8 Times Method Actors Went Too Far: DiCaprio, De Niro, Hoffman & More

Method acting has given us some of the most iconic performances of all time.

Whether Leonardo DiCaprio slept on an animal carcass for his role in The Revenant Whether or not he actually played a role in winning his Oscar, he did so in the name of artistic authenticity.

Rooted in Stanislavski’s practice, method acting techniques developed in Russia in the early 20th century.

Method actors try to go through the life experiences of their character, usually doing their best to fully immerse themselves in the role.

In most cases, a method actor will maintain an accent when the cameras aren’t rolling, read the novel the film is based on, and perhaps meet their character’s real-life counterparts.

Daniel Day-Lewis took this to new heights while filming The Crucible: He did not take a bath during the entire filming time.

While playing Natty Bumppo in Last of the MohicansDay-Lewis only ate food that he could catch or hunt himself.

But when your co-stars are affected and your lifestyle is drastically altered for a singular role, how far have you come?

Here are eight moments when actors took method technique to new extremes:

Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani inHouse of Gucci (2021)

Lady Gaga in the role of Patrizia Reggiani in ‘House of Gucci’ (2021)

(MGM)

Lady Gaga’s Portrayal of Patrizia Reggiani, Socialite and Ex-Wife of Maurizio Gucci, in Fashion Drama Biopic House of Gucci it was a process of “becoming” rather than “imitating,” he declared. The actress and pop star herself claimed to have lived as a Reggiani for nine months, on and off camera.

“I never broke [con el papel]. I stayed with her,” he said in interviews.

Gaga described Reggiani, who was convicted of hiring the hit man who shot and killed her ex-husband in 1995, as innocent but cunning. He dyed his hair brown and began to live his life differently: “I started to live in a way that whatever I looked at, whatever I touched, I started realizing where and when I could see money,” he told Vogue.

Unfortunately for Gaga, the Gucci family released a statement condemning the film’s portrayals, particularly her portrayal of Reggiani. The family stipulated that Reggiani “is portrayed not only in the film, but also in cast members’ statements, as a victim trying to survive in a masculine, macho corporate culture.”

“This could not be further from the truth,” the statement added.

Jeremy Strong as Logan Roy in Succession (HBO, 2018 – Present)

Jeremy Strong in ‘Succession’

(Graeme Hunter/HBO)

Jeremy Strong stars as the painfully flawed and troubled son of bullying media mogul Logan Roy, his portrayal of Kendall Roy in Succession of HBO involved emotional fatigue, minute intensity, and suffering.

In the process of becoming the disturbed character, Strong’s co-stars became concerned for his well-being.

Brian Cox, who plays Roy, told The New Yorker in a viral profile of Strong: “The result Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous. He only worries me about what he does to himself. I am concerned about the crises he puts himself through to prepare.”

But for Strong, embodying the character is part of the job. “I think it’s very important for acting work to have a personal experience,” she told GQ. “So it’s not just an imaginary experience, you go through something and it’s hard for you.”

And he added: “Maybe I grab the roses by the thorns.”

Strong won an Emmy for her performance in 2020.

Jared Leto as the Joker in suicide squad (2016)

Jared Leto in ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016)

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

In suicide squad In 2016, Jared Leto allegedly sent used condoms, sticky Playboy magazines, anal bead sex toys, and dead rats to his co-stars to change the mood between the actors.

“I did a lot of things to create a dynamic, to create an element of surprise and spontaneity,” he told AND! “The Joker is someone who really doesn’t respect things like personal space or boundaries.”

But how did this behavior impact his co-stars? “There were a lot of instances where I didn’t know what to expect from Jared,” co-star Margot Robbie admitted.

For the role of Leto in House of Guccihe told i-D magazine : “I was vacuuming lines of arrabbiata sauce halfway through this movie. It had olive oil instead of blood. This was a deep dive that I did.”

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in The Revenant (2015)

Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant’

(Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

To prepare for the role of Hugh Glass in The RevenantDiCaprio didn’t just camp out in the wild, he slept on an animal carcass, ate raw bison, and regularly swam in icy rivers.

“I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he detailed to Yahoo Movies.

“Whether it was getting in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping on animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [Estaba] constantly enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia.”

When the actor won what many felt was a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor, no one could accuse him of slacking off.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012)

Day-Lewis’s performance earned him an Oscar in 2013

(Getty)

For Steven Spielberg’s American Civil War epic, Day-Lewis sternly insisted on being addressed on set as “Mr. President.” He also claimed to have spent almost a year thinking about Lincoln and kept his Kentucky accent during filming.

To embody Lincoln’s mannerisms, Day-Lewis studied Alexander Gardner’s American Civil War photos and commented to the New York Times: I looked at them the way you sometimes look at your own reflection in a mirror and wonder who that person is looking back at you.”

He won the Best Actor award at the Academy Awards for his performance in 2013.

Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry (2000)

Hilary Swank in early 2020 (left), and on ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ (right)

(Robyn Beck/Getty/Fox)

In Boys Don’t Cry Hillary Swank played Brandon Teena, a transgender man. By today’s standards, casting a cisgender woman to play a transgender person would have sparked considerable debate. But in 2000, Swank did his best to embody the character’s emotions throughout the filming process and became very attached.

“Your heart is never fully repaired,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “You always carry these people and their beautiful spirits within your heart. They are all a piece of me. I think I’m a better person because of that.”

Dustin Hoffman as Thomas Bibington in Marathon Man (1976)

Dustin Hoffman in ‘Marathon Man’

(Paramount Pictures)

on the set of Marathon Man in 1976, Hoffman stayed awake for three days straight to prepare for a scene in which his character hadn’t slept for 72 hours.

“What did you do then?” asked the classically trained co-star, Laurence Olivier. “Well, I stayed up for three days and three nights,” Hoffman replied.

Laurence Olivier then gave her a rather scathing response: “Why don’t you try acting?”

Olivier’s classic Shakespeare experience versus Hoffman’s method is symbolic of the two worlds of acting training: method and non-method.

Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor for Kramer vs. Kramer Y rainman, in which he used his immersive method techniques for both roles.

Robert De Niro in…everything

Robert De Dino in ‘Taxi Driver’

(Ronald Grant Archive)

Robert De Niro learned Italian and lived in Sicily to prepare for The Godfather II. He also obtained a New York taxi license to Taxi drivergained 60 pounds (27 kilograms) to play Jake La Motta in raging bull and learned to play the saxophone for his role as Jimmy Doyle in New York, New York.

In a 2018 interview, De Niro cemented Guardian: “I am a perfectionist. I always try to do as much research as possible for a role.”

“For Taxi Driver, I actually drove a taxi for a few weeks. Maybe it wasn’t necessary, but it was something I wanted to do.”

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8 Times Method Actors Went Too Far: DiCaprio, De Niro, Hoffman & More


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