I want to talk about the influence of stories. All actors are storytellers. Remember that, particularly for the end of this post.
Now, see this kid on a horse? He eats stories for breakfast. I should know. That's a decade-and-a-half-old picture of me.
I inhaled stories. I absorbed them through my pores. I didn't even know it half the time. I don't just mean books. Sure, I read stories like a sponge soaking up spilled water, but I would watch TV, movies, listen to my parents and grandparents, NPR, friends, teachers, whatever came within range. I'd play videogames on a game boy with the volume off while re-listening to audiobooks of Sherlock Holmes tracking down impossible criminals, James Herriot getting kicked in the shins by large animals he was trying to take care of, or Patrick McManus hilariously getting chewed out by his wife/best friend/parents/inanimate objects when all he wanted to do was go fishing.
These had an effect.