Method acting is the process some actor undergo of creating thoughts and feelings by immersing themselves in the experience of the character they're playing as genuinely as possible. Essentially recreating the character's experience in real life, the actors access their own true feelings and emotions and thereby portray their story in a completely natural and realistic way. The method acting craft was first developed by Constantin Stanislavski in the late 1800’s and has been refined into different variations since the its inception. It's so effective in encouraging empathetic and touching performances that it's unsurprising that many famous, well-respected actors that we know and love employ method acting in their roles.
There are several actors that perhaps even take the art of method acting a bit too far. Some will become their characters and literally forget their own identities during their time on a film. Broadway and television actor, Mandy Patinkin (you might remember him best as Íñigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride”) has been known to dive into the character at such serious lengths that even fellow actors find it difficult to work with him. Before taking on the role of Fantine in the film adaptation of the musical, “Les Miserables”, Anne Hathaway undertook an extreme diet so that she would look and feel emaciated, and she also had her hair cut on camera and did extensive study to understand the desperate mother. Remember Joaquin Phoenix’s well-publicised bearded phase when he was acting strangely and erratically in interviews? Well, it was for a film. Heath Ledger kept a diary and became increasingly withdrawn while he was taking on the role of The Joker. And most recently, Shia LeBeouf has been making news due to actually having intercourse on screen with his costar in the movie, “Nymphomaniac”. And then we have Christian Bale, who became skeletal for the film “The Machinist” and made himself overweight for his role in "American Hustle".
These 10 actors are some of the most successful artists who have genuinely lived the lives of their characters, with both artistic and financial success.
10 Daniel Day-Lewis - $40 Million
9 Adrien Brody - $40 Million
8 Edward Norton - $50 Million
7 Dustin Hoffman - $50 Million
6 Sally Field - $55 Million
5 Kate Winslet - $90 Million
4 Marlon Brando - $100 Million
3 Jim Carrey - $150 Million
2 Robert De Niro - $185 Million
1 Leonardo DiCaprio - $200 Million
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