The Method' has been encouraging actors to behave bizarrely since the full-immersion style of acting was first devised by Russian theatre director Constantin Stanislavski in the early 30s. It was later refined by legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg, who included the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman andDennis Hopper among his students. Recently, rapper-turned-actor Ne-Yo said he found working with Aaron Eckhart on alien flick 'Battle: Los Angeles' frustrating. "I didn't understand the concept of staying in character the whole time," he said. "We almost got in a little tussle just behind me not understanding that he's still in character." He should think himself lucky. Staying in character is the very least he might have expected from other famous 'method actors'...
Forest Whitaker Whitaker studied eastern religions and meditated frequently for his role in 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai', and locked himself in an apartment to learn the saxophone in order to play jazz legend Charlie Parker in 'Bird'. But for his role as dictator Idi Amin in 'The Last King of Scotland', he went the extra mile, gaining 50lbs, studying Amin's speeches intently, living with some of Amin's relatives and families of his victims in Uganda, learning to speak fluent Swahili and mastering the accordion. Skills.
Daniel Day-Lewis Arguably one of the greatest living actors, Daniel Day-Lewis takes his craft rather seriously. He broke two ribs through being constantly doubled-up playing cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown in 'My Left Foot'. Rumour has it he remained in character throughout filming, insisting even on being fed by other cast members during meals. He took on a butchery apprenticeship to play Bill the Butcher in 'Gangs of New York' and sharpened knives during breaks in filming. Meanwhile, for his role as grizzled oil man Daniel Plainview in 'There Will Be Blood', he reportedly refused to talk to other cast members off-set, and lived in a tent in a deserted oilfield while filming. It won him the Best Actor Oscar.
Robert De Niro De Niro's crowning 'method' performance was playing Jake LaMotta in 'Raging Bull', a role for which he gained 60lbs and trained as a boxer. He was reputed to have been in the top 10 middleweights in the world while filming. To play the unhinged Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle in Scorcese's 'Taxi Driver', he did 12-hour shifts as a cab driver for three months, and had his teeth ground down by a dentist to play Max Cady in 'Cape Fear' at a cost of $5000. It cost him $20,000 to repair them again afterwards.
Christian Bale In recent years, Christian Bale has become one of the most high profile actors to employ method acting, thanks to a rather visible penchant for losing and gaining weight. He became skeletally thin to play both insomniac Trevor Reznik in 'The Machinist', and recently crack-addicted boxing trainer Dicky Eklund in 'The Fighter', for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He even called out a journalist who suggested his yoyo-ing weight was a gimmick. "I'd just like to p*** on that guy's shoes," he said. "It's not easy, it's not fun - it's horrible. I would never pick to do that, but it's a part that I like and he's a welterweight and he's a crackhead." Meanwhile, he bulked up hugely to play maniac broker Patrick Bateman in 'American Psycho' and for his role as Batman, during the press junkets for which he spoke only in an American accent.
Nicolas Cage Cage ate a real cockroach for his role in 1998 flick 'Vampire's Kiss', despite the fact that his director only asked him to down a raw egg. "Every muscle in my body didn't want to do it, but I did it anyway," he is reported to have said. The shot, however, took three takes, and he ended up having to eat three cockroaches in all. Meanwhile for his part in 'Birdy', he had two teeth surgically removed. He also sat in a box for hours on end to prepare his eyes for darkness in Oliver Stone's 'World Trade Center'.
Min-sik Choi Min-sik Choi did the unthinkable in Korean thriller 'Old Boy', during a scene which required him to eat a live octopus. Not only did he do so, he nailed four of them as the scene needed multiple takes. The film's director thanked the octopi specifically when the film won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.
Dustin Hoffman Hoffman studied with Strasberg, so 'the method' was part of his make-up, never more so than during 'Marathon Man'. One oft reported anecdote tells how Hoffman decided to stay up all night before a pivotal scene to help him seem more believably exhausted. When he explained this to his co-star, veteran thespian Laurence Olivier, Olivier is said to have replied in jest: “Why not try acting, dear boy?”