You need to know when you are faking it and when the emotion is real. One of the biggest things I continue to struggle with is the realization that I am already good enough. I don't have to create an emotion. I don't have to make an extra this or an extra that. If the emotion is there, great, just walk into it - so to speak. But it's been a challenge for me not to conjure up some kind of an emotion when I believe the scene calls for it. When you've been trained so long in a certain thought, it becomes hard to break such old habits.
Boo hoo, woe is me and all that bunk.
And frankly, casting directors know when you are faking it; they see acting all day and there is no fooling them. So don't fake it! That way, at least they can call you an honest performer.
One of the things that helps me rid this nasty habit is a recently installed "bullcrap meter". Whenever the needle moves, I stop and start over again from a few lines before. It's been hard to install said meter, because I naturally want to make progress and blast through the piece - but my coach has made it obvious when his needle moves. There I am, in the middle of a piece, in front of the intimate acting class. I'm just chillin', siting in a metal folding chair and then......
"Nope! Start again." says Steve
Ok, I'll start again, I think....
"Ap! Ap! Ap! Ap! Ap!" instructs Steve
Oh boy, I guess I'll take that again.
"No Phillip, again." Steve rebukes
Ok man, just breathe you can do this, just speak!
"Hot Damn! One more time just like that." Steve encourages (!)
Focus....and here it goes...
"Ha! You son-of-a-bitch you!"
So here is my bullcrap meter hard at work as I wrestle a Iago monologue from "Othello". Obviously, ones bullcrap meter is always subject to calibration. [UPDATE: I now realize that I left out a line '....mere prattle without practice is all his soldiership. but he sir, had the election] followed by: and i, whose eyes had seen the proof.... Oh well, I'm not embarassed, it's not like it's on the internet for the whole world to see.