The film camera responds to “character” first and great acting second. Most actors don’t know this. They concentrate on great acting, but without the camera being able to identify a clear, specific, and vivid character even the most Oscar-worthy acting will fall flat on screen. This is what audiences mean when they say they can “identify” with a character. It means they recognize the character as the kind of human being that would exist in their world. Recognizable characters are what audiences hold onto, so that an actor’s great acting can move, inspire, enrage, and amuse them. If they have no recognizable character to hang onto all of the actor’s great acting will be completely lost on them, on the camera, on critics, and on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
There are many archetypal characters we see on film: the hero or heroine, villain, femme fatale, best friend, girl next door, nerd, etc, etc. These archetypal characters give us film mythologies which accompany us throughout our lives. There are, however, characters that are less mythical but more memorable. They are rare gems challenging to create, and are powerful in the hands of the right actor.
The first character is the character that fights to maintain a “nobility” as a means of surviving in an ignoble world, an ignoble world of which the character is very much a part. The ignoble world clings to the character, gets on his or her clothes, tries to drag him or her down into the mud where everyone else in that world lives. This character’s nobility is what allows him or her to survive being a part of the ignoble world…
Check out the other two types on Backstage.com.