Actors who went to the extreme to prepare for a role

To truly understand her character Vivian in ‘Jungle Fever’, Halle Berry visited a crack house, and stopped taking care of herself, including not showering for two weeks. Still not sure why she gets applauded for it, but if I don’t shower for a week I’m apparently “disgusting”.

To prepare for ‘The Pianist’, Adrien Brody famously decided to ‘lose everything’ in order to better understand his character. He stripped his life of everything by selling his apartment and his beloved car, to the point where he had left for filming with nothing but the contents of two suitcases.

For ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, the cast would sleep overnight in the hospital where they were filming and were even paired with actual patients so they could shadow their day-to-day lives in the mental hospital.

To prepare for his role as Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, Tom Holland did something truly horrifying: he went back to high school. He enrolled in a HS in the Bronx saying “No one knew who I was or what I was doing. I had a fake name and a fake accent.”

In an interview with Howard Stern, Bryan Cranston revealed that he and Aaron Paul were actually taught how to cook meth for ‘Breaking Bad’. They were taught by DEA chemists that were consultants throughout the show.

For her role in ‘I, Tonya’, Margot Robbie spent four hours a day, five days a week, learning how to ice skate. She told The Hollywood Reporter, “We were just a few weeks from shooting, and I was still struggling to find my outside edges. I just thought I was never going to get them, and then, one day, it just clicked.”

Probably the greatest method actor of all time is Daniel Day Lewis. In his famous role as John Proctor in ‘The Crucible’, he “stayed on a Massachusetts island in the film set’s replica village – without electricity or running water – planted fields with 17th-century tools, and built his character’s house.”

For her role in ‘Black Swan’, Natalie Portman actually trained with the former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers for up to eight hours a day, six days a week, for over a year. In addition to her ballet classes, Bowers had Portman exercise through cross-training, swimming, and endurance training.

In preparation for his role as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, Heath Ledger famously took things to the extreme. He locked himself in a hotel room for an entire month, where he wrote a disturbing diary and experimented with voices.

After she was cast as Eleven in ‘Stranger Things’, Millie Bobby Brown actually shaved her head for the role. She wrote “I realized that now; I have a job to do and that is to inspire other girls that your image or exterior part is not what I think is important.”

Rooney Mara was determined to live up to fans’ expectations of Lisbeth Salander in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’. So, she pierced her face and nipples (12 piercings total), bleached her eyebrows, chopped off her hair, and lost substantial weight. She also learned martial arts, how to ride a motorcycle, and truly perfected her Swedish accent.

Many method actors lose or gain weight for a role, but one of the most memorable has to be Christian Bale’s appearance in ‘The Machinist’. He famously lost 62 lbs for the role, weighing only 120 lbs during filming. He wanted to go even further down to 99 lbs, but the filmmakers wouldn’t allow it due to the health risks.

For the film ‘Blue Valentine’, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, and Faith Wladyka actually lived as a family in the characters’ house for a month. Gosling told NPR, “We also celebrated fake Christmas, baked birthday cakes, and bought birthday presents…We did whatever we could do to create real memories, so when it came time to shoot the last part of the film, we were drawing on real memories”.

To prepare for ‘Silence of the Lambs’, Jodie Foster actually trained at Quantico and even worked closely with the serial killer division of the FBI. She said the one thing she learned there was that “You can’t rely on the MOs (Methods of Operation) when investigating serial killers… Killers have been known to travel 3,000 miles to kill somebody and then travel 3,000 miles back. There are no clues. Makes no sense.”

After receiving the role of Boyd “Bible” Swan in ‘Fury’, Shia LaBeouf truly committed to the role. He revealed in an interview that “the day after I got the job, I joined the US National Guard. I was baptized, and became 
a chaplain’s assistant to Captain Yates for the 41st Infantry. I spent a month living on a forward operating base.”

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