Method actors are the ones standing at the top of the film industry. They are the masters of the trade. But sometimes they overdo it.
Probably the greatest method actor of all time, Daniel Day-Lewis perfected the technique. he is a pioneer, standing at the very pinnacle of acting. The legendary actor is now retired because acting literally took a huge toll on his body. For instance, his method acting resulted in him catching pneumonia while filming Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York. He refused to wear an insulated coat in the 19th century because it was out of character for Bill The Butcher.
Robert De Niro
For his role in Heat, De Niro reportedly practiced with live firearms and body dummies made out of jelly to simulate the effect of flesh. For Taxi Driver, the actor took actual 12 hour cabby shifts in the city. Raging Bull saw the actor descend into the ring and take part in three rounds. Th actor is trained in the Stanislavksi method by Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler.
Hanks stayed in character throughout the shooting of the movie Castaway. He refused to take a bathe or cut his hair, leading to a nasty staph infection. While he was giving a tour of the prison set to Stephen King, the author of the book Green Mile, King tried sitting on the fake electric chair. Hanks asked him not to because he cannot let his subordinates see him let civilians goof around with lethal machinery. He managed to spook even Stephen king with his method acting.
Everyone knows how this Australian actor literally embraced death because he took his role so seriously in The Dark Knight. But Ledger was a method actor in other movies too. In Brokeback Mountain, co-star Anne Hathaway claims Ledger was supposed to turn back and cry into a wall in one scene. He just turned back and punched the brick wall with full force, giving him multiple sprains and hairline fractures.
In The Revenant, DiCaprio ate raw bison meat and slept in an animal carcass in a harsh, frozen climate. In Django Unchained, he played Calvin Candie. One scene saw him smash the table so hard his hand literally broke glass. He was bleeding and the blood splatter even reached co-star Kerry Washington. He powered through and after the scene ended, he received a standing ovation.
He once forced a truck driver to pull over and threatened him with arrest over exhaust pollution as the incorruptible NYPD officer Frank Serpico. In The Scent Of A Woman, he would regularly trip over bushed he didn’t ‘see’. After filming ended, he sent a letter to his co-star Chris O’Donnell, which read: “Although I didn’t see you, I know you were great.”
For her breakout role in Boys Don’t Cry, Swank cut her hair and bound her breasts in a attempt to look more like a man. Her neighbors were convinced that swank was actually a brother or a cousin. For Million Dollar Baby, Swank went to the gym 6 days a week non stop for three months. Eastwood was worried when she didn’t register a blister under her foot. There was a staph infection merely hours away from her heart because of her training.
The actor’s career is littered with so many strange and weird instances. For his role in Birdy, Cage made the film-maker rip out four of his teeth without anesthesia. The 80’s dark comedy Vampire’s Kiss was where Cage ate two live cockroaches when he played a New York book agent who believes he has turned into a vampire. The director wanted the cockroaches to be fake but Cage insisted they be real.
For The Pianist, Brody was so committed to playing the titular character that he gave up his phone, sold his house and car, and broke up with his girlfriend. All for the sake of portraying Wladyslaw Szpilman, the man who lost everything.
He won his first Academy award for his role in Ray. For this role, he intentionally glued his eyes shut for more than 14 hours a day to capture the essence of a blind musician. He practiced music when blind and lost 30 pounds to look like Charles’ body after his heroin addiction. He even made his dentist file his teeth so that it looked more like the character he was playing.
Min-Sik is a huge name in the rest of the world, if not Hollywood. The actor shot to fame after starring in Oldboy, an acclaimed psychological thriller. Min-Sik reportedly used a hot wire to burn his flesh for every year his character spent in captivity. He even ate a live octopus in one take. You can find the video on YouTube.