Like most things, becoming a good scene partner takes time and practice. There are actors out there that spend years perfecting their craft, and they know that it's just as crucial to their skillset to interact with other actors during a scene as it is to perform well.
There are no amount of acting articles you can read that will prepare you to become an amazing scene partner because, frankly, it takes plenty of hands-on practice. However, you can pick up loads of advice along the way to bring with you to rehearsals, class, and set.
A Great Scene Partner is Kind
Always be kind to your scene partner, no matter what situation. Perhaps you don't get along off set, or maybe you believe their performance will be terrible, but truthfully, neither of these issues is your problem.
Give the scene everything you've got, and be kind in the process. Inflicting harshness on your scene partner won't do either of you any good. Kindness, however, will fuel the creative process and encourage teamwork.
Active Listening is Essential
Taught in elementary school, active listening is a significant component of being an adult. To be an adult, you must be able to listen to others, and this concept majorly applies to the craft of acting, especially when you're sharing a scene.
Listen to your scene partner's body language and the words that are coming out of their mouths. You cannot possibly play off of them if you aren't listening, and the scene will appear awkward at best. Stay in the moment at all times, and keep yourself focused on the task at hand.
Learn How to Take Direction
Taking direction is a true sign of experience and professionalism. Whether you're the star of the scene or not, do your best to take direction because the scene will not be able to move forward if you can't.
Communication is a massive piece of the acting puzzle. You've got to know how to communicate clearly and effectively with everyone on the set, despite language barriers and varying terminology. Asking questions is the best way to amp up your communication skills because it can quickly eliminate misunderstandings.
Fully Grasp the Concept of Going with the Flow
If you can't go with the flow, you better end the scene, pack up and head home. Rigidity has no place in acting, especially when you're playing off of a partner.
Instead of locking yourself into a vision of what you think the scene should be, focus more on what it could be, allowing direction and scene partners to lead you down a different path concept-wise if that's the case. Sometimes, a scene will go precisely as you've planned it, but this is a rare phenomenon in the field of acting.
Becoming a great scene partner means that you can recognize when things aren't all about you and set your ego aside to create an outstanding result. Surprise your partner by finding spontaneity and working with them to bring the scene to life.
Professionalism and Preparedness are the Keys
Always be sure that you're showing up for your scenes ready to work, prepared, and professional. Know your lines, know the names of the crew and the cast, and be on time.
Becoming a fantastic scene partner takes practice, but overall, it's practicing simple consideration for those around you. Remain open to new ideas, and no matter how many times you've tackled the same scene, do so with enthusiasm.
Doing the same thing every day can become tedious, and performing as a screen partner is no exception. Be confident, be courteous, and brush up on your listening skills; then, watch your career take off!