Arts & Entertainment

Creating Characters: Costume, Part 2

Helen Mirren

Lesson time 8:40 min

Every piece of your character’s costume—down to the shoes—has to tell the right story. Learn how to evaluate accessories for your character.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Creating Characters: Costume, Part 2


Now speaking of color, and stuff around your face, this is gorgeous. The color is beautiful. It's alive. It's got a liveliness. But it's not overpowering. It's always lovely to have something you can play with in close up that just gives you a beautiful frame here, if you feel that's appropriate. It's also great, incidentally, to have something that, if you want to, you can kind of play with. If you feel that that's something that you're going to need in the scene, think about that. Think about maybe a scarf, or maybe a necklace, something to play with, another element that you can add for character And of course, purses for a woman or a man-- what does this tell about the character? It's old. It's heavy. It's ugly. It's period. So if it's modern, it's someone who hasn't bothered to buy a new one for a long time, someone who's very serious, who doesn't really care what something looks like. That's one thing. And here, we have a whole other story going on. Your purse is quite important. Because very often, you're opening it and getting stuff out. You have to check that it's easy to open and close if that's going to be a part of your action, so you're not fiddle-assing around and everybody's waiting for you to open your purse in the shot. So I'm terribly particular about the purse that I carry. Because I think women's purses are very much a reflection of who they are. Some are flashy. Some are very sober. Some are just not absolutely ---- a sort of kind of non-existent. Like this is someone who just doesn't care what they look like. This is a lady who is quite Bourgeois, quite elegant, obviously, and just-- it's color-coordinated. There's a little tiny thing here that's useful. Oh, look, it's got a little thing on it. Oh, that's cool. I didn't see that. That would be good, too-- but anyway, very, very, very different. Likewise, my god, glasses-- how much? I mean, think of the queen's glasses. It always a good thing, if it's appropriate, to wear a pair of glasses. What a world of difference between those-- sorry, I'll put them on again-- those and these, very earnest, very sweet, very whatever it is, owl-like. And then these are always a winner. You normally get a nomination if you wear glasses like these. Because they instantly give you, like, total character, especially if you're playing a Russian. A Russian with a bad wig and these glasses, nomination. I'll have to try it next time. Watches, you're never going to get a nomination for the watch you wear. But it tells the story that you want to tell. And maybe only you will know that. But what a world of difference between this little watch, this very work-a-day watch. Obviously, this watch tells a very specific story about a character. If the watch is going to play, you know there's going to be a close-up of i...

About the Instructor

In her first-ever online acting class, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren shares the techniques she has learned through the course of her international career that has spanned stage, screen, and television. Her powerful and versatile performances have earned her numerous awards, including the Academy Award in 2007 for her performance in The Queen, a Tony Award in 2015 for her performance in The Audience, and four Emmy Awards.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Helen Mirren

In 28 lessons, the Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony, and Emmy winner teaches her process for acting on the stage and screen.

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