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Analyzing the Archetype’s Sides

October 10, 2013

I’ve just been looking at many dozens of fresh sides, preparing for my bi-annual Film Acting Workshop in Baton Rouge, in a bit over a week from now. This time I concentrated specifically on feature films, as that’s been where my head has been of late. I have a young, star client who is working on a very big film in South Africa, and we work via Skype on his upcoming roles – even while he is shooting the film we worked so hard to get. Certainly, it is elevating and educational to work with a star actor who truly is ‘up’ for every role he goes out on.

Well, first, he has had early-entry into the business, which while not always necessary, can be very helpful – if you don’t burn out. Then he hit on a good role, for his type, on a widely-watched television cable series. And he’s smart, dedicated, driven – and likes to act. You know how he found me? The Internet. God bless the Internet, because working with this actor has been another really satisfying professional relationship – as most of my client/colleague relationships have been over these many years.

I also love to work with late teens – and early-to-mid twenties actors, because they are so amazed and appreciative when they find out ‘the good stuff’ after having heard all the other stuff for so long.

And  I wanted to next discuss (following up on our last post about how we should be looking at the material – philosophically) how to look at the kind of role you will probably play before you ever get to star in a film or television episodic.

And that kind of role is often the Archetype. Now we’ve talked about archetypes before, but let’s look at one example that caught my attention just today, and you can then extrapolate how this extends to your next audition. And this is not just for actors! This is also for Directors, Producers and Casting execs, as well!

The Role: Security Guard

One Line: “Game’s over fellas, keep moving!”

Circumstances: Our lead has been chased by gang dudes who think he stole their drugs. I don’t know if he did or not – but they think he did. So the whole film is about him running from a pack of nasty, drug-dealing gang members. He’d rather be chased by those huge, hand-sized Chinese hornets than these bad boys.

So now the chase has taken him to a sports arena, where a game has just ended. He struggles against an exiting CROWD, and into the turnstiles. An Attendant let’s our breathless lead re-enter the stadium, because “I forgot my jacket”.

The Security Guard  sees the whole gang coming toward he and his two fellow Security Guards, against the crowd. They all, simultaneously, try to slip through the turnstiles, but they are TURNED AWAY  by the guards. and then exit into another shot. One of the gang members watches our lead go down the concourse, determined to continue the chase.

IN THE SCRIPT, the Security Guard says his – or perhaps ‘her’ line, and the whole gang is turned away.

IN THE SCRIPT, the next shot has our lead slipping into a janitor’s closet. We know that one of the gang members still has a bead on him, but cannot enter past the guards.

IN THE SCRIPT, the Security Guards are not blindfolded, and therefore obviously can SEE that whatever was going on – there are GANG MEMBERS involved.

You have the line “Game’s over fellas, keep movin’.”

Your questions as actor are:

* What would have to be the psychological  and physical posture of the Security detail, in order to persuade a likely knife-and-gun-carrying gang not to over-whelm them at the turnstiles?

What would Security Guard need to communicate to the gang for them to desist.

What would Security Guard need to ‘show’ for the gang to desist.

What would be the proper volume of the Security Guard’s line – based upon the circumstances?

Would the volume require  the Security Guards’s intentional modulation? And why?

Ask these questions, and then visualize how this usually goes WRONG…  for example, production frequently casts a big, tough guy for the one line role – often a stunt man or woman. And that’s fine. But we all know what REAL security guards look like, right? Why would the management have  placed the ‘perfect guard’ to  be there at ‘just the right time’ to refuse these gangbangers? Doesn’t that just ruin the plausibility for the audiences subconscious mind? “Oh, right, perfect tough-guy security guard just happened to be at this turnstile when all this happens.”

Note to Actors, Directors and Writers:  an audience’s conscious mind isn’t always savvy, but their subconscious mind IS – ALWAYS savvy.

Now we have a further problem: The script doesn’t say if the security guards are armed or not? Whoa!

So now we have TWO compelling scenarios to consider for our audition. Our Security Guard being armed, and our Security Guard being unarmed. Huh. Who knew this stuff could be so complicated?!

What would the psychological and physical posture have to be to deter the gang from overrunning the turnstiles if our security guard detail is NOT armed?! Yikes. One thing is for sure – we’ll need to be ready for either possibility when we go in to audition, or when we record it for production to look at.

Care to comment? We’ll discuss the possibilities in our next post!


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  1. Andrew Vogel permalink

    I think realistically the security wouldn’t communicate that “If you don’t listen to me, the three of us will destroy you” because he wouldn’t want to threaten a gang and put his life or other people’s lives in danger. But rather, he would communicate something like “There’s no reason for you to be here right now other than to cause trouble, and you don’t want to start trouble at a public event like this. So just turn around and handle your business elsewhere so we can all move on.”

    And at the same time. The posture of the security could communicate “I am prepared to use my weapons as a last resort” (That is, if the security guard is armed which normally would be the case I think)

    Another option, that might work even if the security guard isn’t armed, is to be calling for backup on a walkie as the gang approaches. Assuming the gang would see this, the security guard could have confidence in communicating “Look, you shouldn’t be here. You know you shouldn’t be here. So leave now before 30 guards show up and make your day a lot worse.”

    I’d say the trap some actors might fall into would be to try and start a conflict with the line as opposed to trying to end a conflict and get the gang out the stadium.

    Just some thoughts….

    • Really good analysis, Andrew! A+ S h a w n Please follow the BLOG on Audition and Dramatic Theory

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