How far would you go to fully integrate yourself into your job?
Would you spend weeks on end sitting in a bank if you wanted to become a banker? Would you strut seductively down every street you walked if you dreamed of becoming a model?
The examples could take up a list on their own, but the point gets made – sometimes, it takes more than a bit of training to fully become entrenched in a particular position or role one plans on undertaking.
In Hollywood, actors and actresses across the board have been known to take their preparation to the next level, dedicating themselves in ways the average person could not even fathom just to land a role, let alone play it. While at times the types of preparation can be uncomfortable and even harmful, it hasn’t stopped the most renowned actors and actresses from making radical changes to their everyday life for the sake of a fictional character.
On the other hand, the results have proven to be outstanding. Some of the finest performances to ever grace the silver screen were achieved thanks to meticulous – and sometimes crazy – preparation in an attempt to land a role. This list could go into the hundreds, but we’ve attempted to narrow down the stories from actors and actresses working to land and prepare for unconventional movie roles – in some of the most unconventional ways imaginable.
Here are 10 Actors Who Did Strange Things to Land a Role.
10. Chris Hemsworth
On the surface, it may not look like Chris Hemsworth did anything particularly strange to prepare for the movie Heart of the Sea. Investigate a little further, though, and you’ll learn that Hemsworth went on a rigid 500 calorie per day diet to land and prepare for the role. The usually jacked Hemsworth dropped a ton of muscle to look the part of Owen Chase in the Moby Dick inspired film. While dropping weight is nothing new for actors looking to land big roles, it’s definitely unnerving – and a tad strange – to see a guy like Hemsworth looking as disheveled and sickly as he does in the before-and-after photo above.
9. Matthew McConaughey
When you think of Matthew McConaughey, you think of the well built, handsome man driving around Lincolns and rocking top of the line suits like few others can – not as a skin-and-bones cowboy. McConaughey took the weight loss challenge to an interesting level for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, as he only ate chicken and egg whites to lose close to 40 pounds for the role. Safe to say McConaughey went on an eating spree as soon as the cast and crew had wrapped up the final scene was over.
8. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf went from lovable Even Stevens child actor to inspiring hero in Transformers to…well, its hard to pin down what exactly happened to the once seemingly mild-mannered actor, but it would appear that some of his role preparations have done more than leave some form of physical mark or scar.
LaBeouf pushed the envelope for roles on multiple occasions recently, most notably cutting his own face for his role in Fury and dropping acid for the movie Charlie Countryman. Now we can only wonder what boundary he will push next – at this rate, he will need to listen to his own “just do it” rant to get psyched up for whatever strange preparation he has to put himself through next.
7. Jared Leto
Jared Leto pulled out all the stops to land and prepare for his role as Rayon in the recent hit Dallas Buyers Club. Leto slid right into the role of a transgender by not only interacting with transgenders in real life, but by losing 30 pounds, shaving his eyebrows and waxing his entire body. On top of that, he lived out the character’s life and intertwined it with the struggles he dealt with during the preparation for the role, mainly by dressing up as Rayon and reportedly going to the grocery store to “stare at the food I wasn’t eating”, along with trying to better understand the type of judgement transgenders have to deal with in public on a daily basis.
6. Adrian Brody
Adrian Brody likely could have stopped pushing the limits of his preparation for his role in The Pianist at intensive piano lessons and extreme weight loss, but that didn’t seem enough for Brody – so he pushed it even further. Brody won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman, and he credits it to his desire to be truthful to the role by feeling what it was like to lose everything in his own life, so that he could carry that feeling over to his role. Brody sold his New York apartment, got rid of his car and turned off his cellphone for the entire duration of the shooting of the film – and while it couldn’t have been easy, his strange method of preparation worked like a charm.
5. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams
It’s one thing to practice lines with a fellow cast member to prepare for an upcoming role – it’s another thing entirely to put your life on hold to live the life of your characters as a way to land and prepare for a movie role. That didn’t stop Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, though, who took their preparation for Blue Valentine to another level by living together (with their on-screen daughter, no less) to fully acclimate themselves to not only each other, but the roles themselves, in an attempt to spark the characters’ chemistry before ever stepping onto the set.
4. Heath Ledger
While Heath Ledger was able to pull off arguably one of the greatest portrayals of a villain in movie history (let alone the best performance of a Batman enemy), the toll it took on body and mind ultimately proved to be too much for the Oscar-winning actor. Ledger took the lead-up to the job to unimaginable levels, doing nearly everything possible to become the psychotic character by barely sleeping and scribbling a “Joker’s journal” to truly capture the role.
FOX News was told by an on-set source that Ledger was warned numerous times that his preparation and dedication to landing and perfecting the part had gone too far, and those ominous claims proved to be correct in the end.
3. Hillary Swank
Hillary Swank might have put in the most dedicated effort of all the actors on this list to land and prepare for her role as Brandon Teena in the film Boys Don’t Cry, as she decided to live as a man in the lead-up to the filming of the movie.
“I walked around trying to pass as a boy for five weeks before filming that movie… Seeing what worked and what didn’t work, and losing a bunch of body fat so that my face would be thinner. My neighbors thought that I was my cousin Billy from Iowa,” Swank told Yahoo!
2. Daniel Day-Lewis
In an attempt to fully embrace his role in the 1996 film The Crucible, Daniel Day-Lewis virtually transported himself back to the 17th century to land and prepare for his role. Not only did he not bathe throughout the entire filming of the movie, he lived on the set without any modern amenities – notably electricity and water (thus the lack of showers) – and went as far as building the house used in the movie using only tools that would have been available in the time the movie was set. One can imagine the kind of stench he must have worked up building a house with tools that were that outdated, so you can only wonder about the kind of horrendous odor the cast and crew had to deal with throughout the filming of the movie.
1. Jamie Dornan
It can’t be easy trying to get into the mind of a serial killer, but Jamie Dornan found a way – even though it was admittedly a little creepy…OK, very, very creepy.
As he worked towards landing and preparing for the role of Paul Spector in The Fall, Jamie Dornan decided the best way to truly capture the role was to stalk a woman.
Yes, you read that right. Jamie Dornan stalked a woman for his job.
Dornan admitted in an LA Times article that it wasn’t something he was entirely comfortable with at first, but felt that it was something that helped him better understand his character and the role he was being asked thoportray:
“The first series, I did do a couple of things to try to get inside [his mind]. On the tube, which is our underground system… I, like, followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that… It felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way. I’m sort of not proud of myself. But I do honestly think I learned something from it, because I’ve obviously never done any of that. It was intriguing and interesting to enter that process of ‘What are you following her for?’ and ‘What are you trying to find out?’”
Safe to say Dornan went above and beyond the “call of duty” in the quest to impersonate a serial killer as best as he possibly could.