What Is Your Sexy and How To Do It On Screen.
While in life, most of us hope to be seen as "sexy" or at the very least "attractive," actors have to learn how to play characters that sometimes have a much higher "sexy quotient" than their own and sometimes one that is much lower. For instance, Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her role in Monster in which she looked like this:
And also appears like this in a series of commercials for Dior's J'Adore perfume:
The difference is so shocking, it’s difficult to believe it’s the same person, but that’s what’s known as acting. While there was a significant amount of makeup and effect work that went into transforming Charlize Theron into a likeness of female serial killer Aileen Wournos for Monster, Hollywood heart-throb Brad Pitt has developed a stellar reputation for playing very quirky, awkward characters like Chad Feldheimer in the Coen Brother's Burn After Reading.
Pitt's work with Feldheimer is a stellar piece of acting, because while Feldheimer is a personal trainer at a gym and possesses an attractive, athletic physique -all of the pieces for a hot, sexy character- Pitt brings all the right pieces together in such a brilliant way as to create a hugely awkward, decidedly unsexy character without any of the prosthetics or makeup help that Theron used for her transformation in Monster. Compare the above scene from Burn After Reading with this scene from the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The difference is marked, but it has nothing to do with looks or hairstyle or even physique.
While some of Hollywood’s hottest actors and actresses sometimes need to turn down their confidence quotient to play far less sexy characters than the actor themselves may be, many actors have to boost theirs to play a certain role. In the TV show House, M.D., Peter Jacobson played serial womanizer Dr. Chris Taub who needed to believable convince and audience that he was having an affair with Nurse Maya, played by a significantly more attractive Danna Brady.
So, if "sexiness" is not simply a matter of looks, what is it? How can you, as an actor, portray a character that is significantly sexier than you and conversely, how can a stunningly attractive man or woman play a significantly less attractive character?
Well, it turns out the old adage is true:
Confidence is sexy.
We’ve all heard this before, but knowing it and understanding it are two different things. Many people mistake arrogance for confidence, but in reality, arrogance is simply OVER-confidence, which is actually just another a form of insecurity. Arrogance is essentially the attempt to PROVE to others your own merit, worth or value, which is just a different way of expressing insecurity.
As an actor, you will need to play, confident, secure, arrogant and insecure characters, so here is an overview of the differences between the three - which may also help you embody or avoid these traits in real life as well.
Arrogance is characterized by a person that essentially "takes up too much space" in a room. They regularly talk to loudly and make extravagant gestures designed to draw attention to themselves. We're all familiar by now of the habit many men have of opening their legs wide in a public space so as to take up more room. This is a form of arrogance. Arrogance demands the best of everything - the best table, the best seats, the best spot in the room and they are constantly jockeying for something better than what they have. They seek to only date, marry or be seen with the most attractive and important people and will regularly drop one person the minute someone more attractive or important comes along. Arrogant people expect to be catered to and will create quite the scene if anyone fails to meet their high expectations. They tend to be flashy and showy, always wearing the best label clothing and accessories and making sure luxury items are extravagantly displayed. They also walk and stand - or pose- in ways designed to attract attention. Both women and men will throw their chests out and regularly walk with their heads held just a touch too high. They rarely ask permission and almost never apologize- for anything - unless it's to apologize for the incompetence of the people around them. They often show up late to meetings and appointments just because they can. Arrogant people tend to draw insecure people like flies to honey as insecure people are the ones most likely to mistake their arrogance for confidence.
Confidence comes from an innate belief in your own value, without needing an external means of proving it.
Confident people can be seated at the best or the worst table in a restaurant without taking it as an insult to their worth and their value. Confident people will both ask permission and apologize appropriately. They rarely fidget, and particularly not when it comes to their clothing. Clothing, to them, is not a means of covering their flaws and weaknesses – they could just as easily walk around naked as clothed, but they wear clothing out of respect to themselves and others. They also tend to not be too phased if they are either over or underdressed for a certain occasion. They tend to be on time for meetings and appointments, will frequently dress well below their means, drive older or less impressive cars and even live in less prestigious neighborhoods than their wealth would allow. While many of the most confident people tend to be wealthy because confidence tends to carry you far, many of the most confident people would be just as happy being poor as wealthy, because again – they don’t need their wealth to prove their value.
Insecure people tend to go in one of two directions: they will either wear skimpy, skin-tight clothing that shows off all their goods, or they will wear loose, baggy, unflattering and unattractive clothing to hide all their goods. Insecure people tend to both ask permission and apologize inappropriately. They are the people that will raise their hands in meetings and still ask to go to the bathroom at work and apologize not only for things that are not legitimately their fault, but also for things other people do as well. Insecure people are drawn like glue to arrogant people, as insecure people mistake their own extreme opposite as being confidence. Ironically, they will often scorn truly confident people as not being aggressive enough. Insecure people will generally show up excessively early for meetings and can be so distraught over being late that they will often cry and beat themselves up severely for it.