These next 2 weeks we will be looking at animal studies. “This exercise was first introduced by Lee Strasberg as part of the actor’s training. It is taught today to acting students as an essential tool toward a deeper physical characterization of a role. The exercise consists in the exact reproduction of an animal’s behaviour: the actor imitates the sounds of the animal, moves exactly like the animal, and reproduces its general attitude. What Lee Strasberg suggested, though, is not to begin right away with a pure imitation. The actor should, instead, start by carefully observing its behaviour to the tiniest details, asking questions like, “In what does this animal differ from me?” or “What makes it pull its ears back in certain contexts?”. It gets you out of your head and into your body. Actors such as
Marlon Brando use this technique, in A Streetcar Named Desire by moving like an ape; Jim Carrey walked pulling and pushing his neck like a pigeon to portray his egocentric and eccentric personality in Ace Ventura. Consider characters like Batman, Tarzan, Mowgli, Catwoman etc.