This article covers 7 tips on how to direct actors to play realistic characters in your films and videos.

how to direct actors to play realistic characters
How To Direct Actors To Play Realistic Characters

Tip #1 – Safety & Control

During filming some of the most important things to keep in mind is saftey and staying in control of the situation.


If you have a scene where a character in the scene is burned by hot coffee and you ACTUALLY use hot coffee you might really burn your actor which would not be very good.

It is much better to have something cool instead that's not going to actually burn anyone and you can tell your actor to act like it’s hot, after all, that is an actor’s job.

Tip #2 – Helping Actors Get To Know Their Character

When working with actors you will have them relate things in the film back to their real life experiences in order to help them understand the role better.

It also will help the actors understand their character better if you let them know absolutely everything about the scene and what their character is doing in it.

Tip #3 – What Do You Do When You're Doing Nothing?

While filming a scene there are three things an actor needs to know:

  1. Where they just came from
  2. Where they are
  3. Where the are about to go

It is important for an actor to know all of these things because then they will know more of what exactly to do in the scene while they are delivering lines because real people never just stand around completely still and talk to somebody or wait for something.


If you are waiting for something, like an uber, you aren’t just standing around, you’re pacing a bit, checking your phone, checking your watch, all the regular things you do without even thinking.

Tip #4 – Making Characters Feel Real

Another important thing to keep in mind when directing actors is that you have to make sure that they are acting like real people.


If an actor is acting intoxicated, a lot the time they will fully lean into it and act like a Jack Sparrow character, tripping over themselves all the time. In reality, when people are under the influence they are going to be attempting to act normal for the most part.

Tip #5 – Expectations

To help your characters feel more realistic make sure your actors know what their character’s expectations are going into a scene.


If a character comes into their home and sees they were robbed, that character should expect that the house is going to look clean, like it usually is, so they should be in disbelief when they enter and not immediate horror that they were robbed.

Tip #6 – Justification

You should also always give your actors justification for why they need to go where they need to go in the scene and reasons that they have to do things the way they need to do them besides “If you don’t it won’t look accurate.”, tell them why it wouldn’t be accurate.

Tip #7 – Anticipating Action

The last and most obvious thing is that your actors shouldn’t anticipate things that are going to happen even slightly before the character knows what’s happening.


If in the scene something falls off of the counter and just before it falls the actor looks towards it, that’s going to take everybody watching out of the experience completely.

After reading this article you now know more about how to direct actors to play realistic characters for your videos!

For more basics of video production check out our Basics of Video Production Guide for Business.