10 FAMOUS ACTORS Who Took Their Roles WAY TOO SERIOUSLY
Acting is an art, one that people approach in a variety of ways. Where some actors and actresses find themselves falling effortlessly into their roles, others are drawn deep into the part, to the point where they take method acting a little too far. These 10 Hollywood favorites are at the top of those that took their roles a little too seriously, potentially risking life, limb, and sanity to perfect the part.
Christian Bale (The Machinist)
You may have seen a picture or two of Christian Bale's shocking appearance in The Machinist and may have chalked it up as great CGI. The reality of it is that that was all Bale, weighing a dangerous 121 pounds or about 55 kilograms for the 2004 role of insomniac Trevor Reznik. To achieve the emaciated look, Bale survived on a diet of an apple and a cup of coffee per day, chased by water and the occasional whiskey. Fearing that he'd ruin his progress and actually put on weight from indulging, Bale cut out his social life entirely. At one point, Bale had asked co-star Michael Ironside to take a look at the muscles of his rear which, as Ironside described, had "dropped out of the sockets of [Bale's] hips." Working with a nutritionist during his weight loss, the actor was advised as to where to stop but continued and lost an additional 20 lbs.
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Many have incorrectly attributed The Dark Knight's Joker role as the downfall of Heath Ledger, mostly because the actor's methods of perfecting the infamous comic book villain would drive most people mad. Locking himself in a hotel room for a month, the actor practiced perfecting the Joker's unsettling laugh and unique mannerisms for hours and was privy to sleeping for only two hours each day. To really get into the Joker's psyche, a rather dangerous place to find oneself, Ledger kept a diary fit for the Clown Prince of Crime. Pages of images including shots from Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Joker cards, clippings of the Joker's comic book presence, and photographs of smiling clowns decorated the interior of the diary along with scrawled out bits of dialogue pulled right from the movie. There's no rhyme or reason to the diary's layout, giving it that haunting insanity trademark of the Joker.
Denzel Washington (Safe House)
There are actors that can barely muster up the will to give their character any life and there are those that go to the extremes to guarantee they're giving the audience their finest performance in every film. You can probably guess which end of the spectrum Denzel Washington falls on, but in case there is any question, let's talk about what the highly regarded Oscar-winning actor did on the set of Safe House. Playing ex-CIA-operative-turned-traitor Tobin Frost, Washington's character is subjected to torture. To really immerse himself into the scene, Washington requested to be subjected to the same exact torture. In an interview with New York magazine, the actor simply stated that he "wanted to see what it would be like," while his co-star, Ryan Reynolds, described watching it as "intense" and "disturbing."
Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot)
Daniel Day-Lewis is synonymous with method acting, which is likely how he earned his 3 Oscar wins for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln. Daniel's first Oscar was given to him for his portrayal of real-life cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown who could only move his left foot. Prior to the film's production, the methodical actor prepared for his role by spending 8 weeks at a clinic in Dublin, living alongside children with cerebral palsy. He also taught himself how to draw with his left foot. Once on set, even when the cameras weren't rolling, Daniel never slipped out of character. Every actor was referred to by their character's name and he would only respond to being called "Christy". The dedicated actor remained seated in a wheelchair and needed to be pushed around set. His persistence to remain in character left him in a continued hunched state, which left him with two broken ribs and infuriated his agent so much that he left mid-filming.
Joaquin Phoenix (I'm Still Here)
For a period of time starting in 2008, it looked as if Joaquin Phoenix had literally lost his mind. His mannerisms had changed entirely and the rather popular actor was allegedly starting to pursue a musical career, specifically one focused on rapping. Phoenix even took to David Letterman, where he attempted to showcase his new rapping skills amidst an incredibly awkward interview. To the world, River Phoenix's younger brother had snapped. To Casey Affleck, who had been following Phoenix around, allegedly documenting his career change, the talented actor was simply trying to sell what was really I'm Still Here, a mockumentary that released in 2010. All of the eccentric behavior over the course of two years was nothing more than Phoenix bringing this alternate version of himself, the star of I'm Still Here, into the public eye. His performance was so incredibly convincing that even after viewing the mockumentary, some potential distributors still couldn't discern if it was fake.
Val Kilmer (The Doors)
Preparing yourself to portray an individual that lived an incredibly documented life is no easy feat. You have to appease fans of said individual while remaining true to characteristics that their closest friends could pinpoint as authentic or not. To prep for his role as The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, Val Kilmer immersed himself into the late singer, surrounding himself by people that knew Morrison the best, such as former The Doors producer, Paul Rothchild. Kilmer would obsessively ask Rothchild what "Jim would do in certain situations", often times having no relevance to the movie - like "How many fart bubbles do you think Jim created when he died?" (citation needed on that one). Where it gets weird is when Kilmer rehearsed and learned 50 of Morrison's songs - while only 15 were used in the film - dropping lots of weight to look more like Morrison, and wanted to be referred to as "Jim" during the production of the film. To top it all off, Kilmer could mimic the voice of Morrison so well, that the actual band members from The Doors couldn't tell the two apart.
Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Series)
For the film series that launched Sylvester Stalone's career, it's not surprising that the up-and-coming actor would give the movies his all. To keep in shape across the series, Stallone dedicated himself to a strict and vigorous workout routine which included spending 6 days a week at the gym. For Rocky IV, Stallone doubled his daily workouts, matching the preparation a Mr. Olympia competitor would go through. As if his physical exertion off camera wasn't enough to prepare him, Stallone was also sure to take real hits from his opponents in the ring to amp up the realism of the choreographed fights. In Rocky, Stallone walked away from his time in the ring with Carl Weathers with bruised ribs, and during his bout with Dolph Lundgren's Drago in Rocky IV, took a punch to the chest from the Russian powerhouse that nearly killed him.
Jim Carrey (The Man on the Moon)
Portraying the elusive and peculiar Andy Kaufman seemed like the dream role for funny-man Jim Carrey, which may be why he took prepping and acting the part so seriously. The real life of Kaufman was filled with many feuds, but his most infamous was with WWE wrestler Jerry Lawler. Lawler was brought on to the film to reenact the wrestling match and famous David Letterman interview with him and Kaufman, but got far more than he expected. Wanting to be as authentic as possible, Carrey refused to answer to anything but "Andy" during filming and demanded to experience the same piledriver Kaufman had. The problem was nobody but Carrey was up for it - even the insurance company refused. When shooting for the scene wrapped, Lawler described Carrey as "freakin' furious" as the actor addressed the crowd, screaming about his desire to take a piledriver. Carrey took things so far that he eventually got in the wrestler's face and spat on him.
Adrien Brody (The Pianist)
The incredible true story of Polish-Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman rightfully earned Adrien Brody the Oscar for Best Actor in 2003. As heartbreakingly perfect as Brody's performance was, it wasn't achieved just by the actor's talents alone, but also through dedication to the role. To prepare for his realistic performance, Brody learned to match the keystrokes of the movie's piano score to make it look like he was playing. In parts of the movie, the renditions of Frederic Chopin being heard actually were Brody's own performances. On top of a rigid piano regimen, the actor lost 30 pounds or about 13 kilograms to accurately portray Szpilman towards the film's finale and drove himself into seclusion by leaving his apartment in New York, selling his car, and turning off his cell phone.
Shia Labeouf (Fury)
After setting himself up as some deranged art exhibitor where people could just sit in a room with him and do pretty much whatever they wanted, it was clear that Shia Labeouf was… well… full of Shia surprises! Some of those surprises came on the set of the 2014 war film, Fury. To perfect his role as the religious Boyd "Bible" Swan of the Fury crew, Labeouf admitted to cutting his face, was baptized, became a chaplain's assistant, lived on a forward operating base for a month, pulled out his own tooth, didn't bathe for 4 months, and, according to the actor himself, spent days "watching horses die."