Whether this is the new generation or the old, there is never a shortage of method actors are all over Hollywood. They continue to magnetize the screen with their stellar performances and manage to rake several awards for them. So what exactly is method acting? And why do majority of the actors now resort to such method to get into character? Well, for one thing, it allows them to totally immerse themselves in a role, making their acting performances even more believable.
Some method actors have actually gone to the extremes for the sake of a movie role. Here are Hollywood stars who put their mind and bodies to the test in preparation for their movie roles.
5 Insane Things Method Actors Did to Get into Character
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio is often regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation. Throughout his career, he has displayed a remarkable range in his acting and was even awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2016. But it was DiCaprio’s performance in Django Unchained that showed the world how dedicated he is to his craft.
In one scene, DiCaprio slammed his hand so hard on a table that he cut himself badly. Instead of calling for medical help, he kept going and managed to stay in character. The next time you find yourself watching this Tarantino masterpiece, keep your eyes peeled for the scene.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis, The Last of the Mohicans
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most recognized method actors in Hollywood. He has left audiences in awe with his performances in Lincoln and My Left Foot. For Lincoln, the English actor spoke in the 16th president’s American accent for months that he even began speaking in the same tone to his own family. His preparation for My Left Foot is something that couldn’t be overlooked either, as he broke two ribs and refused to leave his character’s wheelchair even when the cameras stopped rolling.
In The Last of the Mohicans, Day-Lewis was cast as the adopted son of a Native American tribe. While researching his character, Day-Lewis underwent rigorous weight training and resided in the same forest where his character lived. Throughout his stay in the wilderness, he learned to camp, hunt, and fish all on his own for six months.
3. Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
When Michelle Williams was cast to play Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, the actress was skeptical about accepting the role in fear that she wouldn’t be able to do the role justice. To really immerse herself in the life and persona of the pop culture icon, Williams spent six months reading diaries, letters, poems, biographies, and notes about Monroe. She would spend several hours in a day just watching Monroe’s films and listening to recordings of her. To achieve the look, Williams gained weight and worked with a choreographer to perfect Monroe’s signature walk.
4. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight Rises
Speaking of Williams, it is unfortunate that her ex-husband Heath Ledger was taken from this world far too soon. He did, however, manage to leave a mark by bringing to life one of comic book’s most feared villains, The Joker. To get ready for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight, Ledger had to descend into madness himself. He locked himself in a hotel room for a month and kept a “Joker diary,” which he would later take on set. The writings on the diary contained photos of Malcolm McDowell‘s character Alex in the film A Clockwork Orange. It also had pinned photographs of The Joker and other sinister-looking clowns.
Sadly, a few months before the film was slated to be released, Ledger died from a lethal overdose of prescription drugs. Many have speculated that it was his preparation for The Joker that triggered his sleepless nights.
5. Christian Bale, The Machinist
Ledger’s co-star Christian Bale is a mast of method acting. When he was cast as the insomniac Trevor Resnick in The Machinist, Bale willingly dropped 122 pounds. He survived by feasting on a single can of tuna and an apple each day. Bale had to gain back all the weight when he prepared for his role as Batman in Christopher Nolan‘s iconic trilogy, so he worked hard to put on 100 pounds of pure muscle before filming began.