There aren’t too many actors that take on method acting, but the ones that do really blow our minds with what they are willing to do to portray a convincing character. Method acting is part of the Stanislavski system and was made popular by the Strasberg Institute. There is certainly nothing wrong with the art of method acting; we just think the actors themselves typically take things way too far. Many believe the fall of Heath Ledger was due to how invested he got into his characters and it was said that he grew depressed after portraying The Joker in The Dark Knight.
These actors, however, don’t believe there is any such thing as “too far” and they feel that going to extremes is just part of their job. Unfortunately for some, doing their job has come with a price. Many lives have been destroyed by method acting, it was what took down an extraordinary actor such as Heather Ledger.
Method acting can be pretty cool, but there have also been accidents that could have been prevented had the actor, well, just acted. You might be surprised what some actors have been willing to do to get the perfect shot. In fact, we know you are going to be shocked to see what some actors have done. You can judge whether these actors went a little too far to get their shot.
15 Jim Carrey
Netflix recently released a documentary called Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond — Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. We got to see a lot of behind-the-scenes footage of the making of Man on the Moon which was released in 1999. Man on the Moon is the biopic of Andy Kaufman. What we see in this documentary is how Jim Carrey refused to break character even when the cameras weren't rolling. It got to the point where he almost didn’t exist anymore and it was as if Andy Kaufman was alive again. He was so committed to the role, it’s downright creepy and he even got into a fight with Jerry Lawler, the professional wrestler, much in the same way that Kaufman would have in real life. Carrey would only respond to people if they call him Andy and it was as if Kaufman had possessed his body.
14 Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage was another actor that went overboard to play a character. In this case, it was physical pain that he endured for the role. When it came to his role as a Vietnam vet in Birdy, Cage had some teeth pulled without anesthesia in order to feel the physical pain that a Vietnam vet would have felt. We think that’s beyond crazy and it’s a wonder that the director and producers allowed the actor to go to these extreme measures. Not only did he pull his teeth out, but he also kept his face wrapped in bandages for five weeks. "The reactions on the street were brutal," Cage told The Telegraph. "Men and women laughing, kids staring. And when I took the bandages off, my skin was all infected because of acne and ingrown hairs." This is beyond crazy behavior for actors.
13 Robert Pattinson
Long before he played a sparkly vampire in Twilight, Robert Pattison played the role of Salvador Dali in Little Ashes. At the time, he was thinking of giving up on the whole acting gig because it wasn’t working out for him. In order to get ready for a sex scene in the movie, he pleasured himself so that his orgasm would look authentic onscreen. "I once decided to quit acting; it was when I did ‘Little Ashes,’" he said. "I played Salvador Dali and had to do a lot of scenes where I was naked, and I also had to masturbate. I mean really.” We have to ask why someone would even do that and Pattinson said he couldn’t make it look real unless he really did it. There was a reason he didn’t give up on acting — fate clearly stepped in and changed his life. “A couple of days later, I was given the offer to do Twilight.”
12 Halle Berry
Halle Berry really wanted us to believe that she was a drugged-out hooker. In Spike Lee’s 1991 film Jungle Fever, Halle Berry played a drug addict and she was very convincing. She was determined to get into the head of the character and show us what it was like to only think about drugs all the time. She actually went and visited a real crack house to see what it was like for the people there and we are a little surprised that they would let her do that. Not only did she research these crack houses, but during filming, she didn't bathe for two weeks. ''It's true,'' she told Wendy Williams in 2012. ''Ask Sam Jackson! He had to get a whiff of it.'' Oh, he must have just loved that. It certainly shows her commitment to a role.
What extent would you go to in order to make a shot perfect? Wearing bandages for five weeks isn’t too bad, but would you be willing to eat poop? We wish we were joking, but we’re not. When she starred in 1972’s Pink Flamingos, Divine ate a dog’s poop, fresh and steamy right off the ground. Now, why she didn’t let them concoct something out of marmalade and chocolate, we aren’t sure. "I followed that dog around for three hours just zooming in on its a**h*le." She was a little worried after she ingested the stinking morsel and decided to call the emergency room to see if there would be some adverse effects of her disgusting act. Director John Waters said, "I'll never be able to do a sequel to Pink
10 Jamie Dornan
This handsome devil actually stalked someone in real life just to see what it would feel like to pursue someone as a serial killer. Dornan plays a serial killer on the Netflix series, The Fall and he’s quite the convincing one. He wanted to know what it was like to hunt someone with the intention to kill. He wanted to be able to give a good portrayal of what stalking someone looked like so he did it in real life. "On the tube, I followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that.” He said that he followed her for several blocks, but kept a respectable distance. If only this woman knew she had been stalked by none other than Jamie Dornan. It may have been funnier had he told her, but on second thought, it’s just too creepy.
9 Chloë Sevigny
In the case of Chloë Sevigny, it’s possible that she went way too far in order to portray her character. It’s something that she probably regrets because it affected her career and the way some people viewed her. For Sevigny, she performed oral s*x on set, but realized her error when it caused a scandal. Vincent Gall, her co-star, and former flame was also the writer and director of the film. They probably both thought it was a great idea. But for viewers, they weren’t interested in watching what was as close to porn as we could get in the cinema. She did an interview with W Magazine and explained the effect it had on her personal life. "It hurt me, in a lot of ways. Some relationships have had trouble with it. Of course, my mom and I don’t talk about it.” She also claimed that she did it to "push back against her growing fame at the time.”
8 The Cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
This was a Best Picture winner at the Oscars and for good reason. The portrayal of the inmates in the psych ward was truly amazing. Jack Nicholson was clearly the ringleader in the movie and might have been the reason the rest of them used method acting as well. You might be surprised to hear that the whole cast, including Jack Nicolson, decided to stay in the psychiatric ward during the filming of the movie. That was where they chose to eat and sleep in order to stay true to the characters. Throughout filming, they interacted with other patients and went into real group therapy sessions, some of which were included in the film because director Milos Forman was filming them in their sessions without their knowledge.
7 Heath Ledger
We are all very familiar with the epic lengths that Heath Ledger went to to depict the madness behind The Joker. Many people believe it was his undoing because it took a lot out of him to be the evil Joker and was found to be depressed after the movie was finished. There is still a controversial debate about whether the method acting he used in The Dark Knight contributed to his death. "Ledger was no stranger to method acting, and he took his commitment to the role seriously, as he threw himself into the film, his sleep began to suffer. He told The New York Times that he probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn't stop thinking my body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He used Ambien as a sleep aid and well, we all know how it ended.
6 Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski is known for going to the extremes of method acting in pretty much everything. He's on a whole new level then most method actors; it's as if he is totally possessed by his characters and loses himself completely in the role. He’s actually known for “legendary insanity” while acting because of how extreme he gets for every role that he plays. For his role in Fitzcarraldo, he became so crazed while filming, the local Peruvian natives allegedly offered director Werner Herzog to kill the man for him. The director declined, of course, but probably just because he needed Kinski to finish the movie. That wasn’t even the worst that he's done during filming. He also stabbed an extra through the head, and when he played a former Nazi in Crawlspace, he got into multiple fights.
5 Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone is another actor that liked to take things to the extreme. When it came to filming Rocky IV, he asked his costar, Dolph Lundgren, to try his best to knock him out for real. Getting knocked out is not the best thing for your health, especially when it comes to head injuries. "Bad idea," Stallone said. "Later that night, my blood pressure went up to 260. I went to the hospital, they put me in an emergency jet, and flew me back to America. Next thing I know, I’m in intensive care for five days with nuns walking around. He hit my heart so hard that it banged against my ribs and started to swell, and that usually happens in car accidents. So, I was hit by a truck!”
4 Billy Bob Thornton
Sling Blade these days is considered to be a cult classic and Billy Bob Thornton is part of the reason for its success. When it came to playing a character who was mentally impaired, Thornton was determined to play the character to the max. The character of Karl Childers was mentally disabled, but he was also unusually smart as well. The character was an awkward one that sort of limped all around when he walked. Thornton thought it would be a cool idea to put actual broken glass in his shoes so that he could mimic the “awkward and consistent” walk of the character. That must have been insanely uncomfortable. His character was certainly compelling and accurate, so we suppose it was a good idea, but we wonder why he had to go to those lengths.
3 Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet is a remarkable actress and her career certainly speaks to that. When she played Rose in Titanic, she asked that the water on the ship be cold so that her reactions swimming around in the water would be authentic (we’re sure that her co-star Leonardo DiCaprio really appreciated that suggestion). So, when you see Rose looking for Jack and she first dropped down into the water, that gasp was real because the water was freezing. She had said while on The Late Show that she actually experienced hypothermia while filming the last scene in the water because it was so bloody cold in there. She certainly went to extremes to get that scene right.
2 Val Kilmer
As you can see, Val Kilmer was the perfect person to play Jim Morrison because he looks identical to him. Kilmer was determined to play the role of Jim Morrison in The Doors, so much so that he actually spent thousands of dollars to produce an eight-minute music video of him singing Morrison’s songs. He obviously got the gig and from that moment on. He memorized 50 of Morrison’s songs and even walked around in some of Morrison’s clothes, which is pretty creepy. He would often go to some of Morrison’s favorite hangouts to get a feel for what he liked. As if that wasn’t enough, he would interrogate anyone that had known Morrison to find out everything that he could about him. Paul Rothchild was a producer for the band and said that Kilmer "knows Jim Morrison better than Jim ever knew himself. He's nailed it — to the extent that The Doors themselves had difficulty telling whether it was Val singing or Jim singing. Early on, I'd bring them into a recording studio and I randomly switched Val and Jim and they guessed wrong 80 per cent of the time.”
1 Malcolm McDowell
When it came to Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell was just as obsessed with perfection as director Stanley Kubrick. There were some scenes in which his eyes were propped open for an experiment. Although it's possible to film it without McDowell to actually experience is, he wanted things to look as real as possible and took the risk of permanently damaging his eyes. The “forced viewing” sequence in Clockwork Orange caused McDowell damage to his eyes in the form of scratched corneas and even temporary blindness, even though they used real doctors in the scene. The damage was caused because they had propped his eyes open for a long period of time. It’s kind of scary to think that someone could go blind just because they did a scene in a movie.