Method acting isn’t a new technique, butthe idea of living the life of a character in order to give an honest performance hasonly gotten more popular in the last few decades.
Some actors can take the technique a bit toofar, however, pushing the limits of both themselves and those around them.
Here are Screen Rant’s10 Actors Who Almost Went Crazy in Their Roles.
Heath LedgerFew actors have immersed themselves in a role quite like Ledger did when he was tapped toplay Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, back in 2006.
The actor locked himself away ina London hotel room for a month, keeping a diary and experimenting with various voicesand mannerisms until he’d come up with his ideal vision of the character.
The resultwas one of the greatest villainous performances of all time, one that earned him a Best SupportingActor Oscar in 2009.
Tragically, Ledger never got to see his work on the big screen, dyingof an accidental prescription drug overdose the year prior.
Rumors that the role drovehim to suicide or that he couldn’t leave the part behind are probably exaggerating, but his last role will always have movie fans talking.
Robert De NiroDe Niro’s well-known for paying a dentist several thousands of dollars to grind histeeth down in order to pull off the look of the psychotic Max Cady (Kay-dee), but he tookthe role much further than that.
The tattoos that the two-time Academy Award winner sportsin the film were made with vegetable dyes, which take months to fade, and he’d spenta similar amount of time reading up on and studying the behavior of sex offenders.
DeNiro’s performance reportedly creeped out Martin Scorsese as much as it did moviegoers, and the actor would jokingly leave voice messages as Cady on his director’s machine just tofreak him out.
Maybe he wasn’t quite as deranged as he seemed.
Nicolas CageCage has made a career out of playing outlandish, over-the-top characters.
From Vampire’sKiss to Ghost Rider, Cage has never shied away from his unofficial title as the craziestactor in Hollywood.
For his role as a disfigured Vietnam veteran in the 1984 drama, Birdy, Cage had four of his teeth pulled just to add an extra dimension to the part.
He thenshocked the film’s crew by wearing his character’s facial bandages (on and off set) for fiveweeks straight.
Whether you choose to acknowledge his insane talent or if you’ve simply dismissedhim as a loon, there’s no denying Cage’s place as one of the most fearlessly dedicatedthespians in the industry.
Joaquin PhoenixBack in 2008, when this two-time Academy Award nominee announced that he was quitting actingto pursue a career as a hip-hop artist, most assumed it was a hoax.
After roughly a yearand a half of bizarre behavior and public appearances resulted in this 2010 mockumentary, which was later confirmed to be a hoax.
After the film received a decidedly mixed criticalreaction, Phoenix took a break from the acting game.
He’s since returned from his self-imposedhiatus to earn a third Academy Award nomination for his phenomenal work in The Master, soit’s safe to say he’s now firmly back on track.
Kate WinsletOne of the most extraordinary talents working today, Winslet holds the distinction as theyoungest actor or actress in history to be nominated for six Academy Awards.
Her first(and only) win came for her role as a former Nazi concentration camp guard in this 2008drama, a performance that apparently took a significant toll on the actress.
She’ssaid that it took months for her to fully break free of the part, equating leaving thecharacter behind to escaping a serious car accident.
Thankfully, Winslet has seeminglymoved on in the years since, and she continues to be one of the top actresses in Hollywood.
Adrien BrodyThe 6’5 Brody slimmed all the way down to 130 pounds to pull off the emaciated lookof a Holocaust survivor in Roman Polanski’s historical drama.
He’s since said that thegenuine desperation that comes from starvation was something he couldn’t fake, and at timeshe found himself wondering if he was going to be able to escape the role with his sanity.
It reportedly took the actor over a year and a half to settle back into his normal life.
Considering that the role resulted in Brody becoming the youngest actor to ever notcha Best Actor Oscar win, we’d say it was worth it.
Jamie DornanBefore Dornan gained worldwide fame for his leading role in the 50 Shades of Grey adaptation, he was starring as the “Belfast Strangler” in this BBC series opposite X-Files star GillianAnderson.
In order to help get himself in the mindset of a serial killer, the 33 yearold actor confessed to following a woman off the train and pursuing her (from a distance)for several blocks.
He probably should have kept that information to himself.
Shia LaBeoufLaBeouf’s made every effort to move on to more serious roles since his days of pallingaround with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in the Transformers franchise.
He’s becomea very serious method actor, known for going to various extremes for his movies, and hissupporting role in David Ayer’s WWII film was no different.
He told an interviewer thathe pulled his own tooth and slashed his own face with a knife for a more realistic lookbefore revealing that he hadn’t bathed in months and that he’d “spent days watchinghorses die.
” Even for LaBeouf, that’s pretty out there.
Jared LetoThe Clown Prince of Crime is not a role that can be taken lightly, and Leto may have takenhis preparation for the part even further than Ledger did.
The 43 year old’s decisionto stay in character in between takes isn’t all that out of the ordinary, but his gift-givinghabits certainly were.
He sent his fellow cast members a series of bizarre presents, including a box of bullets for co-star Will Smith and a live rat for Margot Robbie.
Heeven sent the entire cast a video of him in character alongside a dead pig.
Apparentlymethod gift-giving is a thing nowadays.
Daniel Day-LewisOf all the method actors working today, Daniel Day-Lewis may be the name most associatedwith the technique; no one embodies a character quite like him.
From his work in My Left Foot(a film in which he broke two of his ribs because he refused to cease his character’shunched-over posture) to the six months he spent alone in the wilderness preparing forThe Last of the Mohicans, Day-Lewis dedicates his entire life to every role he takes on.
But his three Academy Awards paint a very clear picture; he’s clearly doing somethingright.
What’s your favorite example of an actorpushing himself to the limit? Is method acting the only true way to embody a character? Letyour voice be heard in the comments section, and be sure to subscribe to our channel formore videos like this one.