood and hope someone can see the spark that is their greatness.
“This kid can do it all!”

Your type as an actor is different when acting on stage or film

People want to typecast you; it’s human nature.
Stacey Keach
Actors that developed in the theater possibly face this sort of problem more than others. In the theatrical tradition, you can be a twenty-two year old ingenue who has played everything from the chamber maid to a Shakespearean king.
Not so in film. Here, you are what you seem. First impressions are king and that which you sell most readily with a head shot is what gets you in the audition room. So, you best know what you seem.
This brings me back to my own conundrum. As I said, I’m too close to the product, and sometimes, frankly, we don’t see eye to eye.

Look at your acting work and find the pattern

It’s up to the actor to make sure they don’t get typecast.
Bryan Cranston
So I had only one other place to turn to: The work I have already done. These are the things I was drawn to as an actor. Things I have auditioned for, things friends and neighbors have cast me in. In some cases, they were roles written just for me, based on something that they may not have even realized they were seeing in me.
Thankfully, the pattern was fairly easy to pick up.
I’ve played the serial killer with a soft side.The young father with a secret that protects those he loves. My looks, to be honest, are average. I’m a man who is passionate about things. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I am very vulnerable in my approach. Things hit me hard. I gravitate towards the darker side of human nature in my work, but I can see the humor in almost any situation.
Boiled down? I land on this:
Everyman with something to hide.
My wife agrees, so I’m sticking with it.
Ah well. So much for The leading man with the nice car…
Find out your ‘type’ using our Actor Hub ‘Types’ list
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