Are you an actor trying to make it big in Hollywood? If so, you probably heard of cold reading or even had the experience of doing Cold Reading during an audition. Either yes or no, let’s find out together, how to master this skill, or bring the chances a little higher. Cold reading is the process of quickly and effectively preparing for an audition or performance without prior knowledge of the script or character. It may sound like an impossible task, but with practice, patience, and a lot of humor, you’ll be nailing those cold readings as it is your new nature. In this article, we will provide you with tips and tricks to help you master the art of cold reading.
Before we start, we should put one thing into consideration. How much time you will have before the cold reading. Sometimes you are just going straight without any preparation, but sometimes they give you a few minutes to take a look at the script prior to the audition. If you are in the unlucky group, follow these basic steps and you are safe to have a successful cold reading.
Check my first article about Cold Reading – Mastering Cold Reading for Actors
Successful cold reading
- Listen and keep eye contact with your reader or colleague actor in the scene
As easy as it sounds, follow these steps and you will do a successful cold reading, these rules are basic for a cold reading, but if you are in the lucky group and have a few minutes to read thru and check the script. Let’s check some tips on what to do in the shortest time to be most effective, use this time to your advantage, and crash the audition. But don’t forget, these basic applies even to you lucky groupers.
Cold reading is like going on a blind date with a script.Michael Kostroff
Understanding the Script and Character
First things first, it’s important to study the script. Before your audition, take a quick glance at the script to get a sense of the overall story, setting, and tone. Because there is not much time to go deep, ask yourself basic questions.
Basic questions to breakdown the script for cold reading
What was a moment before the scene happened? Maybe you stepped into the situation, or you were sitting in the room when somebody else showed up, what happened before? etc.
Where the scene is happening? Is it inside or outside? Or, is it in the living room, office, or probably the warehouse? Is it in a park, a bus station? etc…
When the scene is happening? Is it day or night? Or is it spring or winter? Is it the middle ages? Or is it far in the future? etc.
The moment after the scene finishes? – Finish the action, don’t stop when it’s the end of the scene, but act till the end. Maybe you were about to leave, so don’t stop, but leave the scene, or maybe you were deep in emotions, so continue and stay in the emotion. Finish it and give a few beats before breaking the character.
Once you have a general idea of the script, take a closer look at the character you’ll be playing. Delve deep into their psyche and try to comprehend their inner workings, much like a detective piecing together a complex puzzle. By exploring their motivations, emotions, and actions, you can gain insight into the unique and complex ways in which human behavior is influenced by individual experiences and perspectives. Exploring psychology, even on a fundamental level, can be an incredibly powerful tool for uncovering the many layers of a character and bringing them to life in a realistic and authentic way. Here is a recommendation:
The point of cold reading is not to get it right, but to be able to do it at all.David Mamet
Staying Present in the Moment
It’s easy to get caught up in your script or your own performance, but that can take you away from what’s happening in the scene. Instead, stay focused on the moment, the other characters, and the story you’re telling. Be in the present, and listen to what others are saying in the scene, don’t read the lines along with them, but actually, listen.
It’s like trying to remember all the lyrics to a song while singing karaoke, just go with the flow, and if you mess up, just blame it on the alcohol, it always works. But please don’t, some of the casting directors might not have a sense of humor.
Confidence is Key for Cold Reading
Confidence is key when it comes to acting. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become. Believe in yourself and your abilities, after all, you’re the star of your own show. And let’s face it, confidence is key in any situation, whether on stage; it’s a valuable asset in any situation.
Flexibility is Important
Flexibility is also important, so be open to interpretation and willing to take direction. If you want to be an actor you just need to be willing to take direction, and if you are an actor already, well, you know what I am talking about. It’s like trying to learn a new dance, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. You may have an idea of how you want to play a character, but being open to other interpretations can make your performance even better.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
And most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with it! It’s acting! You should have fun, but I don’t mean to show up totally drunk or something. Yes, Have fun with it, but don’t forget to be professional. This is your job!
Cold reading is a skill that requires practice, patience, and a good sense of humor. So go out there and give it your best shot, and remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about giving it your all. And let’s face it, as long as you’re having fun, it’s always a good show.
In conclusion, cold reading is like a first date with a script – you’re both feeling each other out, trying to figure out if you’re a good match. So, just like a first date, don’t be too eager to impress, and don’t forget to be yourself. And if it doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other scripts in the sea.
And if you are feeling the cold reading is more like a blind date with a script, then use these tips and you’ll be able to charm your way into the casting director’s heart. Remember to listen, react, read, deliver, and repeat, like a good student in a classroom. Study the script, understand the character, stay present at the moment, be confident, and remain flexible to interpretation. And don’t forget to not take it too seriously, because you are in the entertainment industry, don’t you? So, put on your best performance, and break a leg! But not literally, because that’s bad for an actor’s career.
About the author:
My pursuit of artistic perfection extends beyond the stage and into the world of film. Represented by agent Jill Kabush at Dorothy S. Management, I am actively seeking opportunities to make my mark in the industry. Though my creative interests are diverse - including DJing and illustrating - my primary passion lies in acting. I received rigorous training at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts and have since performed in prestigious theaters such as Theater Around The Corner, Moravian Theater Olomouc, Theater DiGoknu, and Mlada Scena II. Through unwavering dedication and hard work, I continue to hone my craft and push myself to new heights in pursuit of artistic excellence.