Actors pull from their life experiences to portray a believable character. When they haven’t personally gone through what they have to depict, they research, interview, and find people who have to understand how to make the portrayal convincing. However, when an actor has to die on screen, it can be tricky. We have all seen horror movies with the over-the-top deaths. Acting out someone’s demise can be tough, because as far as we know, no one has successfully died and been able to come back and tell an actor how to do it.
Canadian actor Gig Morton recently portrayed the untimely death of his character in the hit show Supernatural. Morton, who has received six Young Artist nominations and a nomination for Best Performance in a Youth or Children’s Program or Series at the 2013 Leo Awards, is recognized in Canada as being at the top in his craft. He excelled in physical comedy after his work on the sitcom Mr. Young. His work on Supernatural was definitely not meant to be funny, but was a master class in how to die onscreen. Here are his tips:
- Commit to it.
One of the most important things about dying on screen is committing to it. Hesitation can ruin the flow of the on-screen death. Commitment is not only a professional responsibility, but also a necessity for any type of physical acting. Every time I have done physical acting, whether it be in Mr. Young or Supernatural, not letting myself hesitate is what made it work and feel special.
- Practice it.
Like any stunt, an on-screen death is something that has been choreographed. The better and smoother the action can be the more believable and real it can become. Similar to a dance routine, practice makes perfect. Knowing the physical movements in a scene is just as valuable as knowing the dialogue.
To create a believable action sequence takes cooperation between actors, stunt coordinators, and all of the crew members on set. It is important to mention how crucial communication is to ensure optimal safety for everyone in the scene. Communicating with the director to make sure their vision can be achieved is also an important part of the process.
Dying on-screen is just like most physical acting requirements. Don’t overdo it, because it will probably get a laugh rather than a tear or gasp.