7 Times Actors Got 'Too Method'

Being an actor seems weird. You get paid to be a completely different person for months at a time, then go back to being yourself. How do these folks cope? How do they switch from role to role and not get lost in their ever-changing identities? Well, as some of these stories will attest, they sometimes get deep into “method acting”, a technique that involves making your present truth as close to the character’s present truth as possible. Some actors, however, take this a little too far.

Jared Leto in Suicide Squad

method actor jared leto the joker suicide squad

To play the clown prince of crime in the upcoming DC extravaganza Suicide Squad, Jared Leto threw himself into the role, making crew members call him Mr. J and refusing to meet star Will Smith outside of character. Yet his intensity wasn’t just internal — he also gave some grotesque gifts to his castmates, including a dead rat to Margot Robbie, bullets to Will Smith, and a dead hog for everyone to “share”. After all this uncomfortable work, this killing joke better be funny.

Adrien Brody in The Pianist

method actor adrien brody the pianist

For Adrien Brody, winning a Best Actor Oscar came at quite the cost. To play the title role of the emaciated Holocaust survivor, Brody gave up every convenience of modern living and moved to Europe to be alone. “I gave up my apartment, I sold my car, I disconnected the phones, and I left,” he said. That wasn’t enough for the actor, as he furthered his commitment to the role by losing 30 pounds in six weeks. “There were times when I was concerned that I might not be able to get out of it sane, because I didn’t realize how far it had taken me,” he eventually admitted.

Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man

method actor dustin hoffman marathon man

In many ways the poster boy for method acting, Dustin Hoffman took himself to the limit for this tense thriller about a torturing Nazi. He actually took up marathon running, losing 15 pounds. In scenes where he had to appear tired, he would refrain from sleeping at days at a time. During a scene where his head was being held under water, he advocated for his costars to try and drown him in real life. This was all a bit much for his more old-fashioned costar Laurence Olivier, who legendarily responded to Hoffman’s method shenanigans, “Why don’t you just try acting?”

Nicolas Cage in Birdy

method actor nicolas cage birdy

Now known for his, uh, interesting performance choices more than his dedication to the craft, Nicolas Cage went the extra mile to portray a deformed Vietnam vet in the film Birdy. To get to the right emotional and physical space, Cage had some of his teeth pulled and spent five weeks off-set with his head completely wrapped in bandages. “Men and women laughing, kids staring,” Cage said of the reactions to this choice. “And when I took the bandages off, my skin was all infected because of acne and ingrowing hairs.” Not the bandages, not the bandages!

Jamie Dornan in The Fall

method actor jamie dornan the fall

Has anyone else’s method acting come this close to being an actual crime? To play a serial killer in TV show The Fall, actor Jamie Dornan, perhaps best known for his work in Fifty Shades Of Grey, actually stalked and followed someone home from the subway to get a taste for the thrill of the chase. “It felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way,” he said. “I’m sort of not proud of myself. But I do honestly think I learned something from it, because I’ve obviously never done any of that. It was intriguing and interesting to enter that process of ‘what are you following her for?’ and ‘what are you trying to find out?’” Many of his female fans took to Twitter to express umbrage of his unsavory methods.

Joaquin Phoenix in I’m Still Here

method actor joaquin phoeniex i’m still here

To inhabit the satirical world of I’m Not Here, Joaquin Phoenix pretty much threw a grenade at his own personal career. He gained weight and an unsightly beard. He affixed sunglasses to himself, seemingly permanently. He went to nightclubs and performed horrible hip-hop. He did whatever this is on Letterman. For a while, the world was convinced that Phoenix had just literally gone insane. When it was all revealed to be a huge collection of method acting moments for a mockumentary, the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Daniel Day-Lewis in, well, everything

method actor daniel day-lewis

For My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis spent so much time in a wheelchair being spoon-fed that he damaged two ribs. While shooting In The Name Of The Father, Day-Lewis ate nothing but prison rations, spent the night in a jail cell set, and demanded the crew throw verbal abuse and actual cold water at him. In Gangs Of New York, he got a horrible case of pneumonia because he wouldn’t wear a thicker coat. The reason? His poor character wouldn’t own such an extravagant item. Basically at this point, there’s a good chance “Daniel Day-Lewis” isn’t actually a real person, but instead, the “resting role” this actor commits himself to 100 percent of the time he’s not shooting a movie.

Which actor’s behavior seems the weirdest to you? Do you think such techniques are worth it? Would you go through something like this for a role? If you’re interested, I’ve spent the last eight months eating nothing but kale and twigs for my role as Snarky Twitter User“, so why not check that out?

Greg Smith
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Super awesomeness is the already-awesome John Barrowman…