20 Actors Who Channeled Their Inner Perfectionists To Prepare For A Role
Acting is not as easy as it seems – portraying a character probably requires much more than just dialogues and expressions. To embody a whole different personality is difficult but some actors are really good at it. In fact, some of them go to extreme lengths to prepare for a role.
Here is a list compiled by Bored Panda that discusses those actors who put all their efforts to make their characters realistic on-screen. From physical pain to mental agony, these method actors have gone through so much to portray their roles perfectly. Scroll below to read about the craziest things actors have ever done for a role.
#1 Anne Hathaway Lost 25 Pounds In 2 Weeks To Look Near Death
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“Anne Hathaway was casted for the role of Fantine in the 2012 movie Les Misérables based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The actress was playing a mother living on the street who had to sell her hair, teeth, and eventually her body to support her daughter Cosette.
Anne Hathaway made some sacrifices of her own to be a convincing character. She said, “I had to be obsessive about it — the idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience — and I don’t judge it in any way — it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who [my character] Fantine is anyway.”
She lost 25 pounds (11 kilograms) in two weeks by eating only dried oatmeal paste. Also, she didn’t settle for a wig and cut her hair off. The makeup artist and the director tried to talk her out of it but the actress thought it would help her comprehend the mother’s state better. Well, she absolutely did as she was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.”
#2 Heath Ledger Locked Himself Up For Weeks To Go Insane
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“Heath Ledger is often mentioned as the best actor to portray the biggest enemy of Batman, The Joker. Maybe it was because he used method acting and let the character overrun him. Heath Ledger would practice method acting regularly and to turn into The Joker he locked himself away for weeks to catch the insanity of the character.
He even asked his co-star Christian Bale to actually hit him during the interrogation scene. Christian remembers, “He was slamming himself around, and there were tiled walls inside of that set which were cracked and dented from him hurling himself into them. His commitment was total.””
#3 Jamie Foxx Spent 14 Hours A Day With His Eyes Glued Shut
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“Jamie Foxx started out as a comedian performing in clubs but quickly rose to fame as an awarded actor. He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 2005 for portraying the rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles in the 2004 movie Ray.
To prepare for this role, the actor lost 30 pounds (13 kilograms) to have the slender physique the musician had. What is more, Ray Charles was blind, so the film director Taylor Hackford thought that it would be a good idea to glue Jamie Foxx’s eyes shut for the whole 14 hours they were filming in a day. The actor agreed and had to wear prosthetic eyelids that were modeled from Charles’ own eyelids.
The actor reported that it was quite claustrophobic and he felt as if he was a prisoner in his own isolated world, but it made him portray the musician so brilliantly, he received the most prestigious award in the acting industry.”
#4 Christian Bale Lost 55 Pounds In 4 Months To Resemble An Emaciated Person
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“Christian Bale is known for his crazy body transformations. The most famous case is when he lost 55 pounds (25 kilograms) in four months to play Trevor Reznik, who became emaciated due to his insomnia, in the 2004 movie The Machinist.
To achieve the skeleton-like stature of a sick person, Christian Bale was just smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey. Later he ‘enriched’ his diet with black coffee, an apple and a tin of tuna every day.
When the actor reached 99 pounds (45 kilograms), the film producers managed to convince him to stop for health reasons. Considering the man’s height is 6 feet (187 centimetres), he was severely underweight and after years of gaining and losing weight as well as training for different roles, Christian Bale realized that at some point he had to stop as it was not beneficial to his health.”
#5 Shia LaBeouf Would Cut His Face Every Time He Worked On Set To Have Realistic Wounds
Image source: John Bauld
“Shia LaBeouf’s experience of shooting the 2014 movie Fury was an extreme one, but he made it so himself. The movie is set during World War II and LaBeouf’s character was Technician fifth grade Boyd “Bible” Swan, tank gunner.
For this role, the actor pulled his completely healthy tooth. He shared that it was actually hard to find a dentist who would do that. He also was constantly opening up slash wounds on his face with a knife, despite there being a crew of professionals who could recreate the same effect. What is more, he enlisted in the military and became a chaplain’s assistant to Captain Yates for the 41st Infantry.
He was so into the character that he was sitting in the tank all the time, even though someone else could have been operating it as the driver was not seen from the outside. Shia LaBeouf also didn’t shower and because of his behavior wasn’t very liked by others, so he was accommodated separately from other members of cast and crew.”
#6 Jim Carrey Never Broke Character While Shooting Man On Moon
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“Jim Carrey fully dedicated himself to the role of entertainer Andy Kaufman in the biographical movie Man On The Moon. The character never let go of the actor even when the shooting was done for the day.
The actor insisted on being called Andy all of the time on the set, or Tony, the comedian’s obnoxiously rude lounge singer alter ego. He didn’t break character even when Kaufman’s family visited the production. One of the most memorable moments was when Jim Carrey was in Tony mode. He found the keys from Danny DeVito’s trailer and locked it from the outside. The he drove a car up to the door of the trailer to block it and then threw away the keys into Los Angeles River.”
#7 Halle Berry Didn’t Shower For 2 Weeks For Her First Movie Role
Image source: Gage Skidmore
“Halle Berry’s first movie role was in the 1991 movie Jungle Fever where she played a small role of a drug addict. Despite it being a second-plan role, the actress took it seriously, wanting to prove that she had what it took to be a movie star. How did she decide to do that? She said, “I played a crack addict, and in order to do that, I was living on the streets. So I decided I was going to see what it would be like. I didn’t shower or take a bath for like two weeks.” The actress said that the other crew members were nice, but she noticed that they started to distance themselves from her.”
#8 Ashton Cutcher Followed Steve Jobs’ Diet And Ended Up In A Hospital For Pancreatitis, Twice
Image source: David Shankbone
“Ashton Cutcher portrayed Steve Jobs in the 2013 movie Jobs. To get to know his character better, Ashton Kutcher went to extremes Steve Jobs himself went to, but that caused the actor to end up in the hospital not just once, but twice. What led him to ruin his health was the fruitarian diet.
The actor found out that the Apple co-founder experimented with sometimes sticking to one fruit only, like apples or grapes, without eating anything else. Or drinking only carrot juice. This dedication meant that Ashton Cutcher developed pancreatitis and it was so bad he had to go to the hospital and not just once, but twice.”
#9 Lady Gaga Spoke In An Italian Accent For 9 Months
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“House Of Gucci is a recently released movie about the relationship between Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci. The main character, Patrizia, is portrayed by Lady Gaga, who had to embody Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, the head of the fashion house Gucci.
To make her performance the best, Lady Gaga told British Vogue that she was living as if she was Patrizia, “I lived as her for a year and a half. And I spoke with an accent for nine months of that.” She added, “Off camera [too]. I never broke. I stayed with her.””
Lady Gaga said, “It was nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde,” she continues. “I instantly had to dye my hair, and I started to live in a way whereby anything that I looked at, anything that I touched, I started to take notice of where and when I could see money. I started to take photographs as well. I have no evidence that Patrizia was a photographer, but I thought as an exercise, and finding her interests in life, that I would become a photographer.'”
#10 Ed Harris Learnt How To Paint
Image source: Gage Skidmore
“Jason Pollock was an American painter who is known for his “drip technique” in which he splashed paint all over the canvas.
In 2000, actor Ed Harris was chosen to portray the artist in the biographical movie Pollock. For this role, Ed Harris actually learnt how to paint. He would regularly visit galleries and just stare at the original paintings. He built a studio at his home in Malibu and tried out the unique technique that made the artist so famous. The actor knew such details like what cigarettes the artist liked and switched to the unfiltered Camel ones to get nearer to the painter. Harris visited the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton, NY, and slept in Pollock’s actual bed. To make an even more convincing character, Ed Harris gained weight to portray the painter in his final years before he died at age 44 in a single-car crash.”
#11 Johnny Depp Lived With The Person His Character Was Based On
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“In 1998 Johnny Depp got the role of Raoul Duke in the movie Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. The character Raoul Duke was based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name and in the movie, he and his friend Dr. Gonzo go on an adventure through Las Vegas as they explore it under the influence of psychoactive substances.
The actor and the writer got along really well, so Johnny Depp wanted to do his character who was loosely based on the writer justice. Johnny Depp moved into the basement of Thompson’s Aspen house for several months. The writer also let his friend pick some clothes from his wardrobe for shooting.
Johnny Depp spent so much time with his character and got so into it that many of the little tics that the actor adopted stuck with him even in real life and can be noticed in later movies.”
#12 Adrien Brody Broke Up With His Girlfriend, Gave Up On His Car And Apartment And Didn’t Use His Phone
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“The actor who played the musician Wladyslaw Szpilman in the 2002 movie The Pianist was Adrien Brody. The movie tells a story of a Polish-Jewish pianist who was a Holocaust survivor and the actor was waiting for such a serious role to fall in his lap.
At the same time, he felt that he had a very responsible job to do and wanted to do it justice. To prepare for the role, the actor lost 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) because he believed that “you can’t act emaciated, you have to become emaciated.” He also moved out from his apartment and gave up his car, he disconnected from the world by not using a cell phone. He went as far as breaking up with his then-girlfriend and learned how to play Chopin on the piano.
Adrien Brody won an Oscar for Best Actor at only 29 years old. But he confessed that the character didn’t let him go even after the shooting was done, “I was depressed for a year after ‘The Pianist,'” he said. “And I don’t suffer from that, generally. It wasn’t just a depression; it was a mourning. I was very disturbed by what I embraced [in making that film], and of the awareness that it opened up in me.””
#13 Robert De Niro Actually Got A Real Taxi Driver’s License And Drove Around New York City
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“The movie Taxi Driver (1976), which starred Robert De Niro, shows a 26-year-old Vietnam war veteran trying to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder living alone in New York and earning his living as a taxi driver.
Robert De Niro is known for dedicating himself to his characters. And for this particular role, he decided to try out the profession of a taxi driver for himself and he got a real cab driver’s license. He worked at a cab firm in New York for a month before the filming started. The actor worked 12-hour shifts and according to some people, he didn’t completely stop and would go to the streets on breaks in between filming.”
#14 Michael B. Jordan Isolated Himself For His Role Of Killmonger And Needed Therapy After
Image source: Gage Skidmore
“Michael B. Jordan was the main villain in the Black Panther (2018) movie. He portrayed Killmonger, a man who seeks revenge for his parents who were killed when he was young. Because of that, he leaves Wakanda and grows up outside his native country to later return and bring justice to his parents.
When the actor found out the story of his character, he thought Killmonger must have felt very lonely having to live a life holding a secret that he originated from a country no one knew existed. Michael B. Jordan decided he had to be by himself to understand that feeling. He completely isolated himself from people, but that actually took a toll on his mental health and it was hard to get back to himself after the filming finished and he needed to see a therapist to help him out.”
#15 Daniel Day-Lewis Spent His Time In A Wheelchair And Asked To Be Spoonfed On The Set Of My Left Foot
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“Daniel Day-Lewis is the star of the 1989 biographical comedy-drama My Left Foot and embodied the main character, Christy Brown, who was an Irish writer with cerebral palsy who could use only his left foot so he had to teach himself to write and draw with it.
To make the portrayal more convincing, the actor went into character as soon as he reached the shooting set. He asked to be wheeled around the set in his wheelchair, and he wanted to be spoonfed as well as lifted by the staff members. This dedication required some sacrifices: Daniel Day-Lewis damaged two ribs during filming from hunching in his wheelchair for the long weeks that the shooting continued. The actor also learnt to paint using a knife held between his toes. These efforts really paid off as he won an Oscar for Best Actor.”
#16 Sylvester Stallone Went To The Hospital After Asking His Co-Star To Actually Hit Him
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“Sylvester Stallone’s name is synonymous with Rocky’s as the franchise was very popular, grossing more than $1.7 billion at the worldwide box office. Part of its success can definitely be attributed to the actor’s dedication to the character. He followed a very strict diet and exercising regime to maintain the fictional boxer’s physique and one time, his striving to be as realistic as possible landed him in the hospital.
While filming Rocky IV, Stallone encouraged his co-star, Dolph Lundgren, to actually punch him with all his might. The actor explained that Lundgren’s uppercut “caught the ribs and hit the heart against the ribcage.” To recover from that, Stallone stayed at the hospital for nine days and didn’t continue to receive real punches.”
#17 Mickey Rourke Studied Russian For 3 Hours Every Day
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“Mickey Rourke was chosen for the role of Iron Man’s enemy Whiplash in the second movie of the series. The character was a Russian scientist and a former prisoner, so the actor did a lot of preparing for the role, even though he didn’t really get along with Marvel and they didn’t consider his suggestions about how he would like to portray Whiplash.
He went to a Russian prison to see what it looked and felt like. He also was very interested in the inmates’ tattoos. On top of that, he was studying the Russian language every day for three hours. He trained not only his mind but also his body to achieve the menacing strong villain look.”
#18 Hilary Swank Endured Hours Of Training Which Lead To A Dangerous Infection
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“Hilary Swank portrayed Mary Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald, an aspiring boxer in the 2004 sports drama Million Dollar Baby. To be convincing in that role, the producers asked Hilary to gain 10 pounds of muscle mass, but she gained 19 instead.
To obtain the physique of a boxer, she trained six times a week, dedicating two and a half hours to boxing and an hour and a half to two hours to lifting weights. On top of that, she was strictly following what she ate as to gain muscle she had to maintain a high protein intake.
But the training led to the actress getting blisters and she was popping them in the bathtub, which resulted in an infection that almost reached her heart, which would have been detrimental.”
#19 Leonardo DiCaprio Ate Real Raw Bison Meat
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“Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar after being nominated for it several times previously for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in the 2015 movie The Revenant, which was based on a real story of a man getting attacked by a bear and then left by his friends because they thought he was dead.
For this role, the actor, who is a vegetarian and an environmentalist, was ready to go as far as needed. He slept in a dead animal’s carcass and he volunteered to eat raw bison meat. The team actually prepared a faux bison liver from jelly, but the actor feared that it wouldn’t be authentic enough and the people in charge figured out all the technicalities so that they could have real meat. The part in the movie when DiCaprio eats the raw bison liver is the first take and the actor’s genuine reaction to trying to eat it.”
#20 Choi Min-Sik Burnt Himself With Hot Wire Because He Didn’t Think Makeup Was Realistic Enough
Image source: May S. Young
“South Korean actor Choi Min-sik who played the protagonist Dae-su in the thriller film Oldboy wasn’t afraid to try anything to portray his character convincingly. He lost and gained weight depending on the filming schedule. He also trained for his role and was able to do most of the stunts by himself.
One of the most extreme things he did was burning himself with a hot wire because he didn’t trust makeup artists to make the burns look real enough.
Another thing that not everyone would be brave enough to do is eat a live octopus, let alone four. That is how many Choi Min-sik ate, because he had to do four takes of the scene. This is real dedication, as the actor is vegetarian and a Buddhist, so he apologized and said prayers for each of the octopuses before eating them.”