When we watch a movie we only see the end result of the hard work of the actors, directors, SFX magicians, and countless other vital staff members, but most of us don’t even stop and wonder “how did that guy manage to nail this character so perfectly? Maybe being an actor is easier than I thought?”
Well, the short answer is “it’s not”. Not easy at all, especially if you, as an actor, fully submerge yourself into the character and become one with that character. Method acting is perfect for getting a fresh new point of view on your character, what they do, how they do it, etc. But in exchange for these insights, the actors are sometimes forced to go to greater lengths than you’d ever imagine. So, let’s talk about there 8 crazy examples of method acting.
“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” – living in a mental institution
To better understand their characters, most of the cast of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” decided to sign into a mental institution either as patients or guards. This helped the movie get that much needed realism that the director was going for.
“Jungle Fever” – Hygiene? What hygiene?
Halle Berry is often criticized for showing off her killer body instead of actually acting, but back in 1991, when she played a homeless drug addict Vivian in “Jungle Fever”, Halle refused to take a shower for an entire month! Maybe not the best idea when you’re shooting a movie with hundreds of people involved in the production, but it worked and she nailed the role.
“Black Swan” – starvation and ballet classes
Natalie Portman’s Oscar for “Black Swan” was definitely not a fluke. She actually attended ballet classes for over a year to learn as much as possible and make her movements fluid and natural. In addition to that she hit the gym and swimming pool every day, and had a very strict diet, allowing her to eat only 1200 calories daily. But it was all worth it in the end!
Pretty much any Nick Cage movie
Yeah, it’s that old chestnut. Cage is well-known for his extreme method acting, so you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he actually had 2 teeth removed without anesthesia, for example, or that time when he deliberately got shit-faced, filmed himself and used that video to emulate an alcoholic in “Leaving Las Vegas”. I wonder if he also had a bunch of bees sting him on the face for “that” legendary scene…
“Taxi Driver” – try to guess.
When it comes to method acting and preparing for a role, Robert de Niro is the guy who will go above and beyond to make his character look amazing. To step into Travis’ shoes in “Taxi Driver” de Niro got an actual taxi license and drove people all over New York. He worked 12 hours a day for a week and then thoroughly analyzed his mental state.
“The Dark Knight” – isolation
Heath Ledger, who portrayed one of the best Jokers in the history of the Batman franchise, decided to lock himself up, away from people for six weeks. During this time he didn’t speak to anyone at all, which in turn gave his Joker that extra bit of craziness.
“My Left Foot” – going the extra mile
Daniel Day Lewis is one of Hollywood’s most talented actors. While filming “My Left Foot”, a movie about a paralyzed man, Lewis tried to stay in character till the very last day. He damaged two ribs in the process, but still refused to snap out of it. During lunch breaks, other people even had to spoon-feed him!
“The Pianist” – no more normal life!
To get into the shoes of a genius Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Spielman, who survived the holocaust, Adrien Brody wanted to experience what it was like to lose everything, so he sold his car, his apartment, his luxurious phone and even broke up with his girlfriend. Although, he did by himself a new car, apartment and gadgets, his GF, on the other hand, refused to come back to him.