VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Nancy Roberge-Renaud
Talk about taking it too far! For this list, we'll be looking at actors who endangered their own health or just really inconvenienced or annoyed those around them in order to prepare for a role. Our countdown includes Ashton Kutcher, Jared Leto, Halle Berry, and more!
Top 10 Actors Who Took Method Acting WAY Too Far
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Took Method Acting WAY Too Far.
For this list, we’ll be looking at actors who endangered their own health or just really inconvenienced or annoyed those around them in order to prepare for a role.
Would you be a method actor? Why or why not? Let us know!
#10: Ashton Kutcher
When preparing for the role of Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher definitely did his homework. He did extensive research into the character and mannerisms of the tech mogul, as well as read the books Jobs preferred and studied the artists he admired. This is all normal, but Kutcher took it one step too far when he went on Jobs’ diet for a while. Jobs had adopted a fruitarian diet and mostly lived on grapes, popcorn, and carrot juice. The radical change in Kutcher’s diet landed him in the emergency room twice with pancreatitis. Kutcher’s wife Mila Kunis was vocal on his method acting woes, calling his dietary changes “dumb,” citing his “only grapes” diet as the worst. Unfortunately, his efforts only yielded a mediocre project.
#9: Rooney Mara
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)
Certain actors have come to be known as chameleons, and Rooney Mara definitely showed her changeable side in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The character of Lisbeth Salander is basically a goth-punk eccentric and described in the books as looking like a 14-year-old boy. Mara, in one day, had her hair cut off and dyed black, bleached her eyebrows and got multiple piercings (despite not even having pierced ears at the start). She also lost some weight, shockingly. The drastic makeover wasn’t the only thing Mara did for the role - during filming, she withstood a multitude of bruises and minor injuries to maintain a realistic performance, particularly in the infamous assault scene.
#8: Dustin Hoffman
“Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)
Some actors have a long-running reputation as being particularly difficult to work with. One such actor is Dustin Hoffman, and confirmed stories from his time filming “Kramer vs. Kramer” with Meryl Streep pretty much say it all. The film depicts a bitter custody battle between a divorced couple. It’s arguable in this situation that Hoffman is just an unpleasant fellow, but method acting must have something to do with it, right? Hoffman treated Streep terribly, insulting her, teased her about her recently deceased boyfriend and once actually slapped her in the face, when he was meant to fake it. He also berated her performance at times. Whether it was method or not, the two have not worked together since.
#7: Shia LaBeouf
It’s not news that Shia LaBeouf is an … interesting character. There are stories from a number of the sets he has frequented, but let’s stick to one. On the set of David Ayer’s “Fury,” LaBeouf exhibited some odd behaviors. What’s more, these odd behaviors didn’t really jive with his onscreen character. We’ll call it method acting anyway… he had a tooth removed by a shady dentist, completely neglected his personal hygiene, fought the cast, and, according to fellow actor Logan Lerman, approached him in a hallway with a “Check this out” and cut his own face to produce a real scar. His character was a calm, Bible-quoting man. There was… a method to his madness, perhaps?
#6: Halle Berry
“Jungle Fever” (1991)
The 1991 Spike Lee film, “Jungle Fever,” was Halle Berry’s first movie role, and she set out to prove herself as an actor. In what she called her “attempt at method acting,” Berry prepared for her performance as a crack-smoking lady of the night by not bathing for at least two weeks. Though she claims none of her costars mentioned her odorous nature, she did notice them all start to keep their distances. Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed, and the role actually launched her career. Berry wanted to transition from the beauty pageant circuit to the screen, and becoming the polar opposite of a beauty queen is what did the trick.
#5: Jamie Dornan
“The Fall” (2013-16)
It must be difficult for actors to really get a feel for playing serial killers. Some read books, some watch documentaries… Jamie Dornan decided to stalk someone while researching for “The Fall.” While riding the train, Dornan decided to get off a few stops earlier and follow a woman for a few blocks. Though it felt wrong, Dornan claims he did learn something, as he was entering into something he’d never experienced before. Dornan said “it felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way.” Though in the end this is harmless, it is a risky thing to do. Thankfully, Dornan didn’t take it too far, and presumably, Dornan’s prey didn’t even notice.
#4: Choi Min-sik
We’ve seen all kinds of method acting, including self-injury, self-mutilation and just plain annoying everyone around. However, this one involves eating something… live. Choi Min-sik, for his role as Oh Dae-su in “Oldboy”, did a few things, such as training for six weeks, losing a substantial amount of weight, actually burning himself with a hot wire to maintain realism… But for a particular scene in the film, Min-sik agreed to eat a live octopus, despite being a Buddhist and a vegetarian. They did the take four times, with four octopi. Min-sik prayed and apologized to every creature he consumed. Maybe the inspiration for Timothy?
#3: Dennis Hopper
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)
There are numerous stories from the set of this classic, and so many are shocking that it’s easy for some of them to get buried. Did you know, for example, that there was an actual shady issue with the use of real human bodies? Well, that’s a story for another time. Dennis Hopper played an unstable photojournalist, for which he put his own personal emphasis on the “unstable” part. It is said that when asked what he needed to perform the role by director Francis Ford Coppola, Hopper answered that he required cocaine. The production actually provided, and Hopper was thus under the influence of the white stuff for the filming. He is also said to have not showered for the entirety of the shoot.
#2: Jim Carrey
“Man on the Moon” (1999)
The production of the Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon” has been called a “cautionary tale [...] about the inconveniences of method acting.” Jim Carrey’s behavior on and off set during the production has been called “crazy.” Before he even started filming, Carrey claimed Andy Kaufman’s spirit showed up and took over his body… not metaphorically. He “embodied” Kaufman and the latter’s alter-ego Tony Clifton constantly. Carrey drove with a paper bag over his head (for some reason) and crashed into a wall. He spoke to the late Kaufman’s family in character. He smoked and drank heavily, and inexplicably brought the Hell’s Angels to set and offered them craft table goods. The list actually goes on if you want to look it up.
#1: Jared Leto
“Suicide Squad” (2016)
We’ve all heard of this one. Among the main reasons that it’s in first place is that all of Leto’s odd behaviors didn’t even pay off in the end, as “Suicide Squad” wasn’t well-received, nor was his performance. Honestly, the onset stories sound… just obnoxious. Leto didn’t say a word to Will Smith outside of the script for the entirety of filming, to maintain his character’s thought process. He sent a live rat to Margot Robbie, who was playing Harley Quinn. He sent the cast a dead pig as a “gift,” which he had brought in by a hired goon. He also sent a variety of adult toys to cast members, including used condoms. Honestly, all of this sounds unbearable, and no laughing matter.