When an actor takes on a role and completely dedicates themselves to their character, it is called method acting. However, some actors don’t know when to turn off their character, and bring it into their personal lives. So much so, it makes them go a little crazy.
Ashton Kutcher – Jobs
When the film Jobs went into production, Ashton Kutcher was the chosen actor for the role of the Apple creator, Steve Jobs. To get into his role, the That ’70s Show actor went on a complete fruit diet, just like the man he was playing had in real-life. However, this proved to be severely unhealthy for Kutcher, who ended up in the hospital two days before filming began. He was admitted to the hospital for severe vitamin deficiencies and reduction in bone density.
Jamie Foxx – Ray
When Jamie Foxx was cast to play the lead role in the film Ray, he wanted to make Ray Charles proud. The role was a huge deal for him, and Foxx wanted to represent the blind community accurately. The actor wore prosthetic eyelids for 14 hours a day and stayed in character on set meaning people had to help guide him. He managed to achieve what he set out to do and his dedication paid off since he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Margot Robbie took on the role of disgraced professional ice skater, Tonya Harding, for the film, I, Tonya, and it was not just make-up and prosthetics that made her fit for the role. The Australian actress took her role seriously by training for five months, five days a week, four hours a day to perfect her ice skating on the ice rink. This still was not enough to get the coveted triple axel, which is understandable, but it did win Academy Awards.
Robert Pattinson – Good Time
He won international fame after his role in the Twilight series but, somehow, Robert Pattinson managed to go unnoticed when he started working at a car wash and taking the New York City subway to prepare for his critically acclaimed role in Good Time, playing a thief. He “literally lived in the same basement apartment [as the character] in Harlem. I never opened my curtains, didn’t change the sheets the entire time I was there, for those two months, and I would just sleep in my clothes.
John Krasinski – 13 Hours
For the film 13 Hours, based on the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, John Krasinski was transformed into a cut special ops soldier. Speaking about how he and the cast had to go through vigorous training from former Navy SEALS, the The Office actor told Yahoo! News, “We learned how to fire a whole variety of different weapons and learned how to maneuver through rooms with lights, without lights. We learned how to maneuver through buildings on fire… Physically, it was an extremely intense workout.”
Chris Hemsworth – In the Heart of the Sea
For his role in Ron Howard’s whaling epic, In the Heart of the Sea, Chris Hemsworth went on a 500-calorie-a-day diet, which completely changed his appearance. Those who have seen Hemsworth would know he is usually in great shape, so this role took its toll on the Australian actor. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he said, “We kind of went insane, weighing ourselves every day. We all felt like a bunch of supermodels, trying to get down in weight for a show or something.”
Charlize Theron – Monster
Charlize Theron played the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 film, Monster, and she certainly had to go to extreme measures to get this role just right. In fact, Theron had such a complete transformation for the part that she was unrecognizable on screen. She had her skin layered with tattoo ink, wore dentures, had her hair thinned and fried repeatedly, and shaved her eyebrows. The South African beauty was worlds away from her usual self, but she was playing a real monster after all.
Demi Moore – GI Jane
Demi Moore, known for her long, brunette locks, shaved off her hair for the role of Jordon O’Neil in GI Jane and took part in grueling training for the role, led by former Navy SEALS. “I could have come in and asked to let the stuntwoman do the obstacle course,” Moore explained. “But I felt I would have walked away having missed an opportunity experiencing, first-hand, what these people actually go through in training; it’s the whole reason for doing this film in the first place.”
Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
For her breakthrough role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara spent two days with David Fincher and makeup artist, Pat McGrath, coming up with 26 looks for her part of Lisbeth Salander. As well as her chipped-up, dyed black hair, Mara had her eyebrows bleached and got all of her character’s piercings, including a nipple piercing. Speaking of her choices to get the tattoos, and this piercing, in particular, Mara said, “It just felt like a good one to get—a necessary one to get.”
Val Kilmer – The Doors
When Val Kilmer was cast to play Jim Morrison from The Doors in the film adaptation, he wanted to make sure his performance was the best it could possibly be. To make it authentic, he took the time to learn some of Morrison’s songs which would make sense. However, he then he went overboard in trying to learn a staggering 50 of his songs when only 15 made it to the film. By the end, he had everyone on set calling him “Jim.”
Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
Jared Leto was chosen to follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger for playing the Joker, so expectations were high. Similarly to Ledger, Leto prepared himself for the crazy role and sent his Suicide Quad co-stars weird gifts. He sent Margot Robbie creepy love letters and a dead rat and sent Will Smith bullets. His preparation for the character has gotten so out of hand that the producers hired on-screen therapists to take care of the cast’s sanity during the shoot.
Jamie Dornan – The Fall
Before becoming Mr. Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan played the role of a serial killer in the TV show, The Fall. To get into character, Dornan admitted that he followed a woman off the train and sneaked behind her for several blocks afterward. This was his way of learning how it felt to prey on someone, and said, “It felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way. I’m sort of not proud of myself.” We won’t even begin to wonder how he prepared for 50 Shades of Grey.
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
When the late Heath Ledger started filming for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight, he scared everyone on set, so much that Michael Caine forgot his lines. Ledger had shut himself in a hotel room for more than a month, meeting no one during this time, and scribbling crazy stuff his character would find funny. Moreover, he starved himself and went into depression, which resulted in him having to take prescription pills. Unfortunately, the mix of insomnia, depression and prescription pills led to his untimely death.
Mathew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Mathew McConaughey lost 47lbs to play the role of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. It took a while for the actor to recover from his role of an individual afflicted with AIDS who tries to get medication for those suffering from the disease. Speaking about his drastic weight loss, the actor said, “As soon as I hit 143lb [10 stone 3lb], I started losing my eyesight. I would do five push-ups and be sore. I would run 30 feet and my legs would lock up.”
Hilary Swank – Boys, Don’t Cry
When she was cast to play Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, Hilary Swank was really going for that Oscar. She lived, breathed and slept Teena by essentially living as the character; she wrapped bandages around her breasts, wore prosthetic genitalia, only answered to a male’s name for the entire month, and cut her hair. Since she was telling a real0life story with her character, Swank wanted to make it as accurate as possible.It paid off since she won an Academy Award.
Kate Winslet – The Reader
Kate Winslet may have won her first and only Academy Award in 2008 for her role as a former Nazi concentration camp guard in the film, The Reader, but the actress said the role took its toll on her. The actress admitted that it took months for her to fully break free from the part and leave the character behind to which she compared would feel like escaping a serious car accident. Nevertheless, Winslet proved once again why she is one of Hollywood’s most recognized actress’s.
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
The Devil Wears Prada actress, Anne Hathaway, was a far cry away from her fashion assistant role when she was cast to star in Les Miserables. While she put on a stellar performance for the movie, she became obsessed with her role. She shaved her hair for the character of Fantine and dropped 10 kilos after eating nothing but oatmeal paste for weeks. Since Fantine went through a lot of hardships, Hathaway admitted that she was physically and psychologically deprived when taking on the character.
Adrien Brody – The Pianist
For his role in The Pianist, Adrien Brody dedicated his life to perfecting his performance and went through hell to prepare. As well as losing 12 kilos for the role, he gave up his cell phone, his car, and his apartment, by selling each of them. He also broke up with his long-term girlfriend, which may explain why his crying scenes looked like he lost everything in the world. However, at 29-years-old, Adrien Brody became the youngest actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for this role.
Michelle Williams – Marilyn
Michelle Williams was given the lucrative role of playing glamour model, Marilyn Monroe, in the film Marilyn. To perfect her role, and do the role justice, Williams tied a belt around her legs in order to match the famous walk of Monroe’s. After spending weeks studying up on how to become Marilyn as best she could, Williams admitted that she didn’t know if it was her in her head or if the feeling of being Monroe had taken over.
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Natalie Portman does not like to be known as a method actor, but when it came to the Black Swan, she pushed herself to limits she had never done for other films. She lost 20 pounds from her already slim frame and, although she has a body double for her dance routines, she went through a rigorous dance program so she could do some of the scenes herself. On her role, Portman said she was not channeling any past experiences in her life but just doing her job of acting.
Shia LaBeouf – Fury
Shia LaBeouf wanted to keep it as real as possible when shooting Fury, so cut himself up and kept the wound open for the whole time the movie was being shot. The cut on his right cheek was done by Labouef himself, and he followed this by pulling one of his teeth out. Just to add to this craziness, he also did not bathe for 30 days straight. The crew could not handle the smell, so they arranged a separate room for Shia to go to after shoots.
Robert De Niro – Taxi Driver and Raging Bull
Robert De Niro is a critically acclaimed actor, so it’s no wonder he wants to give it his all for every role. So much so, that for two of his films, he used method acting to perfect his characters. For Taxi Driver, De Niro got a fake and illegal license to drive people around in New York City at night. For the movie Raging Bull, and his character Jake LaMotta, he practiced boxing so viciously with the real-life LaMotta and broke the boxer’s ribs and teeth while sparring.
Johnny Depp – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Johnny Depp took on the role of the crazy Hinter Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson would store gunpowder and Nitroglycerine in his basement, and Depp would sleep on a bed right next to these containers of explosives at Thompson’s place, which was extremely dangerous. He also took hard illicit substances while he was there and even turned up to the audition for the role in Thompson’s personal clothes that had not been washed for thirty years. Apparently, the casting directors liked that.
Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here
When Joaquin Phoenix took on the role of Freddie Quell in I’m Still Here, the actor led many to believe that he had given up acting to pursue a career as a pop star. Playing the part in a film of a completely disheveled actor who went completely out of control, it seems Phoenix did the same. The actor took his character out into the public, and he even made an appearance on David Letterman in the role of his character, which completely confused the talk show host.
Nicolas Cage – Ghost Rider
Nicolas Cage scared his co-stars on the film Ghost Rider when he got into his character of Johnny Blaze. While he has since claimed he isn’t even a fan of the film franchise, he certainly went all out to get into his character for the movie. He used makeup on his face to look like a corpse, and he carried Egyptian symbols with him to invoke ghosts and spirits. He also refused to speak to any of his co-stars in between scenes, which was why they were scared of him.
Daniel Day Lewis – My Left Food
Daniel Day Lewis has become one the best actors to ever live, and that is because he knows how to pull off a character. However, when he portrayed a handicapped hunched person in My Left Foot, he remained hunched for the duration the film was in production. He remained hunched even when he was done shooting his and ended up with two broken ribs. Since he refused to come out of character, the crew had to literally spoon feed him between takes as he acted as a disabled person.
Christian Bale – The Machinist
Christian Bale is known for going a little too far when it comes to getting into character, but he outdid himself when it came to his performance in The Machinist. Playing insomniac-hallucinating machinist Trevor, Bale lost around 60 pounds for the role. He was completely famished and did not sleep for two weeks straight to become Trevor, nor speak to the outside world for two months. Rather, he completely isolated himself during that period, for which he perfected his remarkable role in the film.
Malcom McDowell – A Clockwork Orange
When Malcom McDowell was given a role in A Clockwork Orange, he was also given full access to play with the character. In fact, McDowell improvised almost all of his scenes, when his character was held together by copious amounts of glue. However, his character’s personality seemed to take a toll on the actor’s personal life, and McDowell started to have seizures at night and needed therapy. He experienced temporary blindness on set and, to limit his sanity, he got put on medication.
50 Cent – All Things Fall Apart
After 50 Cent starred in Get Rich or Die Tryin‘, he impressed his fans who believed he was only cut out for the rapping world. However, with such a positive response, the rapper believed he was ready to take on more roles. In 2011, he starred in All Things Fall Apart, and photos of a very sickly skinny 50 Cent emerged online. Having stuck to a mostly liquid diet, he went from 214lbs to 160lbs in nine weeks. Unfortunately, the film was a massive flop.
Johnny Depp – Pirates of The Carribean
It is safe to say that Johnny Depp has had his fair share of crazy moments, and when it came to playing Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of The Caribbean franchise, Depp stayed fully in his role. He based the character off of Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones and was said no never have come out of character. Having focused so much on his method acting, he wanted to stay in character for the duration of filming.
Halle Berry – Jungle Fever
While Halle Berry does not seem to be the type to take on method acting, she did so when it came to her role in Jungle Fever. Playing a street worker who was addicted to illicit substances, Berry prepared by not showering for two weeks and would visit those who were struggling from addiction in real-life to see how they live and act. This Hollywood star completely transformed herself for the role and, unsurprisingly, since she is known for always being a super talented actress.
Danny DeVito – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is shot in a psychiatry ward of a mental asylum, and the whole cast lived in a real mental asylum to prepare for their roles. It was for this reason that many actors in the film had a breakdown because they wanted to make their characters as real as possible. Critically acclaimed actor Danny DeVito, for example, made an imaginary friend during filming, as if he were a real-life patient living in an asylum.
Sydney Lassick – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Another actor from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest who was affected heavily by his role was Sydney Lassick, who suffered a mental breakdown during the filming of the last scene. While a doctor had no concern over DeVito developing an imaginary friend, he was concerned for Lassick. While playing the role of Charlie Cheswick, Lassick developed emotionally erratic behavior which became increasingly unpredictable. During his last scene, Lasick had a tearful outburst, and he became so overwhelmed he had to be removed from the set.
Nicolas Cage – Birdy
Once actors are given the title of being one of the craziest actor’s in Hollywood, it seems that they hold onto this and never let it go. That could be said for Nicolas Cage who, like his role in Ghost Rider took things to the extreme for his role in Birdy. Cage had four of his teeth pulled out when he played the role of a disfigured Vietnam veteran in 1984, and he wore the character’s facial bandages for five weeks, both on and off of set.
Shelley Duvall – The Shining
It may not have been all fun and games for Shelley Duvall at the time, but her role as Wendy Torrance in The Shining made for an amazing performance. The infamous baseball bat scene fan for 127 takes, and Duvall said she would spend 12 hours a day just screaming. While Kubrick got a great performance and end result after 13 months of shooting The Shining, Duvall says that her experience on the film was “almost unbearable,” and her character really took its roll on her.
Heather Donahue – The Blair Witch Project
The directors of The Blair Witch Project did not make it easy for the whole cast after they plunged them into the woods without them knowing exactly what was planned. Rather, they were deliberately disturbed and alarmed every night, which would keep them in a state of anxiety. Heather had a hard time even after the film was released because she had to pretend the whole thing was real – meaning she had to pretend to be dead, when she was very much alive.
Leo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Leo DiCaprio has always been an actor to fully embody his character, and did so for his film The Revenant. To live the character, he changed his vegan lifestyle by eating raw meat and sleeping in animal carcasses.
Marilyn Burns – Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Texas Chain Saw Massacre goes down as one of the most traumatic films to watch, so it could not have been the easiest to work on. Marilyn Burns suffered at the hands of Leatherface and director, Tobe Hooper, and cut her finger open for real during one scene. “It was surrealistic and became so frightening because I had to be tied up and screaming for so long,” she told Terror Trap. “Afterwards, I was just so grateful it was over. I probably was the happiest girl alive.”
Kyle Richards – Halloween
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, Kyle Richards, started her career as a child actress. She was just nine-years-old when Halloween came out and explained that she was fine when filming but told Halloween Daily News, “I had no idea what I was in for. Seeing it for the first time all pieced together was a very, very different movie. It was just really scary, and I really did sleep with my mom until I was 15 years old after that. I was terrified.”