When it comes to acting, not everyone is gifted. Day in, day out we see worst acting, bad acting, just acting and sometimes acting that transcends reality. There are various approaches that an actor implies for his/her role. One good way is the ‘Method’. Yes, method actors are a little too crazy for the role. They get under the skin of character to an extent that sometimes they don’t even come out of it, even though the camera is not rolling! Here is one such list of those actors who went a little too far with the method.
10. Billy Bob Thornton
For his role in the movie Sling Blade, actor Billy Bob Thornton was just not satisfied with normal techniques. To get the walk and the talk of character Karl Childers, who came out of a psychiatric hospital after 25 years, Thornton took the method a little too seriously.
It is said that for his preparation of the role, he put glass bits in his shoes, to feel the pain and limp around, just for the sake of character. This may be not what other actors will do, but yes, you have to be bold enough to use the method
His pain did not go in vain, as he was appreciated by many for his role and earned himself an Oscar nomination.
9. Hillary Swank
When Hillary Swank came for the audition for the role of Brandon Teena, in the movie Boys Don’t Cry, she got the part instantly. The reason was simple. She lived as Brandon Teena.
The character was a female to male transgender and Swank absorbed the role. She came for the audition in her husband’s dress and a cowboy hat. After she got the part, she adapted the method. She lived as a man for a month, introducing herself as Hillary’s brother, speaking in a low-pitched voice, cutting her hair short. She even managed to hide her feminine idiosyncrasies.
She was critically appraised for the role and got the Best Actress Academy award. But shouldn’t it be a Best Actor?
8. Adrien Brody
At the age of 29, Actor Adrien Brody got the Best Actor Academy Award, making him the youngest actor to win in the category. He got the recognition for his role in the movie The Pianist. What was so special about that role?
To attain perfection for the character Wladyslaw Szpilman, a pianist who actually survived the wrath of Holocaust, Adrien Brody took method acting to a whole new level. He mastered the craft of Piano, which was just a beginning of his method skills. He left all his belongings, like his cars, apartment and even his girlfriend, and shifted to Europe. According to the actor, it was necessary for him to gauge the depths of a person who has lost everything. Apart from the mental preparations, he dropped 30 pounds for the film.
Surely he deserved the Oscar for leaving his girlfriend for the job. That requires some guts!
7. Val Kilmer
Who doesn’t remember the portrayal of Jim Morrison by Val Kilmer in the movie, The Doors, right? Kilmer chose the method to live as Morrison and justify his character more than anyone else could.
Kilmer poduced an eight minute long music video, spending a significant amount of money, singing Morrison’s songs. This did not stop here. He talked for hours with people who were close to the late Jim Morrison, including producer Paul Rothchild. Rothchild remarked that Kilmer had seeped into the role so much that he cannot differentiate between him and Jim.
The film is still known for the mesmerizing performance by Val Kilmer, even though it did not go well on the box office.
6. Nicolas Cage
The film Birdy was based on two teenagers who had experienced Vietnam war, and their life has been affected by the trauma. Nicolas Cage had some other ideas for the role. He did not believe in faking the pain of the character, both physically and mentally. So he took the road of method.
It is said that Cage got a few of his teeth pulled out. This does not conclude here. He did that without anesthesia. Now, you can imagine the pain he might have felt during all those scenes. He also spent months under bandages wrapped around his face.
Cage said that people laughed at him off shooting, but critics appraised the dedication for the role. We all must.
5. Al Pacino
If we talk about method acting, it would be blasphemous to not name the great, Al Pacino. The actor is a critic’s delight and still considered one of the best actors to grace film industry with his talent. He wears the character like a robe and cruises through scenes as Al Pacino never existed, the character only lives now. There have been times when he went out of the boundaries with the method. One of them was his role as an honest police officer in Serpico.
He, in the character of Frank Serpico, was sublime. Once he stopped a speeding truck and tried to make an arrest, so as he could understand a cop’s character with practicality. This was not the only time he went too far.
In his Oscar winning role in Scent of A Woman, he played a blind character. Pacino claimed he could not see anything on the set for real! And, thus he got the well deserving Academy award, which he waited too long for.
4. Robert De Niro
If Pacino made it to this list, how could De Niro be left behind? Yes, I am talking about You, De Niro, if not to you! De Niro’s craze for method acting is not hidden in Hollywood lanes. He belongs to the same genre of acting skill as Al Pacino. De Niro also liked to experiment with reality to read deep into the character.
For his legendary role in the movie Taxi Driver, he got a driver’s license and drove taxi for months in the streets of New York City. He admitted that it helped him understand the character. This was not just it. For the second part of The Godfather trilogy, he shifted to Sicily to understand the language and character. The Academy rewarded him for that. He also gained 60 pounds for his role as mid-weight boxer in Raging Bull, perhaps the most beautiful work of his life. The Academy rewarded him again.
De Niro’s method madness is known to everybody and he justifies it pretty well.
3. Heath Ledger
Known to us for his brilliant portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight, Ledger was not what we see everyday. His dedication for the roles he played is extraordinary.
As long as he will be remembered as The Joker, the method he implied will also be recalled. He went berserk with the character understanding. To play the role, he merely slept for two hours a day. He prepared a diary with Batman comics’ clippings, A Clockwork Orange’s pictures and Joker cards. He just went a little too far. Far enough that he started suffering from insomnia. He was exhausted all the time.
He died from drug overdose in 2008 and was posthumously given the Academy award for the Joker. But there are speculations that the role took his life.
2. Christian Bale
If the Joker made it to the list, how can Batman be far off? Though, not as crazy as the Joker, Christian Bale is cut out from the method cloth. His rigorous preparation for any role he plays is just a mere example, to all normal human beings, that you must give your all to any work you do.
For his role in The Machinist, Bale dropped 63 pounds! Seriously! And that too, without any requests from anybody. He did that all by himself and for the sake of living the character.
It is said that he never consulted any medical guidance for his weight loss. He took it to such extreme that the producers had to intervene and resist him from going further, fearing that it would damage his health.
Although after the movie, he gained 70 pounds in 5 months for his role in the movie Batman Begins.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis
Almost any list of method acting is incomplete, if you don’t mention the genius, Daniel Day-Lewis. The exceptional actor that he is, Daniel Day-Lewis is sometimes impossible to handle when he is in the mood of method. There are various instances when he radicalized the method to such an extent that people were just bewildered by his technique, if not mesmerized.
He is insane with his methods and if you don’t believe, here are some examples. During the shooting of My Left Foot, in which he played a paralyzed poet Christy Brown, Day-Lewis refused to walk even after the completion of the shoot, to understand the humiliation faced by Brown in real life as he was carried by the crew members. Several humiliation and an Academy Award later, his role as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln is another specimen of his insanity. He stayed in the character after the camera went off and ordered everybody to call him Mr. President, even Steven Spielberg. God!
This man is just insane and we rarely get to see his insanity as he works rarely. This insanity has earned him the highest number of Best Actor Academy award. Ask his crew members if he deserved that for all the pain he gave them!