Method Acting: Taking Entertainment to the Next Level
We all know that actors each have an acting style of their own. When an actor decides on a unique technique to use to approach his work, it tends to make headlines. Actors have been using various methods of climbing into the heads of their characters for years, and here we take a look at some of the most extreme actors, who have selected the most bizarre techniques to deliver their roles.
Adrien Brody – The Pianist
It was in 2002 that Adrien Brody landed himself the lead role in The Pianist, as ‘Wladyslaw Szpilman’. Brody didn’t waste time – he quickly immersed himself in the character, reading the World War II memoirs of Szpilman’s to get into his head. He went on a drastic diet and dropped to 130 pounds before filming.
Besides this, he also spent four hours every day learning how to play the piano. That’s not all. Brody moved to Europe, sold his car, and even disconnected his cellphone to get into character. It took Brody over six months to recover after shooting the film. Thankfully, the film came to high acclaim, or else it would have been all in vain.
Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon
Back in 1999, Jim Carrey landed himself the comedy role as ‘Andy Kaufman’ in Man on the Moon. Carrey apparently channeled Kaufman into his personal life and felt that it was necessary to be in character 100% of the time. Besides this, he also had emotional reunions with Kaufman’s surviving family members. In his efforts to come to grips with Kaufman’s alter ego, Carrey crashed a convertible, went on several drunken tirades, and much more. Carrey’s psyche suffered as a result of this. When the shooting wrapped up, Carrey didn’t even know who he was anymore.
Nicolas Cage – Birdy
Nicolas Cage’s acting method has received mixed feelings from the media and the acting community. Cage is popular for going to extremes to get himself into character for roles. However, one instance that particularly stands out is his character in Birdy. He plays the role of a disfigured Vietnam veteran. In preparation for the part, Cage actually had his wisdom teeth extracted, sans anesthesia.
He spent several weeks with his face covered in bandages. Cage did this to experience discomfort and pain that his character would have experienced. He even wound up with an infection and sores on his face as a result. Granted, Birdy is one of his best early performances. Perhaps there is something to this method of acting after all…
Christian Bale – The Machinist
As far as method acting goes, Cage isn’t alone in this century of actors. Christian Bale hit headlines for jeopardizing his health with his method acting for the role of ‘Trevor Reznik’ in The Machinist. The 2004 film had Bale losing a whopping 63 pounds to perform the role. Bale actually lived off of an apple and a can of tuna every day or several weeks before shooting began. Bale took six months to pack on 109 pounds for Batman Begins after the filming of The Machinist. Now that’s something.
Antonia Campbell-Hughes – 3096 Tage
The German drama 3096 Tage prompted actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes to embrace that ‘art is pain’. The actress shaved her head and took on an extreme diet to play ‘Kampusch’, an Austrian girl of less than 100 pounds who was held in a dungeon but eventually escaped her captor. Campbell-Hughes suffered multiple real-life injuries on set, including a broken toe, broken rib, a torn Achilles tendon, and many bruises, scrapes, and cuts.
All of this really brings you to question whether everything is really fair game when it comes to the pursuit of entertainment or ‘art’. For many acting professionals, as you can see, their acting style comes at a price. Sometimes, there is such a thing as too far. However, that is precisely what ‘method acting’ is all about – taking the roles beyond their screen time and adopting them in real life until the end of filming.
Acting has never been wilder than that! These actors are a few of many who follow the same method acting principles, and they all stand by their style of entertainment. Acting is art for these performers, and they make many sacrifices to deliver. The next time you watch a film with a method actor as a member of the cast, take the time to really appreciate the effort and sacrifice they made into delivering the flawless performance.
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