In the Russian theatrical tradition the term “system” has become firmly associated with the acting system or method of Konstantin Stanislavsky. It is but one of many schools of acting that emerged in twentieth-century theatre, each of them possessing its own technical and methodological principles, and based on its own philosophy of theatre and artistic ideology. Whether we are speaking of the theatre of Georg Fuchs, Gordon Craig, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Aleksandr Tairov, Yevgeny Vakhtangov, Bertolt Brecht, or Jerzy Grotowski, we find that these theatre visionaries tend towards radical self-determination regarding the principles of acting. The predominance of a director’s name in the designation of each school is not accidental. Acting technique was determined by the theatrical model in question. For this reason it is interesting to study a system developed in the twentieth century by an actor and for actors, because Michael Chekhov’s own acting, his theatrical theory, and his pedagogy, far from contradicting the aesthetics of the era of the director, once again confirm its predominance. The number of theatre roles performed by Michael Chekhov after he joined the First Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT) in 1912 is quite small. Excluding his early walk-on parts on the main stage of the MAT and concert performances, during the sixteen years of Chekhov’s Moscow period he played eleven roles. Curiously, during the twenty-seven years Chekhov spent abroad, apart from the previous roles of his Moscow repertoire and participation in random dramatizations of Anton Chekhov’s sketches, he performed in the theatre only five new major parts. Given this fact, I shall focus on the origins of his acting system in the Russian period, asking how his thinking changed over time.