Cold Reading: What Every Actor Needs To Know


So, you want to be an actor?

There are four (4) cardinal rules guiding successful actors from Los Angeles, CA to New York City, NY:

1) Having talent doesn’t necessarily mean you will work.  Ever.
2) Hard work may pay off.  Or maybe not.
3) Sometimes there is loyalty in the business.  Most of the time there isn’t.
4) There is no such thing as fair.

Being an actor involves dealing with a lot of forces which are out of your control.  What can you do to ensure the most successful career possible?

BE PREPARED.

Preparation is when hard work meets opportunity.  Opportunity could arise at any moment and you must be ready when it knocks.

Cold reading is a common tool casting directors use to quickly determine whether an actor is right for a certain part.  Cold reading is speaking the words of a script with little to no preparation.

The goal of every actor is to be able to take someone else’s words and speak them out loud, with confidence and clarity, as if for the first time.  In life, we always know why we say what we say and do what we do.  We have an action, or intention, driving the words we say.  If you have been given a side and very little preparation time, how do you quickly create the behavior of a character?

You must be able to quickly insert yourself into the given circumstances of a scene.

Try the following quick trick at your next cold read:

When you get the side, read it all the way through for information.  Then, ask yourself: for this character, in this situation, what role am I playing?

There are eight (8) roles we play in everyday life:
1) mother
2) baby
3) predator
4) competitor
5) seducer
6) joker
7) teacher
8) everyone in the world is crazy but me

If you determine the role you playing in the scene and really play that role, it will have an effect on your behavior.

A casting director does not want to see someone simply reading lines.  Anyone can do that.  A casting director wants to see an actor take on the behavior of the character; they want to see the character in your movements, gestures, tone of voice, etc.

Lastly, remember that every audition is another opportunity to work and offer your gift as an artist.  Learn from every audition experience.  Immediately accept going in that you are not going to book the part.  Go in and do your best with the choices you have made.  When the audition is over, let it go.

We are actors because of our dedication to the work and fascination with the complexities of the human spirit.  We use wonder and insight to dig deeper into the world of a character, always striving to live “truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”  After all, it is the work that is the art of it all.

Heather Snow Clark is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio.  She holds her MFA in acting from the New School for Drama and her BFA in acting from East Carolina University.  Heather currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina working as a professional actress and teaching beginner and professional actors the tools and techniques of the trade.  

Please see her website, www.heathersnowclark.com, for complete details on acting and voice classes, as well as private coaching sessions.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Linnea-Berthelsen-Stranger-Things.jpg
Linnea Berthelse on Her ‘Stranger Things’ Audition and Keeping Her Role a Secret for a Year
“Sometimes when actors don’t get the part, it’s not always about an actor being a bad actor; it’s about connecting to the material.” – Linnea Berthelsen Stranger Things is back on our screens with its second season, something fans have been waiting for ever since season one arrived on Netflix in 2016. Returning to the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/jonathan-groff-hamilton.jpg
Jonathan Groff on Playing King George III in ‘Hamilton’: “I rehearsed for about a day, and then went into the show”
Can you even imagine stepping into a role in one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time with barely any time to prepare?
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lina-esco-swat.jpg
Lina Esco on Playing the Only Female Officer on ‘S.W.AT.’: “I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team”
"The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her" - Lina Esco
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sam-rockwell-three-billboards.jpg
Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions
"I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll" - Sam Rockwell
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend.jpg
Rachel Bloom: “The way that I learned comedy was not rigid, but this very specific technique taught by the Upright Citizens Brigade”
"I went from being a person who was doing moderately successful videos online and working as a moderately successful TV writer and aspiring to do this to having a Golden Globe." - Rachel Bloom