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erichw1504's avatar

What kind of method acting would you be willing to do if you were cast in a movie?

Asked by erichw1504 (26336 points ) May 11th, 2011

Christian Bale lost a lot of weight for his role in The Fighter.
Heath Ledger went through psychological hardships to play The Joker.
Dustin Hoffman totally immersed himself in his role as an autistic savant in Rain Man.

Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques by which actors try to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters in an effort to develop lifelike performances.

If you were cast in a role that provided you the opportunity to engage in method acting, what would you be willing to do? Would it be physical or psycological. Would you adopt an accent or learn a new language? Would you learn to mimick the movements and speech of someone else?

How far would you go? How would you recover?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I don’t believe in method acting so I would not engage in it for a movie part.

ucme's avatar

I wouldn’t mind humping loads of chicks…birds…skirt….sorry, women while researching the role of Dirk Diggler. I mean, i’d suffer for my art.

MonstrousPeace's avatar

I wouldn’t mind losing some weight for a role and going through psychological hardships. I also wouldn’t mind training excessively for some sort of performance in the film.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am a huge fan of Lee Strasberg and The Actors Studio. Not only does it produce brilliant performers and performances, but it might get me an interview with James Lipton. Were I talented enough to be a brilliant performer using this method I might give it a shot by gaining weight or losing weight, something that fit the role. In the book Wired Bob Woodward tells the story of Robert deNiro encouraging John Belushi to shoot heroin in order to play a role more effectively. That would be too over the top for me.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I’ll tell you what I would NOT do. I would not gain weight or shave my head, or do anything that would be detrimental to my health.

muppetish's avatar

I don’t think I would be willing to go through extreme levels of method acting… one thing I would like to do, is get firsthand experience, like actors who take the time to learn how to dance, or ride a horse, or run a shop, or use a sword. I don’t consider that method acting, but you have a completely different kind of confidence about you when you know how to do something instead of faking it for the camera. I respect actors who take the time to do that.

However, in the case of what @SuperMouse mentioned that’s definitely taking it too far.

Joker94's avatar

I would love to learn and master a new trade or talent for a film. I would especially love to learn a martial art.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m an actor, and yes, I’ve been payed for my work. You could say I’m a professional actor though I’m not union.

I have studied long hours. I have taken trips to see specific museums. I have learned new talents. I’ve lost weight. I’ve done many things that are not normal for roles.

But I’ve never done anything illegal.

I would do just about anything for a role to make it more real and fulfilling for myself and the audience.

@marinelife : I’m curious. What do you mean you don’t believe in method acting?

linguaphile's avatar

I’m also an actor and like @hawaii_jake I immerse myself in a character, studying, putting in hours, learning skills and lost weight, and like jake, I haven’t done anything illegal! :D
The most intense psychological role I went “down” into was Jessie for “night, Mother.” When I went off stage to ‘commit suicide’ I would jump around (quietly) like a marionette or clown, making crazy faces to snap out of the suicide-level depression that I had built into. I couldn’t cross the line of actually putting the gun to my head even with blanks in it, but if it was onstage I would have. (then jumped around mad-crazy afterwards to shake it off) The second most intense were the 5 different characters I did in Eve Ensler’s “Words from a Prison” and again, had to detox with humor afterwards.
I actually prefer to do the most complicated characters- oowee! Fun!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@linguaphile : I played Dracula once. Wow. That was intense. My kids would hardly talk to me.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@hawaii_jake While I do not want to speak for @marinelife, I can only speculate based upon my own observations about method-acting.

When an actor devotes time to study the nuances of the character that they will be portraying, it is looked upon as the dedication of the actor to carry out a realistic role. I admire several actors for mastering an accent or taking on the appearance of their character, or spending time with people that will help them click with the mindset of the role. Their goal is to make their part more realistic.

Then there are the method actors who feel that they need to immerse themselves into the part. They want to be called by the character’s name and keep up the facade of the character off-stage. While this doesn’t apply to all method actors, these seem to be the ones that show up in the media

If this small portion of method actors cannot put aside their character while off-stage, then it makes me wonder about their confidence in their own acting talent. Maybe I am wrong, but I’ve always thought that great acting was about taking on a character, much like dressing up in a costume, that doesn’t necessarily fit your personality or beliefs. They are able to deliver the message and then take off not only the costume, but the character, at the end of the scene or the day.

linguaphile's avatar

@hawaii_jake Awesome character and a great range of emotions! Do your kids still remember that experience?
As for kids, my son wouldn’t even look at the guy who played Tom to my Amanda in Glass Menagerie, and all Tom did was push Amanda away. I have so many stories about doing that play—I had the most hard-nosed director I’ve ever had, and grew the most as an actor.
@Pied_Pfeffer I have to agree that there is a point where method acting can go too far (i.e. Heath) and I’ve seen actors who are literally empty shells of people because they’ve lost any sense of themselves- they only can function if they’re pretending to be someone else. I think that’s a very scary place be and do everything I can to avoid that happening to me.
However, from my experience, I feel that I do better when I immerse myself into the character. I understand the character better, understand the emotions I’m supposed to portray more, and just overall understand who I’m supposed to be. Then (the most important step), by God, let it go.
From what I’ve seen, most actors don’t seem to be one-philosophy actors, but draw from Strasberg, Stanislavsky, and all the other ‘schools of thought.’

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer : I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve never want to be called by my character name off-stage. However, when I’m waiting in the wings to make an entrance, I am in character. I am “doing” the things that the character would be doing in the moments before an entrance. But I doubt that’s what you’re talking about. I have a feeling you’re talking about the people who walk around town in character, which is silly.

I consider it one of my crowning achievements in acting when still in costume of King Claudius form Hamlet, friends wouldn’t talk to me after the show. Even though I’d completely dropped the character, the costume and my makeup and such made them too uncomfortable. As one of them told me, “you’re the one we love to hate.” When I changed into street clothes and cleaned up, they warmed up to me quickly.

gavdawg262cv's avatar

I would certainly study the behaviors of the character and get in touch with their actions and emotions, but I would never express that out in public, especially if the character is unlike me or is very disagreeable. It’s healthy to be your character onstage, but when the show or rehearsal is over, I feel like it’s time to tune back into real life.

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