Stanislavski birthed it, Lee Strasberg molded it, and a clutch of singularly deranged, passionate, obsessive, divine (pick one) actors honed it. As an amalgamation of techniques used by actors to deliver their roles as truthfully as possible, Method Acting has proven to be the invaluable common denominator to many of cinema’s greatest moments. Here, LTP lists some of its favorite moments of an actor taking a role and running with it.

Adrien Brody in The Pianist

After deciding to lose 30 kilos along with practicing the piano for four hours a day, (hey, why stop there) Brody decided to embody the feeling of ‘lost-ness’ that his character Wladyslaw Szpilman experiences during the holocaust. “I gave up my apartment, I sold my car, I disconnected the phones, and I left,” Brody told the BBC. “I took two bags and my keyboard and moved to Europe.” His girlfriend, predictably, left him. In 2003 however it all was worth it when Brody won an Oscar.

Christian Bale in The Machinist

Christian Bale lost 60lbs for psychological thriller The Machinist in order to play a shrunken insomniac. The weight loss however was an error initially made by the scriptwriter. According to co- star Michel Ironside, “The writer is only about five-foot-six, and he put his own weights in. And then Chris did the film and Chris said, ‘No, don’t change the weights. I want to see if I make them.’ So those weights he writes on the bathroom wall in the film are his actual weights in the film.”

Tippi Hendrin in The Birds (our personal favorite)

Unfortunately, Tippi had no clue about her about-to-become method acting experience. Alfred Hitchcock promised her that mechanical birds would be used for the iconic attack scene. Instead, poor old Tippi was inflicted with a flock of real birds pecking and clawing away at her. (Kudos to Hitchcock for perhaps forcing the method out of an unwitting victim?)
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Daniel Day-Lewis in- nearly every movie he’s done

Not for nothing is Day-Lewis considered the daddy of modern Method Acting. Here’s a brief list of the madness he’s gotten up to over his career:

  • Learned Czech in order to play the role of Thomas in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Moved out of his house (for his wife’s film – she probably regretted picking him for the role) in order to experience the isolation of living in an island commune for The Ballad of Jack and Rose
  • Offset, spoke with a Kentucky twang, only responded when referred to as Mr. President and signed each text message as Abe for Lincoln
  • Constructed the set with other carpenters just to get into the role of John Proctor for The Crucible
  • Would only use a wheelchair off screen and would refuse to get out of his car thus leading him to get picked up every time for his role an artist with cerebral palsy in My Left Foot
  • Learned to skin animals, reload a gun while running, and construct canoes for the role of Hawkeye in The Last of The Mohicans. He was rewarded with hallucinations for his troubles.
  • Spent two nights in a prison cell without food or water to play Gerry Conlon in In The Name of the Father, based on the 1974 Guilford Pub bombings

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To understand why an actor would go through such lengths, we’ve decided to end on a quote by Day-Lewis himself (on why he did what he did for In The Name of The Father)

“If an innocent man signs a confession, which pissed away his life, it is part of your responsibility to touch on why a human being would do that.” Touché.