Loser's Guide to Life
On the filming of Dr Strangelove, Ken Adam, in an interview in Christopher Frayling's Ken Adam and the Art of Production Design, remarks that Peter Sellers had a great deal of difficulty coming up with a characterisation for U.S. President “Merkin Muffley”. Adam claims Sellers felt lost unless he had something to parody, and nothing offered itself.
It's curious, because I have always found it to be one of his subtlest characters: the physical stiffness, the demeanour, and the accent of course. His accent was both catalyst and constraint.
I sometimes think people would be better off looking for someting to parody instead of trying to develop an original identity on their own.
Maybe they do!