Ever since the beginning of cinema in the late 19th century, people have expressed themselves through various forms of motion pictures- comedy, sports, action, and more. But one thing that so many seem to fly past is to what extend acting really is a strong form of self expression. In every character actors portray there’s always a different version of themselves they bring out in order to truly portray said character properly. In a way, these characters would be real if not for a simple name change + personality.
The most basic form of acting at least to my experience would be in the form of cosplay. Every year (pre COVID) millions gather at comic conventions around the world and every year on Halloween, people dress up; transforming themselves for at least just one day into a different character. Be it a character they look up to, a villain they feel like dressing up as, or even something generic just to have fun. Fashion being one of the most visceral forms of art, truly is a strong form of self expression. But, how you look is just one part of the story; the other part, is the person behind it.
Back in the days of silent cinema, the only true way of expression was through dress up and visual expressions. But now, cinema has evolved so much beyond that, with the addition of voice as well as so much more. When we watch a movie, we do our best to relate to the characters in order to truly grasp the story and understand their perspective. In doing so, we better understand ourselves & perhaps even others we know who have more in common with said character.
Now, imagine being on the other side- portraying said character. Acting truly is a strong form of self expression as when actors portray the many characters, they also do see themselves in the characters even a tiny bit in order to truly get it. From every side of themselves be it life experiences, emotion, etc…, acting is the most unique form of self expression as it does evidently bring out so many parts of ourselves that there are some we did not even know were there. That is why acting is one of the highest paying jobs; because it takes great effort to really bring out parts of yourselves to transform into a whole other character.
Elizabeth Olsen portrays this perfectly in her roles; WandaVision, Ingrid Goes West, and Martha Marcy May Marlene. In each of these movies/shows, she portrays a whole different character with a whole other personality. WandaVison; Wanda who was traumatized and faces grief, Martha Marcy May Marlene which also portrays a very strong PTSD character, then there’s also Ingrid Goes West where she portrays one that is entirely outgoing & extroverted despite being an introvert in real life.
All in all, acting is a powerful form of self expression be it through cosplay, movies/tv shows, or plays, each actor does truly bring out another version of themselves to portray roles. Seeing themselves in those characters, and taking that to the next level. “Acting is a form of self-expression, it’s not becoming someone else… it’s about using the fiction… to express something about yourself.” – Maggie Gyllenhaal