Stanislavsky And His Acting Methodology – A Personal Modern Approach – The Importance Of The “Character Actor”

| May 1, 2018 | 1 Comment

Marlon Brando Method Acting

Stanislavsky Tony Rollo Method ActingKonstantin Stanislavsky was a Russian theater professional who defined the method of acting first in the late 19th century. He was also a master of being a “character actor”

Let’s define the “character actor” right off.

There are many “leading actors” who come and go quickly in the theater and film. Those are who we know as the stars. Stars come and go as trends dictate, as what is popular at the time. The flavor of the month. Pop radio one hit wonders. It is the same on the screen or in the theater.

However – the “character actor” is one who is a craftsman. They can achieve a real life-long career in acting. They are the utility actor. They can achieve popularity but maybe not the “star power” needed to get a production made. They do sometimes achieve the lead role – but more often play a supporting role and are frequently the entire backbone that makes a production work well.

A good example would be Burgess Meredith. The Penguin in the original Batman TV series. Boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill in the original Rocky film series who trained, was counsel to and cheered on the Rocky character by the lead actor Sylvester Stallone. He had countless television and movie roles. A long life of longevity in the industry. My personal favorite actor of all times!

Burgess Meredith The Twilight Zone - Tony Rollo dot comBurgess Meredith – the epitome of the character actor – did get his time in a lead role. The best example is the classic Twilight Zone episode where he just wanted to read in “Time Enough At Last”..

Another great example would be from the movie “Silence Of The Lambs”. Jodie Foster was the lead actor – or was she? Anthony Hopkins played the devastatingly amazing character actor role of the fiendish Hannibal Lector. Who was the lead in that movie – really? Who drove the story? The young FBI agent determined to prove herself – or the devilish manipulator bent on gaining his freedom?

First off – is it Stanislavski or Stanislavsky?

It depends on the translator of Russian into English. I personally prefer and believe it should be “Stanislavski” but – let’s go with what is popular in the westStanislavsky. No need to split hairs.

Stanislavsky’s early works on method acting which modern actors around the world all study in almost religious terms, Stanislavski himself later in his life rejected and adapted his own method of acting

Stanislavsky saw the youthful flaws in his original concepts and streamlined his methodology in the 1930s in the new 20th century.

Yet – many still study his original concepts from the 19th century – which are flawed by the later teachings of Stanislavski himself – but maybe give teachers of theater a better income teaching those imaginary exercises … flawed concepts … imagining objects almost in a mime sense.

Nevertheless – it is only recently with my Benjamin Franklin living history production that I have seriously sought Stanislavski’s ideas.

To my surprise – my own concepts of what I call “internal dialog” by drawing out content in a script between the lines – was confirmed to be correct. Also – a few things I found to be new. A few nuts and bolts.

This personal idea of internalism goes beyond the necessity of finding the character in a script. There must be an internal dialog. More than discovering a backstory.

Internal dialog is something that happens while reacting. Internalism. Some call it reacting. It draws upon the character backstory, the written script, the director’s vision and one’s own living the character. This is something inspired by Stanislavski and is a personal journey made by the professional actor.

All that said –

Here is the Stanislavski method put into a great animated video by a Russian team recently: Enjoy!

jerry seinfeld on stageTalent cannot be taught. Talent is natural and something born into us.

Yet – Stanislavski sought to find a method where all could learn the craft of acting.

In scientific studies, it was found that the most terrifying thing in life was not facing death – but speaking in public before a crowd. Imagine that? Speaking before a crowd is something that is truly terrifying. Acting in a production is even more wrenching.

The comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said most accurately – “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

Even the most celebrated professionals on stage and screen experience a lot of “butterflies in the stomach” before the curtain goes up!

carol burnett tarzan yellCelebrated actor and comedian Carrol Burnett said that if an actor DID NOT get nervous before a show – it was a sign that something was wrong!

Dig in.


Find the backstory of your character.

And also seek the lines between the lines of the script you have to work out.

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Category: Featured, Tony Rollo Blog

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  1. Writs says:

    Tony, thank you for your blog post.Really thank you! Awesome.

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