Adrian Martinez has hacked the ever-tricky co-star role. Though auditioning for a couple of lines on a TV show may seem like a piece of cake, for many it’s harder than preparing a meaty leading role. While the memorization is a walk in the park, fleshing a performance out of little material can be a marathon. Fortunately, veteran actor Adrian Martinez believes in passing on knowledge to his fellow artists still hustling out there.
Martinez’s strong presence has carved him a spot as one of the most successful character actors working today. With over 100 television and film credits to his name, such as supporting roles in Focus alongside Will Smith and Margot Robbie and I Feel Pretty opposite Amy Schumer, and lead roles in movies like i-Gilbert, Martinez has a wealth of experience to draw from.
While speaking on The Art of Kindness podcast, the former National SAG-AFTRA Board Member broke down something many actors find it hard to master: the co-star role! Here are three key takeaways:
1. Treat co-star roles as you would principal ones.
“The character doesn’t know that he’s a dayplayer,” Martinez says. “The character’s the character and for the one or two minutes of screen time, you’re the star. You’re the one that everyone is watching. I don’t think of it as anything less or more. It’s a character.”
His “person-first” attitude is wonderful because it throws rank out the window. Approaching every role from a more personal and human perspective versus the business side is extremely healthy.
2. Create a backstory.
“That character has a backstory like anybody else,” Martinez proclaims. Of course, if you’re playing grocery store clerk #2, you may think a backstory is a waste of time, but diving into that clerk’s day and all the intricacies of what they were doing before their one or two lines occur can make all the difference. Does the clerk love their job more than anything? Or perhaps they are dying to get home and couldn’t care less about checking out shoppers.
Adding some foundation to your role will give your fertile ground to stand on and thus inform how you say your lines. When you ground your performance in the scene’s given circumstances, you help propel the story forward which is a co-star’s purpose.
3. Make it your own.
“I always try to make the character my own whether it’s a full lead role or supporting role or whatever it is,” Martinez notes. “Each character is a three-dimensional person and that’s my approach. I make sure I learn my lines as much as possible and really dive in. I really try to come up with a physicality or voice or something that makes my interpretation of the role unique.”
Martinez’s sentiment harks back to a saying we’re taught as youngsters: “be yourself.” It is both the easiest and hardest part to play. However, when you’re able to bring your unique self to every role, you give casting directors and the audience something real to digest. And bringing reality to fiction is the key to nailing any role.
Robert Peterpaul is a writer and actor who can be seen in James Franco’s film “King Cobra,” T-Mobile ad campaigns, and Amazon Prime’s “New Dogs, Old Tricks.” Other career highlights include working on NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “America’s Got Talent,” BUILD Series, writing for HuffPost, and his family’s nonprofit, the Thomas Peterpaul Foundation, which aims to end pediatric cancer. Robert currently serves as the weekend editor for HOLA! USA. He’s studied at the Barrow Group, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, UCB and earned a B.A. from Marist College (go, Red Foxes!). Robert thanks you for reading and hopes you’ll follow your bliss! www.robertpeterpaul.com