Advanced Acting Training – Working with Opposing Objectives

Sometimes in life we have opposing objectives with those that we are closest with. For example, you and your best friend had the primary objective of graduating high school; however, upon graduation you are moving west to pursue a career in the film industry while your friend’s objective is to stay in his current city and go to community college. It is within these opposing objectives that your relationship can become strained, arguments may ensue and the future of your bond is in jeopardy.

As an actor, you will commonly come across opposing objectives within a script, and in order to accurately portray your character and relay the true story of the script you must understand how to play against opposing objectives.

The Relationship

How your character will approach an opposing objective is based on the relationship with the other “person.” For example, your basis of emotional give-and-take will differ if the opposing objective with “your” mother or with “your” best friend.

In order to properly face these different objectives, you must first understand the true relationship with the other character. What is your history? What is your closeness to this person? How will your character approach him/her with the his questions or concerns? Will you argue or understand that you must go different ways? Internally, how does your character feel?

Approaching the Objectives

When you must approach the opposing objectives with the other character, you must do so in a manner that is lifelike to your character. You must engage in “action verbs.” For example, if your lover is thinking about moving away, but you want him to stay, your action verbs may include: seducing, longing, explaining or challenging.

The primary incentive when approaching opposing objectives is to create an action verb that requires your character to perform other steps in order to meet his goal, whatever that may be.


Acting on stage or in front of the camera, you must engage in psychological objectives in order to stimulate your actions to meet your primary objective. For example, sitting your lover down to discuss your feelings is just one action of meeting your objective. Upon doing so, you must engage in various psychological techniques to try to convince him to not leave, but stay with you. What is the desperation within your character’s mind? What does he wish to accomplish within this conversation(s)?

When scoring your scene, write down all of the psychological objectives within the scene. The purpose for this is psychological objectives stimulate your imagination in a greater manner than physical objectives (or physical actions), which can help make your character come across as realistic, sincere and believable.

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