Physical transformations are very common among method actors. They lose and gain a lot of weight to look like the character they envision.
But sometimes some actors push themselves too far, physically and psychologically, that it ends up giving us roles that are remembered for decades. Some actors crawl into a character’s skin so much so that they take in all the mental and physical disabilities and quirkiness that comes with the role.
Even in this small group of devoted method actors, some took it just too far.
1. The whole cast of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest lived in a real mental asylum to prepare for their roles
If you have seen the movie, the whole film is shot inside a psychiatry ward of a mental asylum. During the shoot, the whole cast stayed in a real mental asylum to get the feel of it.
Danny Devito actually made an imaginary friend during the filming to make his character as real as possible. Sydney Lassick, another actor suffered a mental breakdown during the filming of the last scene.
Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched, stripped off her clothes and became naked in front of her entire cast and crew to assure them that she was in fact, a real woman.
2. Adrien Brody gave up everything to simulate the feeling of loss to prepare for his role in The Pianist
Adrien Brody went through literal hell to prepare for his role in The Pianist.
He lost 12 kilos for the role, gave up his cell phone, his car and his apartment. And when I say gave up I mean he sold every one of those things.
Oh yeah, he broke up with his long-term girlfriend too. So the next time you see the scene where he is crying like he has lost everything in the world in the movie, he meant that.
Adrien Brody remains the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor at 29 years of age.
3. Ashton Kutcher had to be hospitalized because he got too much into character for the movie Jobs
Ashton Kutcher is not a method actor. Many critics do not even consider him an actor either. But for the role of Steve Jobs, Kutcher went on a complete fruit diet – just like real life Steve Jobs.
And two days before the filming Kutcher ended up in the hospital with severe Vitamin deficiencies and reduction in bone density.
4. Robert DeNiro did really badass things for his preparation of his signature roles in Taxi Driver and The Raging Bull
Robert Deniro is a certified badass. During his golden age when he acted in Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Goodfellas, he pulled some a really awesome bag of method acting tricks.
For Taxi Driver, he actually got himself a fake and illegal licence that he used to drive people around in New York city at night. He also got into the character of boxer Jake LaMotta for the movie Raging Bull. He practised boxing so viciously that he even broke LaMotta’s ribs and teeth while sparring with him.
Then he put on more than 20 kilos of fat right after he got ripped and in shape for the same fricking movie!
5. Nicholas Cage freaked his co-stars out during the filming of Ghost Rider
In Ghost Rider, Nicolas Cage’s face is completely CGI when he becomes the Rider. But that didn’t deter him from getting into character at all.
He used makeup on his face so that he looked like a corpse and carried Egyptian symbols with him to invoke ghosts and spirits. While he did all this, he got into character so much that his co-stars literally got scared of him. He also refused to speak to any of his co-stars between scenes which added to this fear.
6. Daniel Day Lewis broke two ribs while acting in the movie My Left Foot
Daniel Day Lewis is probably the finest actors to have ever lived. He is well-known to really get into the character’s skin. In My Left Foot, DDL portrayed a handicapped hunched person. He literally remained hunched for the whole duration when the movie was being filmed – and that meant even when the shooting was done.
DDL ended up with two broken ribs.
He also refused to come out of character at all. That meant that the crew had to literally spoon feed him between takes as he was playing the role of a disabled person.
7. Shia Labeouf cut himself up and kept the wound open for the whole duration of the shoot of the movie Fury to keep it as real as possible
Shia Leboeuf really went the whole nine yards for this role.
For starters, the cut you see on his right cheek was inflicted by Shia Lebouef himself. Then he proceeded to pull one of his teeth out too.
Then he didn’t take a bath for 30 days straight. The rest of the cast and crew could not bear the smell and they arranged a separate room for Shia Lebouef to crash after the shoots.
8. Anne Hathaway took weeks to recover from the role she played in Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway literally became obsessed with her role. She dropped nearly 10 kilos and ate nothing but oatmeal paste for weeks. She shaved her head and because her character of Fantine went through a lot of hardships, Anne Hathaway admitted that she was physically and psychologically deprived.
She said that it took her weeks with her love to feel normal again.
9. Johnny Depp smoked near a container full of gunpowder
Johnny Depp portrayed the crazy Hinter Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson was a crazy guy who stored gunpowder and Nitroglycerine in his basement. Johnny Depp slept on a bed right next to these extremely dangerous containers of explosives at Thompson’s place.
He completely took on the character and even did hard drugs while he was in there.
He turned up for the audition in Thompson’s personal clothes that hadn’t been washed in over 30 years. He nailed the role.
10. Jared Leto amps up his game too, for playing the Joker
After Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, the expectations are way higher. Fortunately, Jared Leto is not far behind either. He is following the footsteps of Ledger in preparing himself for the crazy role of the Joker.
He sent his Suicide Squad castmates weird gifts. He sent Margot Robbie really creepy love letters and a dead rat and sent Will Smith bullets. Then he sent the whole cast a video of him with a dead pig.
The characterization is getting so out of hand that the producers have hired on-site therapists to take care of the cast’s sanity during the whole shoot.
Let’s see how the movie turns out, as the trailer does look very promising.
11. Heath Ledger scared everyone on the sets of TDK so much that Michael Caine forgot his lines
Heath Ledger shut himself in a hotel room for more than a month and met no one. In that time, he scribbled crazy stuff – things his character The Joker would find funny. He starved himself and went into depression, which became so bad that he had to take prescription pills.
When he finally made it onto the set where he enter’s Bruce Wayne’s party, Michael Caine was so terrified that he forgot his lines!
The combination of insomnia and depression and prescription pills eventually led to his death.